Where Are You in the EFB Transition?

Editor’s Note: Following a complete and successful transition from paper charts to electronic flight bags (EFB), we spoke with John Brutnell, Director of Global Operations for ExecuJet, about lessons learned. ExecuJet, along with parent company Luxaviation CMI, operate over 250 business aircraft from offices around the globe. ExecuJet is in a unique position to offer insights that might help you on your transition to an EFB, as well as integrating other digital tools created to help optimize business aviation operations.

If you’re a global operator based in the United States, odds are you’re moving away from paper charts and are using an EFB to some degree. And why not? The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is more active than many of its peer agencies in embracing new technology. With the world’s largest aviation market under a single set of rules, U.S.-based aviators of all stripes can adopt new technologies faster.

What about the rest of the world?

Using round numbers from a 2013 NEXA Advisors/NBAA study, approximately 35% of business aviation operators are outside North America. It’s not a stretch to assume that they are also in widely-varying levels of EFB conversion. The reasons range from cultural morays that are slower to embrace change; to regulatory guidance that is unclear, inconsistent, or conflicting; to managing the expense; to skepticism about the value of EFBs or even if the technology has fully ripened yet. Of the reasons for slower EFB adaptation, the most prominent is the large number of independent and powerful national airspace authorities (NAAs) crammed into relatively small continental spaces. As the role of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) matures and evolves, EFB adaption is sure to be streamlined, unified and clarified.

In the meantime, whether you’re currently following the practices of FAA, EASA, International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) or others, change is impacting your operation. Regardless of where you are in your EFB transition, Brutnell and ExecuJet’s experience and insights could prove valuable in your transition. Here are some key thoughts from our discussion:

  • Expect Regulatory Confusion…For Now—“The industry is embracing EFB transition. We need to get that message through to the operating authorities. We do see lots of different approaches and, definitely in the ops environment, if an approach is acceptable for one, it should be acceptable for all. We should all work with the NAAs to develop a common implementation or a common understanding of digital operations.”
  • Embrace The Change—“Change is our business. We like anything that makes us more efficient and safer. This definitely does—from minimizing error management to just making the airplane lighter—we don’t see the transition from paper to digital as anything but very, very positive.”
  • Information Sent Is Information Tracked—“(EFBs) are massively efficient for circulating information. When you’re dealing with remote operations or airplanes that you might not see for months on end, you can harmonize the most up-to-date information, put it through a server, and know that people have actually seen it. In days past, you’d send an ops manual (for example) and 1) not know if they received it and 2) not know if they read it. Now, Big Brother is watching, and for an operator that’s great.”
  • Plan. Then Act.—“It’s a fast-moving industry and we must manage the speed of that change. We spent a lot of time planning for this transition. It’s not just getting a bit of software and sticking it on an iPad and off we go.  It’s important to us that we manage this change carefully, very straightforwardly and proactively.”
  • Don’t Forget the People in Back—“This is an investment. We’re in a very lucky place where we can make that investment and ultimately deliver value to our customers because we’re running more efficiently. The person who was looking after paper a few years ago, now has much more time to absolutely concentrate on that ultimate service to the customer, which is just fantastic.”

While Brutnell spoke from the perspective of a charter operator/airline, his views are just as relevant when the “customer” is management or executives from a company-owned flight department—maybe moreso.

Where Are You?

Imagine two dots connected by a straight line. The left dot is labeled, 100% Digital. The right dot has the words 100% Paperby it. Where would you put your dot on that continuum? It’s likely no two operators would put their dot in the same place. Still, using a simplified version of Everett Rogers famous Diffusion of Innovation Theory, you can get a better sense of where you are in the innovation (EFB) adoption process, when you might be likely to convert and why:

Innovators—You like to be bold, adventurous and want your dot to be on the 100% Electronic space before most even hear about it—much less thought about how to switch.

  • Early Adopters—You’re watching the Innovators and studying how they’re using digital tools to operate. You’ll want your dot to move left quickly, but only after you’re sure the Innovators are seeing some practical benefit from the transition.
  • Early Majority—Most fall in this category (or Late Majority). You want proof that going paperless will work, and you like that the Innovators and Early Adopters got the kinks worked out before you made the switch.
  • Late Majority—You’re skeptical. You’ll wait for proof and won’t make the switch until you’re sure a digital transition is a guaranteed winner, the costs are as low as they’re going to get, the transition process is at a peak of simplicity and the pain of operating with paper is greater than operating without.
  • Laggards—You’re traditionalists who find that the paper system still works just fine. You won’t make the switch to digital until you’re forced to. Even then, the switch will be slow, incremental and only when regulations or other outside influences require it.

No matter where you are in your paper-to-electronic (P2E) adoption, put Jeppesen’s leadership to work. Whether it’s general guidance about the processelectronic charting solutions or EFB products, Jeppesen will help you plot a course for an electronic charting transition that’s just your speed. To learn more, contact Jeppesen at (800) 353-2107 or email Jeppesen by clicking here.

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