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2 May 20242 minute read

FAA updates guidance on electronic flight bags, pointing toward the digital, paper-free cockpit

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued updated guidance for aircraft owners, operators, and pilots on the use of electronic flight bags (EFBs) with the release of Advisory Circular (AC) 91-78A.

This update, which is permissive and not a mandatory regulation, clarifies that EFBs may be used in lieu of almost all paper reference materials for pilots, resolving long-standing uncertainties since their introduction over a decade ago. The use of EFBs has become a standard practice for pilots. While the AC does not require the use of EFBs, it underscores the importance of proficiency in operating EFBs to ensure the benefits of digital documentation may be fully realized and align with FAA regulations.

The AC discusses the benefits of using EFBs and the criteria for using them in lieu of paper reference material, as well as considerations for the use of specific EFBs, including portable and installed EFBs. It also confirms that EFBs can be used to store essential flight operation information such as pilot operating handbooks, minimum equipment lists, weight and balance calculations, aeronautical charts, and terminal procedures in all phases of flight instead of paper as long as the information it provides:

  • does not replace equipment mandated by Part 91
  • offers a functional equivalent to paper material
  • remains current and accurate and
  • does not cause interference with flight operations.

The FAA further recommends that operators assess the human-machine interface and aspects governing crew resource management, provide training on the use of EFBs, and follow security procedures. This paves the way for pilots and aircraft owners to transition to cockpits that are fully digital, easily updated, and clutter-free.

Learn more about the A and its implications by contacting any of the authors.