SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Air Mobility Command recently achieved a milestone with its electronic flight bag initiative.
“All AMC wings are now approved to use electronic flight bags,” said Richard Quidgeon, AMC electronic flight bag requirements manager.
Electronic flight bags are portable electronic devices that consolidates nearly 120 pounds of paper products into a single tablet. The tablet contains electronic flight information publications such as navigational charts, and also digital publications, such as Air Force instructions and technical orders.
The command’s EFB initiative, which began in 2010 for the purposes of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of AMC aircrews, takes advantage of current technology and saving the command nearly $3.8 million per year.
“The initiative began as a way to save fuel,” Quidgeon said. “For every pound of weight removed from the aircraft, you save a certain amount of fuel on a given sortie. For instance if you remove 120 pounds of paper from every single sortie, we calculated the command would save about $780,000 per year in fuel cost within the mobility air forces.”
Quidgeon added that the command also saves about $3.7 million in printing and distribution of paper.
Cost savings alone were not the only added value with using EFB. Increased safety and knowledge enhancement are also added benefits for aircrews and aircrew support, said James Williams, AMC EFB project management support.
“Using EFBs enhances the crews’ access to technical orders. When the Air Force transitioned from paper publications to electronic publications, the crews didn’t have a viable means to review e-pubs when off-duty,” Williams said.
At one time it was a challenge for aircrews to study their publications and stay proficient during their off-duty time because they had to come to the squadron and use a government computer to review their flight manuals, Quidgeon said.
“We want to help crews remain proficient at all times,” he said. “Now, with the EFB, crews have an e-reader, and they can read and receive updates anytime they want.”
EFBs also enhance safety by allowing aircrews to access emergency checklists quicker; calculate aircraft performance for safer departures and arrivals; and accurately calculate aircraft weight and balance for loading planning purposes.
Quidgeon and his team also ensure another important safety aspect was taken into consideration when selecting the EFBs’ tablets — the tablets vulnerability to hacking and virus.
“Working with the Defense Information Systems Agency’s security technical implementation guide, we know how to configure the tablet for government use, and how to configure each tablet to ensure it has the most secure cyber posture,” Quidgeon said. “We’ve applied those instructions to every tablet so that it’s locked down and there are certain things you can’t do on our tablets that you would normally be able to do on your personal tablet.”
The team stressed that although it took seven years to reach this milestone, the benefits and advantages EFBs gives AMC outweigh the challenges and obstacles they’ve faced.
AMC has been working toward this since 2010, Quidgeon said. We’ve overcome significant cyber security hurdles and naysayers, but the initiative is becoming a reality and we are working the next step in the process to keep the initiative current and up-to-date.
“Our pilots are very happy,” Quidgeon added.