American Airlines About to Jump on the ‘iPad in the Cockpit’ Bandwagon

Several airlines have transitioned to replacing paper manuals and charts in airplane cockpits with iPads after the FAA approved the use of iPads on major airline flights.

American Airlines first began testing iPads in the cockpit last year, deploying the tablets on its B–777 aircraft. Its initial testing went smoothly, and today, the company is ready to put iPads in the hands of the 8,000-plus pilots that it employs.

The iPads will be used to replace existing paper manuals and navigation charts, which are both bulky and heavy. Typical flightbags can weigh between 35 and 50 pounds, and are filled with data that could potentially be needed in an emergency.

By dropping those precious pounds, American Airlines expects to save approximately $1.2 million each year in fuel costs, and those iPads will make searching for necessary information a much simpler task thanks to specialized software.

American Airlines’ cockpit iPads will be running software created by Jeppesen, which is a division of Boeing Flight Services. The software includes real time, up-to-date electronic information that’s easily accessible by pilots.

According to American Airlines captain Richard Levy, the iPad is a welcome change. “It will be a weight off our shoulders, both literally and figuratively,” he said. Levy currently spends 90 minutes doing pre-flight work, which will now take a fraction of the time with the iPad.

Pilots who fly Boeing 777 wide body aircraft will be the first to get the new iPads this month, while rollout to all American Airlines pilots is expected to be completed by January 2013.

[via Chicago Business Journal]

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