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Updated FAA EFB guidance supports paperless flight

A new advisory circular makes clear what pilots have wondered since electronic flight bags first proliferated in cockpits more than 10 years ago—they are approved to replace virtually all paper reference materials.

Photo by Chris Rose.

The FAA on February 23 issued AC 91-78A, an update to the original AC issued in 2007 that sought to bring clarity to the subject. But references to EFB classes and the lack of clear guidance on documents such as pilot information handbooks left some questions unanswered.

No longer. According to the updated document, “EFB systems may be used in conjunction with, or to replace, the paper reference material that pilots typically carry in the flight deck. EFBs can electronically store and retrieve information required for flight operations, such as the POH and supplements, minimum equipment lists (MEL), W&B calculations, aeronautical charts, and terminal procedures.”

This guidance seemingly clears the way for pilots and aircraft owners to fully digitize their cockpits and associated reference materials, including aircraft manuals and supplements and weight and balance information. The caveats are mercifully short and reasonable. It says that EFBs can be used during all phases of flight in lieu of paper when the information displayed doesn’t replace a system otherwise required by Part 91, is functionally equivalent to the original paper reference, is up to date and valid, and doesn’t interfere with the flight.

"AOPA welcomes the publication of this AC, as it provides official guidance on how to use what has become standard equipment for pilots," said Jim McClay, AOPA director of airspace, air traffic, and security. "We encourage pilots to familiarize themselves with the AC and to ensure that they are proficient in the operation of their EFB."

Ian J. Twombly
Ian J. Twombly
Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.
Topics: Technology, EFB

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