Other than the fact that EFB must be installed with appropiate charts and other manuals, is there any difference between EFB and normal tablet? Can I use the same tablet I play Plant VS Zombie as EFB if I load appropiate charts?

  • $\begingroup$ There is no difference, most pilots use regular iPads. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 11:16

2 Answers 2


The FAA (unsurprisingly) has definitions of different types of Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) systems, which you can find in AC 120-76C. It's targeted at airlines, but the concepts are generally applicable.

They break them down into Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 EFBs, and the answer is a little different for the different classes:

Class 1 EFB Hardware.

This is what most of us General Aviation Folks use: A portable computer or tablet considered "portable electronic devices" with no specific FAA approvals.
Per the FAA a Class 1 EFB can't be "mounted to the aircraft" or connected to the aircraft systems or a dedicated power supply (i.e. they can't be permanently wired into anything), but you can plug them in to an "existing aircraft power supply" (like the cigarette lighter port) for battery recharging.

This is what most of us GA folks are using - an iPad with Foreflight and Stratus is technically a "Class 1 EFB".
This is just a regular computer, so it can in fact be the same device you play Plants vs Zombies on (though if you're using it in an airline environment they've probably locked it down and restricted what you can do: Plants vs Zombies is probably not available in the cockpit of your Southwest flight).

Class 2 EFB Hardware.

Class 2 EFBs are essentially Class 1 EFBs that get mounted to the aircraft, but can be easily removed by the flight crew (for example a GPS or iPad in a panel-mounted cradle) and may connect to aircraft data systems via cables or wireless connections (for example Garmin's Flightstream system).
Class 2 EFBs have the same battery-charging provision as Class 1 EFBs, but can't be directly wired into aircraft power. As far as the FAA is concerned they're still "portable electronic devices".

This is what the more advanced bits of GA are using - An iPad with Garmin Pilot communicating with your GTN stack via flightstream to get its GPS position & transfer flight plans.
Again this can be the same device you play Plants vs Zombies on, but the operator may have locked it down to keep their crews from flying past their destination while playing with their laptops.

Class 3 EFB Hardware.

Class 3 EFBs are installed systems with FAA approvals (for type-certificated aircraft).
The chart data stored on e.g. a GTN650 or GMX200 with charts and plates loaded on it would qualify here, as would flight management systems on larger aircraft.

Generally you won't be playing Plants vs Zombies on Class 3 EFB hardware because the approvals for it wouldn't include that capability.
The exception here is the Experimental Aircraft community: Such aircraft may have a consumer tablet installed in the panel and wired into ship's power in such a way as to qualify for all practical purposes as a "Class 3 EFB", and it's possible you could play Plants vs Zombies on your installed iPad in such an aircraft.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1, does Class 3 include the factory built-in EFB's on airliners? $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ @ymb1 I'm not sure how something like the FMS would be classified here, but it would seem to fit the description of "Class 3 EFB" - the iPads that have replaced chart binders on many airlines on the other hand would be Class 1 EFBs (or Class 2 if they connect to the onboard avionics for position & weather data) $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 16:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I mean like the one on the 777 to the captain's left side. AFAIK it offers moving map function but is not linked to the FMS. You do performance calculation on it then manually enter the data into the CDU. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 16:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ymb1 Ohhh the one just aft of the captain's cupholder (where the clipboard for approach plates and such used to be) -- Yes, that's a Boeing-installed EFB available as an option on the 777, and since it's a permanently installed alteration to the aircraft it would be a Class 3 EFB :) $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 19:08

Our airline uses second and third generation iPads with CAA approved applications, cockpit mounts(holders) and chargers.

Basically, this combination of iPad(tablet)+software+equipment is EFB.

If AppStore would't be locked you could install and play PvZ.

Heres you can find some material about EFB:





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