01 March 2017

Paper or Electronic: What's Your Go-To Flight Bag?

So how accurate is your paper flight bags? 

Sure, flying started out as a dream until the Wright Brothers built the first airplane to successfully take off in all of history. That was 1903, back when flying was perceived as wizardry and flight manuals were carried everywhere in a bag that weighed up to 40 lb/18 kg or more which consist of charts, documentation, equipment, and accessories. The tough part was carrying 12,000 sheets of paper which should be handled with care or else risk spilling water over it or worse, see it fly out your window! We know traditional pilots have experienced these misadventures for sure!

There are numerous ways paper can just mess up the whole flying experience. Tossing important flight gears into your bag is one thing but carrying loads of paper is another. Below are some disadvantages of paper flight bags: 

  • may need meticulous care and maintenance in daily operations, in case of emergency, papers can fly or fall over the cockpit
  • it tears up between folded lines, making it unreadable
  • papers do not get updated real time
  • may get stuck in between the bag's zippers
  • smudged texts become unreadable
  • the thousands of pages add unnecessary weight
  • may be hard to read when the sun shines on it

We could list down the most horrific of experiences that traditional flight bags carry but it goes on and on. We’re sure you’ve had one too many which bring us to our main point: thank goodness for electronic flight bags (EFB)! 

The Development of EFBs

As EFBs emerged, it now offers a more handy tool for pilots that incorporate manuals, documents, navigation and other tools all in one small space without having to deal with the inconvenience that paper offers. It saves space, effort and time. 

With documents in digital format, EFBs weigh a fraction less than the traditional flight bag weighing typically like a laptop. It also saves space compared to the bulky bags your grandpa pilot uses. EFBs provide a convenience that its traditional counterpart can’t provide especially when processing paperwork which takes longer to do. With EFBs, pilot workload is reduced while at the same time increasing safety.  

Like the traditional flight bags, EFBs have its limitations too. As it contains all the necessary requirements in a smaller and more handy equipment, it is subject to battery limitations. Even with smartphones, we’ve experienced running out of battery, overheating and accidentally damaging the device. Some companies have developed iPad cooler that can extend the battery life of the device.

Both types of flight bags may have its own limitations but with technological advances, the modern pilot will always opt for convenience. So if you were to choose between carrying a big bag filled with paper versus a laptop sized carry on, which would you choose? It’s an obvious choice.

Best Practices

Of course, best practices should still be followed by making sure backup support for EFBs are prepared. The likes of chargers/ power banks, spare batteries, heat, and impact-resistant cases should be in a pilot’s go-to bag. One may say that accessories equate to the sheets of paper but think about not having to discover you’ve left one sheet lying around somewhere versus all documentation you need stored in one place.

Other than getting the necessary accessories ready, a backup tablet is also recommended but not required when flying outside of your local area. This is a good practice when you only rely on your phone when flying local. A tablet has bigger screen view and provides a better approach perspective when approaching outside the charts of your local area.

If you opt for the more traditional backup tool like paper charts, that is ideal too especially for pilots who want to learn the traditional method of reading maps.

Backups with one subscription

If you’re like most busy professionals who have multiple gadgets ranging from an iPhone, android phone, tablet and laptop, these can be your choices for backup EFBs. When you subscribe to Air Navigation Pro, it allows you to use the subscription across different gadgets. 

For example, you download the app on your iPhone and created an account from there. You also have an android tablet and iPad that you want to use interchangeably as backup support. With your Air Navigation Pro subscription, you can download the app on all devices and use your subscription on all of them as long as you log in with the same services.xample.ch account.

Types of EFB Devices

It is highly recommended to use a tablet as your main EFB device. It's much more ergonomic to use an EFB application on a tablet because of the bigger screen size, allowing for more space to toggle using your finger than on a phone. Using your smartphone as an EFB during turbulence can be tricky, so think about it.

Study also shows that most pilots use iPad mini and iPad on their flights. Here's Air Navigation Pro's top device chart by models from our users. You'll notice that iPad Mini with Retina has the most installations while the iPhone 6 dominates for mobile.
Repartition of device from Air Navigation Pro users.

The Perks of Going Digital

Who flies liking the idea of bringing around bulky logbooks? You’ll always be thinking at the back of your head, what if you risk losing those papers? These thoughts end up occupying your mind
instead of you enjoying your flight. 

Why would you want that extra worry at the pit of your stomach thinking about what else you’ve forgotten to bring aside from the twelve thousand pieces of paper occupying your flight bag?

Pilots fly for the magnificent views, the feeling of hanging in mid-air and the deep breaths that are required for smooth landings. The advent of EFBs have given all pilots that chance to enjoy flights with the benefit of a flight bag all rolled into one: a smaller, light weight, pocket-sized version that is easy on the shoulders and allows pilots to share their adventures while navigating thru the air.

There may be some challenges that EFBs possess but the advantages outweigh the common hurdles of paper flight bags. Not only that, the beauty of this innovation allows people outside the aviation field to get a sneak peak into the mesmerizing world of aviation, viewed from the cockpit. Pilots can readily share their experiences with family and friends making it a more rewarding experience.

So, are you a modern pilot? Or lean towards the more traditional kind that still carries paper charts around? What works best for you? Tell us in the comments below!

to discover more about the Flight planning application Air Navigation Pro iOS, 
you can also visit our website at 
and check the manual for additional details on how to use the new features. 

Blue Skies,
The Air Navigation Pro Team


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