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Abstract

The proliferation of mobile technology has prompted the use of tablet devices in the cockpit and during ground operations in general aviation. Due to the increase in affordable and reliable hardware (i.e. iPads etc.), the development of pilot-specific software has led to the creation of a commercial-of-the-shelf (COTS), electronic flight bag (EFB) market. EFBs have many advantages, such as reducing the space requirements for flight documents, enabling faster searching and indexing of files, providing useful tools for flight planning, and providing automatic updates. The increase in availability of mobile technology and flight applications has allowed general aviation enthusiast and ab-initio pilots to utilize EFBs. This paper examines the usability of three of the most popular commercial EFB software programs: Foreflight mobile, Garmin Pilot, FltPlan Go. The usability study was developed for the ab-initio demographic (time), which primarily constitutes pilots who have completed their cross country training. The study assessed 30 ab-initio collegiate flight students on a series of tasks during each flight application. The usability of the applications was based on task success, time to complete the task, efficiency of the application, and learnability. The students also completed a pre survey, the NASA Task Load Index (TLX), System Usability Survey (SUS), and post survey, respectively. An Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was conducted to compare the scores of the three applications. The results of the study show that Foreflight had the best scores across all metrics.