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Surface Pro 3 can now be used as a pilot's Electronic Flight Bag

Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 tablet has now been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for use as a pilot's Electronic Flight Bag, which means it will replace the old fashioned bulky paper flight manuals.

The older Surface 2 tablet is already being used by Delta Airlines pilots for their EFB but today's announcement on the Surface Pro 3 also comes with news that pilots will also be able to use the tablet with some special software and accessories. One of them is a special mount developed by navAero that the Surface Pro 3 can sit in while in the cockpit of a plane. Microsoft says:

"These mounts leverage the same single connection found on the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station – allowing Surface Pro 3 to plug directly into the plane's electronics through a unique interface to provide simultaneous power, data and display connectivity through one simple connection. For pilots, this means added benefits such as automatic updates to navigational and operational content and access to critical real-time information like weather, wind and turbulence data. Pilots can also easily remove their Surface Pro 3 from the mount and use them as their laptop replacement outside the cockpit."

In addition, the FliteDeck Pro app for Windows 8.1, developed by Jeppesen, lets pilots use Snap mode on the Surface Pro 3 to view flight charts next to other information like weather conditions and more. Do you think it's a good idea for tablets to replace flight manuals on airplanes?

Source: Microsoft

95 Comments
  • Flying high
  • Don't forget to bring a towel.
  • Do you wanna get high?
  • Very cool!
  • happy landing
  • Of course it's not a good idea, it's an awesome idea! Anything that will get more Surface devices out there is always great. This platform needs highly specialized apps like these to be considered worth to have. All this is excellent news for Microsoft.
  • But still...shouldn't they always keep a hard copy just in case?
  • They are required to meet redundancy requirements.
  • Yeah, I wouldn't trust the battery life of a surface 3 for a long haul flight :)
  • That's why a powered mount is a good idea. Plus you dint really need it on most of the time when flying at commercial airline altitudes. Given how fast it revives from snooze or hibernate you could easily do a cross continental trip with it.
  • EFB is always energized through the hot battery bus, even with an electric failure they would remain energized (in this case for around 30' which is the time the pilot has to land the airplane in the event of this emergency)... Too bad my company is using ipads, would've loved to have SP3 instead
  • It's OK. I get it.
  • They are also currently using iPads too correct? 
  • Not really. As someone else stated before me, it's mandatory only that you have redundancy. In modern aircraft one set of charts is integrated in the FMS (ex: IFIS). You add one more set on the tablets (EFB)and there you have your redundancy. This is actually how a lot of the companies have now a completely "paperless" cockpit.
  • Bring on the mile high club jokes
  • Reminded me of Call of duty Modern Warfare 1 mission :3 just saying
  • That is very good, at least the SP3 is very versatile, and will make the tasks very easy for the pilot
  • Now if someone would write a consumer EFB app for the rest of us on the Windows platform, ala ForeFlight.
  • Last I checked, ForeFlight wasn't even on Android. But I agree, we need something good. Maybe an app version of Skyvector, with downloadable maps and airports.
  • Time to buy a new plane then..
  • Why buy a new plane?
  • Because his Gulfstream 3 doesn't even have a remote for the surround sound DVD system.
  • Time to become a pilot.
  • Definitely :-)
  • Not yet. This app is only available to airlines for no which makes me (a student pilot) very sad.
  • Maybe, but tablets do cause magnetic interference with the aircrafts instruments. That's not a lot, but still a prob
  • Electromagnetic interference is so slight, and the sensitive instruments are shielded. If it weren't totally fine, do you think the FAA would have approved it?
  • The purpose of the FAA testing is exactly to check that the possible interferences are not a problem. With modern avionics and modern electronics, this is not an issue anymore.
  • That is an old wives tale. Yes, there is EMI but not nearly enough to cause the slightest issue.
  • Not really... At least on Airbus you still get a lot of false failure indications because of cell phones signals
  • No, It's fine actually. At the moment we use Panasonic Toughbooks in the company i work for without any problems
  • Awesome!!!
  • Haha it sounds awesome I just wouldn't like to see a plane crash because of the BSOD :D
  • Hahahaaa...LOL!
  • Stupid!
  • BSOD joke is so lame these days.
  • Almost as cool as bashing ie
  • BSOD's are caused by third party drivers. Microsoft is the only manufacturer of SP3 so BSOD's shouldn't be a problem.
  • And yet, the SP3 will BSOD occasionally. Stupid Marvell Wi-Fi. Even MS uses third party stuff.
  • Lighten up people, I love Windows but this was a nice joke.
  • Call me a noob, but, what is a BSOD?
  • Blue screen of death
  • Shopping list
    1- B777-300
    2- Surface Pro 3
  • If I could just afford the no.1 from the list I would connecting the SP3 right now :-D
  • Boo, you either go airbus or go home.
  • I like Airbus too. Though I'd go for a Concord too.
  • B773? No... B778, B738 or A350? Yes.
  • I have a plane boner.
  • @dvda247 Haha, a 747 or leer jet?
  • Great idea as with all gps navigation equipment., as long as there is a paper backup just in case
  • The crew keeps a paper backup in the cockpit at all times. The main difference is that instead of one 30kg bag per person, they have one for the plane only now (well, that, and the improved user experience).
  • Wait… so right now every pilot and co-pilot have their own book instead of one book for each planes ?
  • @rluka, the airplane's "books" are always there and we shouldn't remove them from cockpit. Pilot and copilot also carry their own flight-specific documents in paper form, in addition to the ones on the airplane. The EFB replaces the paperwork carried by the pilots, not the one in the cockpit.
  • Chart bags are heavy; think of the fuel savings by the airlines. Fuel is their highest expense. I think Delta bought their own refinery.
  • noice, go Microsoft go..!
  • Cortana showed me an article about how Apple intercepted the Surface in the NFL. Most the TV wagging heads kept calling them iPads on air. This is wonderful, but will take some real push by Microsoft to keep everyone on message,
  • Great news.... more surface more technology in the right place!  
  • It's a brilliant development, and very welcome indeed. But it's coming 4 years late!. C'mon Microsoft you can do better than this guys, you have a better base and you started Windows Mobile long before Apple iCrap and iShit But the iPad has been used as EFB since 2010. The air force are already using 3000 iPad and signed a contract last year for another 18000 iPads, United Airlines already using iPads, same is American Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Qatar, Virgin, JetStar and many many others. Back to work guys, we can't keep coming last and also applauding ourselves for playing catch up. We want windows Mobil devices not only for the cockpit but also with Cabin crew and ground crew too.
  • Dude...better late than never. Be optimistic. Microsoft has a device that can win back the air force. It takes time to wean people off devices. Stop complaining. Is that all you do?
  • Lol no dude, that wasn't complaining. If I didn't like windows phone I wouldn't be using it exclusively since 2002. I started with the HP iPaq with windows mobile 3 (later 2003) and stayed on till release 8.1.1 now, if I wasn't happy I would've changed over to the dark side ;). But fact is we lose the lead and drive when we get busy complimenting ourselves for little achievements. My 2 cents.
  • Nobody has mentioned the huge amount of paper (trees) that's being saved
  • It just means there's more toilet paper to consume now :)
     
  • I love what they are doing here, but the saving trees argument does not make sense... The US produces the majority of its electricity from burning coal, so that kinda sucks... The surface pro 3, like all electronics use scarce materials which wind up in the dump, and are not easily recoverable even if they were recyclable... I mean its cute to think about the trees we are saving (you know, that renewable resource) but its a moot point... All that is done is diverting from one form of waste to another... With that out of the way, I'm glad that Microsoft is making the push to expose the SP3 into new industries!!
  • Great idea, just have a paper backup...
  • And of course jeppesen is abusing their monopoly and charging excessive prices for their apps ($50 + extra annual fees for maps). The Windows app isn't available yet except to airlines with big bucks. I should note that digital maps are significantly less expensive to produce than paper ones yet those only cost $15...
  • Obviously their going to need to adjust their prices for GA when available... But I agree, I still think all my plates, sectionals and enroutes are overpriced...
  • Nothing can't change a book.
  • So that is the improvement of our window ^^
  • My company has been providing ruggedized tablets for military pilots for a few years now.
  • Finally we can use a surface inflight. Bored of the ipads we had to carry.
  • And they will all call them ipads.....
  • Excellent
  • As a pilot I'm excited to see this. But where is the app? Foreflight is the ios app most pilots use. Also, I didn't think the Surface Pro 3 had GPS, a very important hardware connector allowing real time map positioning.
  • They probably have an add on USB device to remedy that, since it is a PC, that has millions of drivers available to it.  Surface Pro 3 is a real PC, that has no Apple App Strings on it.  The reality is that this hybrid tablet has the power to make the App and the maps, unlike an iPad.  MS SP3 FTW!
  • I'll write a Windows app. If I can get the data! (App dev with GIS programming background). I remember my dad (a 30-year AF veteran and civilian flight instructor) periodically updating a ring binder full of Jeppeson maps.
  • Please turn off all devices for landing and take off. Oops not that one! Sorry got to reboot the plane!!
  • Takes all of 9 seconds!
  • I would still prefer the paper copy
  • As someone who sees planes in the air all of the time, this is really cool. Now if only the rest of the flight app industry can get on board and port their flight apps to Surface, then I won't have to get an iPad.
  • Windows 10, and Universal Apps FTW!
  • Where can I get FliteDeck Pro to use with FSX? :D Nice to see Surface Pro got approved. However I kinda think it's a bit pricey for the airlines, thus I think majority will still go with iPad. i3 SP3 costs ~800EUR around these parts, whereas iPad Air ~510/600EUR (32/64GB), which will be more that enough for charts and documentation. Sure SP3 being a proper computer can more, but iPad doesn't lack in specialized applications. Most of the airlines (i.e. airberlin) have in-house developed applications for their pilots. That being said, I love using my ASUS T100 as an EFB when I play FSX!
  • This deal is awesome, with or without a USB GPS device added, since it is a PC, that has millions of drivers available to it.  Surface Pro 3 is a real PC, that has no Apple App Strings on it.  The reality is that this hybrid tablet has the power to make the App and the maps, unlike an iPad.  MS SP3 and Windows 10 Universal Apps FTW! 
  • Great idea so long as they don't get plugged into the plane. I mean what if a virus jumped from the sp3 to the flight pc
  • You're joking right? You know Independence day wasn't a documentary? 
  • Nice!
  • Seriously - If it's not Boeing, I'm not going!  
  • It's an awesome idea! While there are surface tablets involved it's really cool :D
  • It's ok, when battery lives long enough!
  • While I can't speak to your battery use, I'll just comment that these devices will be available with a mount that provides charging.  As for my personal use, the SP3 gets fantastic battery life.
  • Awesome cool idea... It will help to gain popularity as well as sophistication of the tablet..
  • Beautiful.  However, pilots should still be trained on how to look up info in books and the books should be readily available in case something happens (as I am sure this will be the case - just saying!).  I really love these dang devices.
  • Sweet, I wonder if the Navy will let me put one in my F-18. JK
  • Crap... I'm not sure I'm going to US this summer... A horny porn-loving pilot will crash his Surface;)
  • Cool!
  • I am waiting for the Best app like ForeFlight MobileGarmin Pilot,Jeppesen Mobile FlightDeckFlight Guide iEFB and WingX Pro7 for windows platform so that the Sync process gets much more easier to the users of Windows platform. By Sync all the data from laptop or mobile or from mobile. Hope the team work on it and get it done so that the users can use it