(PCMAG.com/Adario Strange).- Months after becoming the first commercial carrier to win Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to use iPads as electronic flight bags during all phases of flight, American Airlines has expanded the program and will outfit all pilots with the Apple tablets.
Pilots will begin using the iPads later this month on the airline's commercial 777 fleet, but the company hopes to get the tablets on all flights by the end of the year. To help facilitate the transition, pilots and instructors will receive their own iPad for inflight use and training purposes. The tablets will be loaded with software from Jeppesen, a subsidiary of Boeing. Although American Airlines didn't specify which version of Jeppesen's software it plans to use, FliteDeck Pro appears to be Jeppesen's premier product designed for use as an electronic flight bag (EFB) solution. Jeppesen recently posted a video detailing exactly how the iPad app is used to help commercial pilots ramp up efficiency during flight routines.
According to American Airlines, the shift from the 35-pound paper kit to the iPad version will save the company roughly $1.2 million of fuel annually. "This is a very exciting and important milestone for all of us at American Airlines as we work to modernize our processes and best meet the needs of our people," said John Hale, American Airlines vice president. "With this approval from the FAA, we will be able to use iPad to fully realize the benefits of our Electronic Flight Bag program, including improving the work environment for our pilots, reducing our dependency on paper products and increasing fuel efficiency on our planes. We are equipping our people with the best resources and this will allow our pilots to fly more efficiently."
This latest development is likely just the beginning of a major move away from legacy materials; there are already plans to phase out all paper revisions to American Airlines flight manuals by 2013. While the iPad appears to be the go-to EFB solution at this point, American has confirmed that it is open to evaluating other tablets for use once they are approved by the FAA.