Pilots ditch paper, switch to iPad for nav and checks

United Airlines recently announced it was replacing the hefty flight manuals and chart books its pilots have long used with 11 000 iPads carrying the same data. Now instead of ruining their backs carrying 17 kilograms of paper instructions, data and charts, they can ruin their nerves trying to get the devices past TSA security screeners.

The popular tablet computer will carry the Mobile FliteDeck software app from Jeppesen, a Boeing subsidiary which provides navigation tools for air, sea and land.

“The paperless flight deck represents the next generation of flying,” said Captain Fred Abbott, United’s senior vice president of flight operations.

“The introduction of iPads ensures our pilots have essential and real-time information at their fingertips at all times throughout the flight.”

It will be supplied to all pilots on United and Continental flights; the two carriers merged in 2010.

United is the second major US carrier to adopt the iPad as a key pilot flight aid.

In May Alaska Airlines also adopted it, after the Federal Aviation Administration okayed the iPad for cockpit use.

United estimates that using the iPad will save 16-million sheets of paper a year, and that the lighter load it represents will save 326 000 gallons (1.2-million litres) in fuel.

“With iPad, pilots are able to quickly and efficiently access reference material without having to thumb through thousands of sheets of paper and reduce clutter on the flight deck,” the company said.




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