By Joe Singleton in Washington, DC

American Airlines in June plans to begin testing Class 1 electronic flight bags (EFBs) on its fleet of 44 Boeing 777-200ERs, the carrier’s pilot union has revealed.

Dubbed “first step”, the programme is expected to run for about six months with pilots participating on a voluntary basis.

Class 1 EFBs allow pilots to upload searchable PDF files of flight manuals from their own commercial laptop computers rather than have to look for the information in a printed manual.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA) estimates that around 75% of the carrier’s pilots carry laptop computers on all flights, and that most will likely participate.

An APA spokesman says the only cost associated with the programme is “whatever it costs to set up wireless Internet in the pilot operations offices”.

However, the union is confident the programme will save the carrier around $1 million to $1.5 million annually in costs for printed manuals.

American currently does not operate any class of EFBs on its 700 aircraft. But the programme could be expanded across the carrier’s fleet following US Federal Aviation Administration approval, says the APA spokesman.

Cost assessments or a potential timeframe for equipping American’s worldwide fleet with Class 2 and the more-costly Class 3 EFBs have not been made, the APA says.

American could not be immediately reached for comment.

Source: Flight International