With the popularity of the iPad on the rise, American Airlines is the first major airline to implement Apple’s tablet in its flight plan. In mid-September, American Airlines received the OK from the FAA to use the iPad on planes in the Boeing 777 fleet “during all phases of flight”. This means that pilots can use the device for pre-flight preparations as well as during and post-flight operations. The program has been named the “Electronic Flight Bag Program”, and the overall goal is to move away from relying simply on paper manuals.
From the moment they arrive to work to the moment they leave the plane, pilots have an immense amount of paperwork not only to complete but also to refer to. Using the iPad to replace such items will provide a more convenient way for pilots and crew to access all their necessary documentation. This new initiative will also save American Airlines an estimated 1.3 million dollars a year in fuel costs previously caused by the weight of these paper manuals. Typically, a pilot’s flight bag weighs around 35 pounds. With the iPad now allowed in the cockpit, the flight bag may become obsolete.
American Airlines is in the process of testing the use if tablets by crew members by supplying iPads to all pilots within the 777 fleet. These tablets will be preloaded with the proper software – serving as the first step AA is taking towards becoming a fully “paper-free” airline. Additional plans include phasing out all paper flight manuals in 2013 as well as using iPads for flight attendants. With the 777’s becoming the first fleet within American Airlines to make use of the iPad, we’re left to wonder how long it will be until every fleet within American is equipped with the tablets.