American Airlines Pilots First to Use Apple iPads for Flight Manuals

This September, American Airlines is expanding its iPad Electronic Flight Bag program. There will be 777 aircraft pilots who will start using Apple’s tablet during all phases of flight. In turn, it will help the airline save $1.2 million annually on fuel costs.

Apple’s iPad as Electronic Flight Bag

At the moment, Apple’s iPad is the only tablet approved by Federal Aviation Administration as an Electronic Flight Bag. In addition, American Airlines is the only FAA approved commercial carrier that can use the device in all phases of flight.

An Electronic Flight Bag reduces or replaces paper-base reference materials, which could weigh in at up to 35 pounds, that are usually kept inside a pilot’s carry-on kit. According to the airlines, replacing a 35-pound bag with an iPad could help them save up to $1.2 million on current fuel prices.

American Airlines first gained the approval to use iPad as an Electronic Flight Bag last June 2011, and this month, it is planning to use the tablet in all phases of flight. As stated by the airline’s Vice President of Flight Capt. John Hale:

This is 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. With this approval from FAA, we will be able to use iPad to fully realize the benefits of our Electronic Flight Bag program, including improving the work environment of 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.

The pilots of American Airlines will use mobile software and data from Boeing Flight Services unit Jeppesen. The FAA-approved application will replace paper operating manuals with real-time and up-to-date electronic information, which will be more accessible for the pilots.

American Airlines and iPad in the Horizon

The commercial carrier will start using Apple’s iPad for its 777 fleet this month, and it is aiming to get an FAA approval to all of its fleet types before the year ends. Starting next year, the airline plans to stop distributing paper revisions of the flight manuals and most of its navigation charts. According to Maya Leibman, chief information officer:

We’re focused on building a new American where technology and innovation are fundamental to the company’s return to industry leadership and exceptional customer service. The Electronic Flight Bag program is just one more example of the progress we’re making to provide the tools our employees need to deliver operational improvements and leading customer experience.


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