Within a few months Lufthansa Systems says it expects to have certificated an advanced Class 2 electronic flight bag with global database of digital charts from its e-RouteManual that will make the cockpit almost paper-free. Lufthansa says that, at present, it needs the capacity to provide 15,600 paper charts and chart updates per pilot per year.

Lufthansa Systems, the information technology branch of the Lufthansa group, reports it is well into certification trials in one of the airline's Airbus A340-600s, working with German aviation authority the LBA. This system is unique, says senior vice-president airline operations Marc Szepan, because it is not specific to the A340 but can operate on aircraft from any manufacturer, either retrofitted or installed in a new aircraft. The company points out that since most airlines have a mixed-manufacturer aircraft fleet, this makes this type of solution attractive because it can provide operational commonality across all aircraft in a carrier's portfolio, making crew training and engineering simpler.

The Lufthansa Systems electronic flight bag is a powerful hybrid Class 2 device "structurally integrated" into the flightdeck by Lufthansa Technik and, unlike most devices in that category, it can upload flightplan data from the flight management computer, although at this stage it does not have the integration levels of a Class 3 system.

Lufthansa plans to use it across its fleet. The exception will be the A380s, because that type has its own fully integrated on-board information system. Airbus, however, offers the e-RouteManual as the standard chart database in the aircraft's information system.

The unit on trial in the A340 is a combined display and interface supplied by Goodrich, driven by a notebook computer. Its functionality, in addition to global en route, airport and terminal charts, includes aircraft weight and balance/performance processing, the aircraft flight operations manual, flightplans and route briefing data, and internal airline information.

Lufthansa Systems is not new to combining its software with other vendors' hardware, having already provided Virgin Atlantic Airways with a Class 2 electronic flight bag solution that is being fitted across the carrier's entire fleet. In the Virgin case, the hardware is a Navaero t-Bag with a touchscreen display.

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Source: Flight International