Airbus will launch the roll-out of electronic flight bags (EFB) for all its fly-by-wire airliners with an in-service trial of its FlySmart cockpit-integrated Class 3 device in early 2006, using an A340.

The “paperless” flightdeck milestone comes two years after Airbus created a dedicated department to develop its EFB offerings, and eight years after it introduced the “less paper cockpit” Class 1 concept using laptops. The European manufacturer plans to offer airlines common, Micro­soft Windows XP-based EFB applications software for its A320, A330/A340 and A380 families, but the Teledyne Controls-supplied on­board information terminal will be mounted on the pilots’ sliding tray table on all models except the A380.

The latter will use different hardware, including screens mounted adjacent to the instrument panel. The tray table solution is being marketed as FlySmart.

Speaking at the Panasonic-hosted European Aviation Symposium in Lisbon, Portugal, Airbus flight and ground information services marketing manager Alexandre Hatoum said FlySmart would be available on new-build A330/A340s from late 2006 and for A320-family narrowbodies from the third quarter of 2007.

Retrofits for in-service A330/A340s will be available from 2007, together with a lower-cost, Class 3 “lite” installation providing functionality dedicated to the “flight operations domain” and not including cabin and maintenance features, said Hatoum. A320 retrofits will start by the end of 2007.

The A380, meanwhile, is due to enter service at the end of 2006, but Hatoum said this model would undergo an “enhanced functions retrofit” starting in 2008.

Airbus also plans to offer an alternative, revamped Class 1 laptop-based EFB to A320/A330/A340 operators that will run the same software applications as FlySmart, but will lack an avionics datalink.

Hatoum said the EFBs would improve safety by boosting pilot awareness, enable more efficient flight operations and cut maintenance-related dispatch delays.

The Class 3 EFB displays can present charts and approach plates and be used in all phases of flight. They can also host performance calculation software, aircraft manuals, moving-map display for taxiing at airports, email communications system, and display real-time weather data and Notams via satellite or ACARS datalink.

Airbus has qualified two Panasonic laptops for use with its Class 1 EFB product. “We really feel the airlines are ready to make that investment,” says Johan Bohy, Panasonic airline industries sector manager. One major European airline is considering acquiring 4,000 laptops for its pilots and 3,000 for cabin crew by 2007, Bohy adds.

Boeing-owned Jeppesen signed in October an agreement with Airbus to offer its EFB software products to Airbus operators, in competition with other third-party providers.


Source: Flight International