iPads coming soon to a cockpit near you

American Airlines has won approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for its pilots to use iPads in the cockpit beginning Dec. 16, ZDNet reports.

Pilots will use the tablets to read electronic versions of charts and data manuals, replacing many of the heavy, cumbersome paper charts and books they have relied on.

In addition to providing faster access to updated documents, the use of iPads will also save on fuel, since it means lighter baggage for flight crews, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The paper reports that the airline could save $1.2 million in fuel costs every year now that flight crews will be carrying the 1.5-pound tablets instead of lugging around 35 pounds of paper.

The move is also being touted as a safety measure by The Allied Pilots Association union. "By eliminating bulky flight bags filled with paper, [electronic flight bags] mean less weight for pilots to carry, reducing the possibility of injury on duty," said Hank Putek, a member of the union's Safety Committee.

American's flight crews will use the iPads during all phases of flight, "even during takeoff and landing," the New York Times reports. This is, of course, against the rules for passengers, who are required to shut off electronic devices when planes are taking off or preparing to land, as actor Alec Baldwin recently discovered. Yet, as the Times points out, pilots are much closer to a plane's delicate electronics than passengers seated in coach.

The FAA, which did limit the number of approved devices to one per pilot, justified the different rules this way: "This involves a significantly different scenario for potential interference than unlimited passenger use, which could involve dozens or even hundreds of devices at the same time."

About the Author

Donald White is an assistant managing editor with 1105 Government Information Group.


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