Wednesday, August 24, 2011

iPad’s Domination Spreads to Cockpit:

United Airlines and Apple announced today that the airline will deploy 11,000 iPads for its United and Continental pilots. This is the first major airline to replace paper flight manuals with electronic flight bags, or EFBs.

“The paperless flight deck represents the next generation of flying,” said Captain Fred Abbott, United’s senior vice president of flight operations, in a press release. “The introduction of iPads ensures our pilots have essential and real-time information at their fingertips at all times throughout the flight.”

Alaska Airlines ditched paper charts for iPads in June, following Executive Jet Management’s lead. The FAA allowed the company’s pilots to use iPads as their primary source of information starting in February. Delta has also been testing out tablets with their pilots. They are first testing the iPad, and then will test the Motorola XOOM.

Just like on land, Apple’s iPad is dominating the scene.

“What makes the iPad more attractive, in comparison to its competitors, is that it is extremely stable and is less likely to experience a system crash. Even if that did occur, the reboot time is one of the fastest in the tablet market,” said Resolve Market Research analyst Kari Cafouros. “These advantages are more appealing to companies when choosing to give out tablets to their employees, compounded by the fact that they know their employees already want the device for personal usage.”

The switch to tablets on board aircraft isn’t just good for Apple. United’s plan will save 16 million sheets of paper and 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year, because each 1.5-pound iPad will take the place of about 38-pounds of operating manuals, flight charts and checklists, logbooks, and informational papers pilots normally reference. Paper-based flight bags normally house over 12,000 sheets of paper… per pilot.

The iPads will run software called Jeppesen Mobile FliteDeck, which includes interactive route navigation information and geo-referenced terminal charts.

Image courtesy United Continental Holdings

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