From Vision to Tablet: New Jeppesen App Returns Simplicity to the Cockpit

From Vision to Tablet: New Jeppesen App Returns Simplicity to the Cockpit

Issue 2

Think about what you’ve done on your phone since this morning. You likely sent email, texted with a spouse or friend, ordered something online, checked the score of your favorite sports team, posted on social media, or did some banking. You might have even made a phone call. No question, a mobile device is a vital tool for managing your life.

Mobile devices—specifically tablets, or more accurately portable electronic devices (PEDs) containing electronic flight bag applications (EFBs)—are also essential tools for managing pre-, in-, and post-flight operations for any flight crew. Still, jumping between apps, which seems easy when managing your day-to-day life, can diminish the power of an EFB and the effectiveness of a flight crew during day-to-day operations. This lack of effectiveness only gets magnified during heavy workload situations in the cockpit—a time when flight crews need the power of their EFBs the most.

We recognized the challenges of presiding over multiple apps to manage a single flight, and produced a solution that syncs and synergizes the critical apps needed to effectively manage a flight, harnesses the collective power of multiple apps working as one, and seamlessly integrates any third-party apps on the market into its framework. 

A BALANCING ACT

Today, there is more information available to flight crews than ever before. More information leads to enhanced safety, better situational awareness and more efficient operations. With the flood of information comes more tools (apps) to manage it. This restatement of the obvious is noteworthy because anytime there are increases in data to be managed and tools to manage it, there is an added element of complexity. 

However, adding more complexity to cockpit workload becomes a balancing act. For every app that reduces workload, there is a need to enter data, learn a new user-interface and understand yet another workflow. Additionally, for every new app that comes into the cockpit, there is the possibility of data-entry errors, and the potential for fixation on a single task that can distract flight crews from seeing the bigger picture.

Put another way, the digital eco-system created in commercial cockpits by Class 3 EFB requirements has been lost, or at least relegated to the shadows. 

“With the Class 3 there was underlying software, or core software is what we call it, that housed everything and provided lines of communications between the apps and between the applications and the aircraft,” explained Ben Monnig, Flight Deck Solutions Program Manager. “That was lost when we transitioned into the tablet ecosystem.”

Open for Integration

Jeppesen’s new app is built on a platform that seamlessly integrates key flight planning, charting, performance, weather and other critical functionality from Boeing and Jeppesen. But that’s where the innovators behind the app-integrating solution started—not stopped. In addition to app functionality, Jeppesen’s vision includes simple storage for manuals, procedures and other documentation that flight crews need to operate aircraft and function as employees. And all of it is accessed through a simple, intuitive dashboard that offers a single point of entry and an interface that reduces the app-hopping workload.

According to Ricky Drake, Flight Deck Solutions Product Manager, “It streamlines the workflow for the entire flight operation. Whether it is the plug-and-play platform that allows apps from Jeppesen, Boeing or a third party to ‘plug in’ to this data-sharing framework; whether it is allowing all the applications to talk to each other; or whether it is making each application in the framework smarter together; we’ve streamlined the workflow to help flight crews better keep their head in the game.”

One key to returning simplicity to the cockpit is the ability to accept and integrate approved third-party apps into its system. Tim Huegel, Director, Portfolio Management, explained that after surveying airlines, over 85% said the ability to integrate outside apps was a must have. “When an airline is asking, Can I place my airline-developed application in this framework?  Can I include another vendor’s application into this framework? Can I add performance modules for a mixed fleet into this framework? Our answer is yes.”

Another way to think about the power of including outside apps is that it is a multiplier. When a solution is limited to certain apps, the result is, at best, addition of functionality. By opening the door to any/all relevant apps, the nearly unlimited power of integrating functionality, data and workflow creates an exponential value to the tens, hundreds or thousands of EFBs you have deployed right now.

All that power stems from the number one—one dashboard, one point of entry, one user-interface, one workflow.

Moving Past Clutter and Complexity

The driving principles behind Jeppesen’s new app—reduced workload, a single point of entry and distribution, enhanced user experience—are just as relevant to the IT professionals who manage app and device updates at the operational level. With the app handling the bulk of the work, data moves effortlessly between EFB, airplane, operations servers and other airline-approved EFBs. Syncing and updating of devices is also centralized.

Speaking of effortless, Huegel added that flight crew training time has been reduced significantly compared to days gone by. “One of an airline’s largest concerns when a new product is introduced is the amount of time needed for training,” explained Huegel. “We estimate four hours or less for pilot training. This is something that can be done with computer-based training and not necessarily classroom training.”

EFBs were, in their infancy, an attempt to bring simplicity to the complex operating environment of the airline cockpit. Over time, EFBs grew more complicated as additional apps were created. Jeppesen’s new app, which is scheduled for rollout in the third quarter of 2016, harnesses the complexity of today’s EFBs and, through integration, simplifies operations. This move toward simplicity brings with it the values of safety, efficiency, productivity and enhanced intelligence. Contact your Boeing representative to learn more about how Jeppesen’s vision—and new app—could bring more simplicity to your operation.

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