Paperless Cockpit

Airbus A340-600

The Airbus A340-600 was the first aircraft used to test a new electronic work pad. Pilots used to carry an awful lot of paper to their workplace

For many passengers the black leather bag is just as much part of the civil aviation pilot’s image as the uniform with its three or four stripes. In the past it was a must for every pilot, because it contained essential documents like manuals, maps and the pilot’s personal accessories.


The digital pilot’s bag underwent detailed tests in the A340 flight simulator before its clearance for use in commercial service

© Deutsche Lufthansa AG

 Although digital technology has long been in general use on board civil aircraft – the first-generation A340 had a more or less totally digitized cockpit as far back as the late 1980s – pilots were still having to carry a whole lot of paperwork around with them. But the vision of the paperless cockpit has now become reality and the pilot’s bag is on its way out.

Lufthansa and Lufthansa Systems, the airline’s IT subsidiary, have designed the Pilot’s EFB (Electronic Flight Bag). This is a mobile work pad containing all the necessary data, including navigational maps. The first-generation EFB is already being used both on the ground and by pilots during cruising flight, but it has not been cleared for use during takeoff and landing.

The latest generation EFB, introduced in 2008, is currently being mounted in cockpits. Touch screens displaying very clear data are attached to the side windows. The work pad is integrated into the aircraft’s information system and can be used during all phases of flight. The new EFB was first tested in the A340 simulator and then on board the A340-600.

It is also an integral part of the A380’s cockpit and is scheduled to become a standard fitting on all Lufthansa aircraft in due course. Although the EFB will replace the old pilot’s bag, that bag (or imitations of it) is still going to be around for quite some time. Because it has become a status symbol used by many frequent travelers.