Thanks to its PC innards, Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 is starting to replace both paper-based documentation and iPads in plane cockpits. And this week, that process is now formalized, with Surface Pro 3 achieving device qualifications as FAA and EASA Electronic Flight Bags (EFB).
"Surface Pro 3 has qualified for authorization for use as an EFB during all phases of flight, as defined by both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)," Microsoft's Cyril Belikoff writes in a new post to the Surface Blog. "Through this assessment process, Surface Pro 3 completed rigorous environmental and situational tests, satisfying a lengthy and important part of the FAA authorization process."
To be clear, Surface had already been used as EFBs for the past year on Delta. But these qualifications will speed up the process significantly, Microsoft says, and allows the device to be used to its full potential, versus serving just as a simple document reader. (Delta had originally picked iPad but made the switch.)
Additionally, Microsoft also revealed that navAero has joined the Designed for Surface (DFS) accessory partner program and will build an in-cockpit mount for Surface Pro 3 that connects to onboard power and data systems.
"This new solution lets airlines enable a true connected cockpit experience and so much more," Belikoff notes. "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."
This connected mount will also allow pilots to get automatic updates for navigational and operational content and access to critical real-time information like weather, wind and turbulence data.
Finally, Microsoft also announced that the popular FliteDeck Pro app is now available for Windows 8.1, helping pilots to view their digital charts side-by-side with other data such as gate information or real-time weather directly via Surface.