Pilots have always needed paper charts, maps, airport diagrams, and checklists to safely operate and navigate around the world. Those documents must be updated and printed every month. Recent advances in technology have resulted in the option to shift from paper to electronic publications and maps, which is often referred to as the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB). The use of EFB devices offer significant cost savings to operators, and it adds a significant level of situational awareness that paper maps were never able to provide. EFB tablets provide moving map displays, Geo-referenced airport approach plates, weather, and traffic overlays, as well as other features that are constantly evolving. However, neither the Navy, nor private companies, have specified the location of EFBs in the flight station. Suction cups to side windows and window ledge mounts are frequently used, but they are not ideal and can damage property. Some aircraft, such as the MD-80, prohibit mounting anything to the side windows or the window ledge because of egress requirements. In the interest of standardization, EFB mounts should be moved to the control wheel yoke, front, and center, where the paper charts and publications were formally placed.
Three Navy pilots flying from Point Mugu, CA, to Hawaii on a mission conceived a simple idea to solve a major Navy problem. The challenge was how to mount their iPad in the cockpit in a safe, secure, and easy-to-view location. Their solution was simple but profound. Why not install the mount directly to the yoke. Practically every aircraft has some center faceplate on the yoke, and many are configured to hold checklists or charts. The pilots then researched commercial companies that developed high-quality mounts for iPads and after trying a few prototypes decided on PIVOT mounts. Pilots worked with the Point Mugu Machine Shop personnel to fabricate a new customized plate with holes cut to exactly match the face of the specific aircraft yoke. In addition, holes were also drilled into the plate in the industry standard AMPS hole configuration, which allowed the PIVOT mount to be attached to the plate. For the beta test, a “special projects” P-3C aircraft was chosen, which could highly benefit from the installation. Using this customized faceplate method, mounts could be either permanent or semi-permanent via a few screws. The exact location of the AMPS hole pattern on the plate was important, so the iPad would not interfere with the movement of the flight control or the pilot’s ability to see the aircraft dash instrumentation.
Lead inventor: John Paul Collmus. Other inventors: Nicholas John Duckworth, Scott Matthew Reider, and Chong Taek Oh.
How it Works
The new customizable yoke faceplates are made of aircraft-grade anodized aluminum and can be painted to match the aircraft interior. Currently, yoke mount adapters are designed and certified for three different unique aircraft yokes. The three aircraft yokes have a common feature in that they create a flat mounting surface with a set of holes in the AMPS hole pattern configuration. The AMPS hole pattern is an industry-standard that consists of four holes located in a rectangular pattern 30mm by 38mm. With a few yoke measurements, the system can be configured to support a certified EFB mounting system across a spectrum of types, models, and series of aircraft. Integration based on the size, shape, and existing yoke layout empowers an easy design and installation without modifying aircraft structures. Extensive military testing was conducted, including strength, crash loads, developmental flight testing, operational flight testing, human interface suitability, and military verification and validation flight testing. The new device adapts and leverages mounts and tablet cases for EFB purposes.
Military aviation, commercial airlines, aircraft manufacturers, commercial pilots, private pilots, the aviation industry, and foreign military sales can all benefit. The designing pilots first mounted the iPad to the yoke of a P-3C and later adapted the device for the P-3A and the C-130. The methods used can be applied to accommodate most commercial, military, and general aviation aircraft. It is currently in use on P-3C, P-3A, and C-130 aircraft at VX-30 in Point Mugu, CA, with provisions for installation on Gulfstream IV/ C-20 aircraft. Multiple Navy squadrons are working to have yoke mount adapters installed on their aircraft. The Navy and Marine Corps are now considering the new yoke mount adapters for use on the entire C-130 fleet. Today, the C-130 is operated by over 60 countries around the world. In the United States, C-130 aircraft are operated by the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Air National Guard, Coast Guard, and civilian companies. In addition to military applications, there are an estimated 130,000 commercial pilots in the U.S. who can benefit from their iPad mounted to the yoke of their aircraft. The mount interface was designed for aircraft applications but could be useful on ships, trains, trucks, cars, heavy machinery, farm equipment, etc.
- New aircraft yoke adapter allows easy mount for iPads and other tablets
- Allows pilots to view EFB aviation data in a safe and secure easy-to-view location
- Customizable depending on aircraft yoke configuration
- Semi-permanent or removable depending on the aircraft configuration
- Businesses can commercialize the technology by licensing U.S. Patent Application 16/265,217 from the Navy
- License fees paid to the Navy are negotiable
- Technical Readiness Level (TRL): 9, prototype available, already in use by Naval Squadron VX-30
- TechLink guides businesses through evaluation and licensing; services provided at no cost