Pilots Get Approval To Use iPads Instead Of Paper Manuals In 'All Phases Of Flight'

American Airlines will be the first commercial airline to have its pilots use iPads in "all phases of flight", following approval from US aviation authorities. The tablets will replace 16kg of paper reference manuals and is expected to save money in more ways than one.

Based on current fuel prices, The Next Web estimates that the move to replace paper reference manuals with iPads will save the airline some $US1.2 million annually across. This month, American Airline's 777 fleet will be the first to get the technological upgrade. It's expected that all fleet types will eventually be approved for the switch, which means the paper-based manuals will cease revisions.

This is a huge environmentally friendly move for American Airlines: not only will the tablets save fuel since they weigh much less, but they will also save paper for every manual printed and revised across the company.

It would also seem to confirm what we've all long suspected: there is no real safety risk having a tablet turned on during take-off and landing. [TNW]

Images: Nickolay Lamm/Inventhelp



    I hope they invested in backups of some kind if the battery fails!

    Why iPads? The job could be done on something quarter the price... I think the no electronics turned on thing is just a blanket thing as it's too hard to teach average non tech people don't use things that can transmit.

      For a number of reasons, content distribution is much easier on the iPad (the "cloud"), you have the ability to track and control the iPads and they will also be used for other purposes off the flight as well.

      Perhaps you can point us in the direction of a tablet with a 10 inch high resolution screen and ten hour battery life for US$125?

        You don't need cloud and you don't need retina displays, it's all over kill for what a e-reader could easily replace... used for other purposes off the flight? they are supposed to replace one thin g, a heap of books...

          There's lots of reasons Craig. Hardware uniformity is probably the biggest though. And the ability to go into an Apple store in any country in the world and get a replacement, put your ID in, download all your apps and you're good to go. It makes a lot of sense to go with the most popular tablet in the world, because at the end of the day pilots will be carrying, dropping and losing these things, so it's best to have a ready supply of like-for-like replacements.

          Distributing app licences is a PITA though, especially with crew based in multiple countries.

    "It would also seem to confirm what we’ve all long suspected: there is no real safety risk having a tablet turned on during take-off and landing."

    There's a massive difference between two highly trained pilots using certified equipment on the flight deck and 200 people with no idea what flight mode is using their ipads up the back.

    Given the extreme sensitivity of ILS systems I'm happy for them to err on the side of caution.

      Unless the pilots are using their special pilot mind powers to steer the device's electromagenetic emanations away from the electronics, their training has no bearing on the suitability of consumer electronics for use in proximity to instruments.

        "their training has no bearing on the suitability of consumer electronics for use in proximity to instruments."

        Yes it does, actually. A large part of the training that pilots receive for using ipads on the flight deck revolves around effectively using them in a way that minimises the risk of EMI. Passengers get no such training.

        I can't speak for this airline, but the airline that I work for is installing special brackets and sheilding in the cockpit so that EMI is directed away from critical instruments and ILS receivers in particular. Not only that, but the ipads can't be turned on until they are mounted in the bracket.

        There has been a hell of a lot of work done by a hell of a lot of people to establish safe working practices for ipads in the cockpit, and frankly it pisses me off no end when people try to use it as a justification to play angry birds while their plane is on approach. If you can't appreciate the difference between ipads being used in a controlled manner in the cockpit and ipads being used by a passenger then you have no business making any comment.

    Food for thought - what if it goes flat?

      In flight charger wouldn't be that hard.

    Great idea, until they realised they had to turn them off during take-off and landing....

    First in the world?

    They've been talking about this in Australia since June/July.

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