Electronic Flight Bag in short referred as EFB remains unexplored by many Heli-Operators believing that it benefits widely fixed wings and large aircraft operations. Helicopter operations unlike fixed wings involve more complexities in terms of Weight & Balance monitoring and quick Turn Around Time (TAT) especially for EMS and Offshore Passenger services. Helicopters operated under harsh / remote conditions leaves less time for the crew to manage on-board documents and perform crucial load calculations during several stages of flight. EFB is one stop solution which would revolutionize helicopter operations.
Helicopter pilots carry huge chunks of documents in Flight bag stuffed together with navigational charts, emergency checklists, Plates, Operational manual etc. weighing around 30-40 pounds. Already the heli-cockpit which is constrained with space becomes cumbersome due to this extra load. For instance pilot who faces emergency situation and is in need to refer Emergency Checklist requires additional time to review the paper manual before taking any action. During such conditions even split seconds matters for decision making.
Above all, operational challenges are critical ones faced by many helicopter operators in day to day operations. Weight and Balance (W&B) calculations for helicopters become crucial for safety of flight with nature of its operations. When on air or in helipad, it becomes pilot’s duty to calculate W&B so that Centre of Gravity (CG) is always within its pre-determined range. This ensures that helicopter is always in controlled flight. Pilots perform complex paper work using calculators to derive CG which consumes extra TAT on ground.
How EFB helps overcome these Challenges:
EFB is the replacement of traditional pilot’s flight bag with the aim of making the cockpit paperless and importantly, the pilots work to be effortless. It holds up-to-date electronic version of manuals, navigational charts, checklists, logbooks, Weight and Balance information and just what a pilot needs to operate an aircraft. EFB device can be operated without any connectivity to network and can be synchronized whenever connectivity is available. This enables its usage for remote operations which is predominant in heli-operations. All information made available to pilots is in accordance with the updated data in ground station.
EFB plays a critical role in Weight and Balance determination where, with very minimal inputs, Center of Gravity is calculated. This ensures faster TurnAround Time (TAT) and reduces significant efforts of pilots towards manual calculations.
Classes of EFB to choose from:
EFB is categorized in three classes as Class I, II & III based on their integration with aircraft system and functionalities. Depending on each operators requirement corresponding system can be selected.
Class I – It is typically a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) equipment such as laptops or handheld electronic devices (tablets). They are loaded with required software and since being portable it needs to be stowed during Landing and Take Off.
Class II – It is similar to Class I EFB but difference is that it can be physically mounted in the cockpit. Mainly it can be used in all phases of flight, including takeoff and landing. Class II EFBs are mostly software-loaded laptops/tablet or ‘purpose-built’ EFBs designed to suit a pilot’s habits.
Class III – This type of EFB are permanently integrated with Aircraft’s Avionics System. As it is considered "installed equipment", they are required to abide by airworthiness regulations as per regulatory authorities.
RAMCO ELECTRONIC FLIGHT BAG:
Ramco Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) provides Class II EFB with a unified interface to the flight crew which helps manage most of their tasks on-board. By integrating with downstream processes like maintenance, billing and facilitating up-to-date information, Ramco EFB can provide critical real time information to the maintenance crew and billing team for planning their activities.
“Ramco EFB” interacts with “Ramco EFB Central” application, a “Ground Station Interface” which synchronizes aircraft type configuration information and all related reference documents to EFB device. EFB Central also integrates with “Ramco Maintenance and Engineering (M&E)” application to extract master data of Aircraft record and crew information. Ramco EFB in turn pushes the operational data like Journey details, Maintenance Parameters and billing details to Ramco M&E application. This makes Ramco EFB a complete end-to-end integrated application.
Some of the key Ramco EFB features are:
- Real time Electronic Log Entries pertaining to Flight Information, Discrepancies and Flight Delays.
- Update and Maintain On-Board References such as Documents, Checklists and Charts.
- Integrated Navigation and Fuel Planning enabling operators to plan both flight route and fuel requirement automatically.
- Weight and Balance Calculations: Operational flexibility to calculate weight and balance with both “By Average and By Seat” method.
- Integration with Ramco Maintenance & Engineering suite which facilitates auto update of journey and maintenance parameter information.
- Capability to link with billing module which ensures accurate contract based customer invoicing.