Tuesday, August 30, 2011

iPads help fly your next flight?

iPads have been famous for doing many things, including the seemingly simple task of functioning as an eBook reader.  Well, through a collaboration of the Allied Pilot's Association (APA) and American Airlines, the iPad may now start being responsible for insuring your next safe flight.

Did you ever follow a pilot down the concourse and notice that big rectangular leather catalog case he was carrying?  Ever wonder how many magazines he could stuff in there?  And why does ever single pilot have one of those things? 

Well, it turns out that each pilot is required to carry a flight manual, which consists of pages and pages of paper in an updatable binder.  How much paper? How about 35 pounds of paper. That  represents a whole lot of trees. Each manual consists of flight maps and a whole "how-to" guide to each plane being flown.

Each time there is an update, new pages are printed, they are sent around the world to every pilot and each has to be inserted into their manual.

That's where the APA  and American Airlines got together and brought a little technology to bear. Using iPads, all that paper was digitized and made instantly available to the pilots in a 1-1/2 pound package instead of 35 pounds. These iPads will be known as EFB's or Electronic Flight Bags. Pending final FAA approval, things could get a whole lot lighter in the cockpit. The final testing phase involves Boeing 777 pilots from American Airlines Los Angeles crew base.

The pilots love it because a) they aren't breaking their backs hauling that extra 35 pounds every day for every flight and b) when updates are issued, it's as simple as updating your iTunes library.

American Airlines is happy with the results as well, lowering printing and distribution expenses, as well as reducing fuel consumption by carrying less weight.

The environment wins as thousands of trees won't be cut down.  

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