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American Airlines Pilots to Start Using iPads This Week

By - Source: ZDNet | B 41 comments

American Airlines has been given the go-ahead to allow its pilots to use iPads in the cockpit.

Early this year, United Airlines announced that it planned to adopt a paperless flight deck and distribute 11,000 iPads to United and Continental pilots as part of a new electronic flight bag scheme. This week, American Airlines will throw a plan into action after receiving the approval from the FAA. ZDNEt claims to have received confirmation from a source that says the airline was just recently given the green light to allow the use of iPads (both the first and second generation) in place of paper flight manuals. AA is said to have flown thousands of hours with iPads to test the device.

"On Friday, American Airlines is the first airline in the world to be fully FAA approved to use iPads during all phases of flight," this source is quoted as saying. "Pilots will use iPads as electronic chart and digital flight manual readers. The airline will begin iPad operations on B-777 aircraft, and then implement across all other fleets." 

By replacing paper flight manuals with iPads, American Airlines will be improving both safety and efficiency on its flights. ZDNet's source indicates that though other airlines (such as continental) have made their plans to replace their paper manuals with iPads, they have not received approval to conduct flight operations in all phases of flight.

Read the full story here.

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  • -5 Hide
    zubikov , December 15, 2011 2:05 PM
    Will they have a picture of Alec Baldwin set as the background? Also, I'm sure timing is just coincidental, but many pilots will be getting pink slips and massive salary cuts just as they see less-critical updates such as books replaced by iPads.

    It's ironic how AMR just filed for bankruptcy to try to cut costs and restructure itself as a company. Sounds like a poorly-managed company.
  • 9 Hide
    CaedenV , December 15, 2011 2:10 PM
    man, and here I was hoping I would be safe while traveling for Christmas. Now I am going to have a pilot crashing into a mountainside while distracted with Angry Birds...

    On a related note of distracted pilots: http://roosterteeth.com/archive/?id=4040
  • 0 Hide
    mcd023 , December 15, 2011 2:16 PM
    I feel good for the guy that wrote the program that they'll be using, unless they're just using a pdf reader
  • 1 Hide
    soo-nah-mee , December 15, 2011 2:16 PM
    Capt. Sully would not approve.
    I can just see them playing multi-player Doodle Jump up there and missing their destination like those NWA pilots that were grounded for playing with their laptops.
  • 4 Hide
    JMcEntegart , December 15, 2011 2:31 PM
    soo-nah-meeCapt. Sully would not approve.I can just see them playing multi-player Doodle Jump up there and missing their destination like those NWA pilots that were grounded for playing with their laptops.


    Or Words with Friends.
  • 6 Hide
    igot1forya , December 15, 2011 3:14 PM
    Does this mean a representative for the passengers can come into the cockpit to ask the Pilot to turn off there electronic devices? "I'm sorry sir, Airplane Mode isn't enough. Please turn off your iPad"
  • 9 Hide
    freggo , December 15, 2011 3:48 PM
    Just wondering; does that mean passengers can now also use their iPads during 'all phases of the flight' ?

  • -3 Hide
    Steveymoo , December 15, 2011 3:55 PM
    And in other news, my employer just upgraded all of workstations to sandy bridge xeon multi cpu systems.

    Isn't that exciting?

    And relevant?
  • -3 Hide
    neoverdugo , December 15, 2011 4:01 PM
    No wonder that they declared bankrupt. Instead using an Android tablet or WebOS Tablet they decided to buy the most expensive and user-unfriendly tablet in the market.
  • 3 Hide
    Zagen30 , December 15, 2011 4:13 PM
    "Just wondering; does that mean passengers can now also use their iPads during 'all phases of the flight' ?"

    No. From what I understand, the ban on electronics during takeoff/landing isn't so much about interference with traffic control signals (other than phones, which definitely could interfere), but that they don't want loose objects smacking people during those phases (and they are more likely to move around when the plane suddenly tilts up or down or banks in one direction).
  • 2 Hide
    ajkritch , December 15, 2011 4:14 PM
    neoverdugoNo wonder that they declared bankrupt.


    Actually, the cost of buying several hundred iPads is a one-time investment. Continually carrying around up to 20 pounds of paper charts costs an airline over $1m in fuel per aircraft per year.
  • 0 Hide
    ajkritch , December 15, 2011 4:18 PM
    Also

    neoverdugothey decided to buy the most expensive and user-unfriendly tablet in the market.


    Are you suggesting that Android devices are more user friendly than Apple devices? I'm no Apple fanboy, but that's the dodgiest of dodgy claims. Apple's entire business model pretty much centers on user-friendliness.
  • 2 Hide
    house70 , December 15, 2011 4:43 PM
    Yes, that's what pilots need in cockpit... more toys for distraction. Next time we'll be lucky if they overshoot their destination only by 100 miles, instead of going all the way to Russia.
  • 5 Hide
    house70 , December 15, 2011 4:52 PM
    Zagen30"Just wondering; does that mean passengers can now also use their iPads during 'all phases of the flight' ?"No. From what I understand, the ban on electronics during takeoff/landing isn't so much about interference with traffic control signals (other than phones, which definitely could interfere), but that they don't want loose objects smacking people during those phases (and they are more likely to move around when the plane suddenly tilts up or down or banks in one direction).

    Ummmm... no. They let you read books, but they scoff at e-books (happened to me). AFAIK, books can as easily fly off one's hands as e-books, even more so, because they're bulkier. It's only about interference (and sheer ignorance about what a non-WIFI-non-radio-enabled e-book is about).
    They're assuming the pilots know how to put their devices in airplane mode, and also that all the passengers are a bunch of ignorant people... hence the double standards.
    And, BTW, the chances of radio interference from handheld devices like cell phones are next to zero, since they operate on different frequencies than FAA equipment; that's why pilots are sometimes actually using their phones in the cockpit (of course, away from public eyes). They already know the risk is not there anymore (not with modern equipment).
    Another example: they won't let one use their GPS during flight (even a stand-alone GPS) for same bogus reasons, even though such a device is just a receiver of GPS signals, which are out there anyways and being used by the plane's GPS itself.
  • -4 Hide
    diellur , December 15, 2011 4:53 PM
    jacekring, he's right, it would cost that much...and I'm an aeronautical engineer, so I think I have an idea. :) 
  • 2 Hide
    otacon72 , December 15, 2011 4:57 PM
    neoverdugoNo wonder that they declared bankrupt. Instead using an Android tablet or WebOS Tablet they decided to buy the most expensive and user-unfriendly tablet in the market.


    Oh please any Android tablet is just an oversized Droid and any iPad is just an oversized iTouch. They should've waited until W8 tablets started coming out for the sole reason of being able to do more with them. Maybe they could've consolidated even more with a tablet running a real OS.
  • -1 Hide
    NightLight , December 15, 2011 5:26 PM
    i'm sorry, but i'm rooting for an exploding battery related plane crash. Maybe then sanity will be restored.
  • 0 Hide
    Raidur , December 15, 2011 6:44 PM
    Who makes decisions like this anyways?
  • -6 Hide
    diellur , December 15, 2011 8:31 PM
    jacekring,

    Your calc assumes 200 pounds of weight for your ticket, but you don't account for the proportion of weight of the aircraft you're also paying for. That weight includes structure, avionics, interior, fuel and (amongst a lot of other things) the flight manuals. You need to think of the total cost to in tickets to fill the plane versus the cost to operate it for that flight, then work out what proportion of the cost is allocated to the manuals.

    American Airlines in 1987 removed 1 olive from every meal in first-class for every flight. So that's about 50 olives per flight and that saved them approximately $40,000 that year.

    1 olive = 0.004 lbs
    50 olives = 0.22 lbs

    Assume 100 flights a year (in reality it's more but this is just to see how it scales up):

    100 flights * 0.22 lbs removed = 22 lbs removed
    Removing 22 lbs over 100 flights saves $40k.
    Over 100 flights, this is $1,818/lb/flight.

    Flight manuals = 20 lbs
    If we removed flight manuals, weight saved over 100 flights is 2,000 lbs.

    Savings by removing flight manuals / cost of carrying flight manuals over 100 flights = 2,000 lbs * $1,818/lb/flight = $3.64M.

    It's not hard to see how removing 20lbs of payload from the aircraft per flight can save $1M/year in a real-world scenario.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 15, 2011 8:56 PM
    So pilots flying airplanes can go ahead and have ipads to doodle on but we as drivers can't use our cell phones while driving!?!? makes sense...
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