348th Reconnaissance Squadron implements Electronic Flight Book solution

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Elijaih Tiggs
  • 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The 348th Reconnaissance Squadron recently began using an electronic flight book program to support RQ-4 Global Hawk operations at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Air Mobility Command wings were approved to use a similar solution in 2017 for their manned aircraft, and the 348 RS is now applying the technology to their unmanned aerial systems.

Capt. Kenneth Gilbert, 348 RS RQ-4 chief pilot, is the EFB program manager for the unit. Gilbert’s previous unit was under AMC and his experience with their program drove him to introduce new efficiencies to the Global Hawk community.

EFBs are electronic tablet devices that give pilots improved accessibility to training documents, navigation equipment, flight manuals and Air Force Instructions. The 348 RS EFBs are Apple iPad mini 4’s that have been equipped with approved apps to better prepare the pilots to complete the mission.

Gilbert stated the priorities of this program are increasing pilots’ knowledge and reducing waste from excess printing at a savings of $10,000 a year.

Before the EFBs could be implemented they had to be set up for optimal security as the intent is for pilots to use them in classified processing areas.

Gilbert said when the EFBs are configured properly, they can be taken into Global Hawk cockpits within the secure area. Although reaching that specific configuration through multi-level coordination was the most challenging part of this 15-month long process, it is a major factor in the device’s usefulness and the major difference between Grand Forks AFB’s EFBs and those used in AMC.

The application of the EFBs extends outside of the cockpit which is added value for the pilots.

“About a week before my check-ride I was issued an EFB and I used it to study some of the documents at home, which helped me feel more comfortable going into that check-ride,” said 1st Lt. Christopher Waldron. “It’s hard to get some of the documents home because they can be 100+ pages, and with having that all on an iPad, I came out of my check-ride with no downgrades on my general knowledge.”

The 348 RS is the test-bed for EFB use with United States Air Force UASs.

“We are at the starting point with the long-term goal of putting a device in everyone’s hands,” said Gilbert. “As we test and get better with it we will push out the procedures and best practices to the rest of the Global Hawk community at Beale Air Force Base and the other detachments.

Matching the technology of the Global Hawk to modern handheld technology is a pairing that drives innovation and better prepares new UAS pilots.

“EFBs are not revolutionary, they are evolutionary and aid our aircrew to capitalize on current technology,” said Col Kendall Gillespie, 348 RS commander. “When configured with necessary apps and interface protocols and features, these devices become force multipliers by enhancing access to real-time mission information and fostering effective study habits. We fully expect that the relatively small investment in technology will lead to even greater mission effectiveness.”