iPads phased in for pilots

2012-09-17 08:17
Pads will soon be ubiquitous in American Airlines cockpits, but don't expect pilots to be playing "Angry Birds" instead of paying attention to the flight path.

According to eTurbonews AA will be replacing pilots' bulky 35-pound bags full of navigational charts, log books and other flight reference materials with the 1.5-pound Apple tablets - in the hopes of going digital by the end of 2012.

The Airline is expected to save at least $1.2 million a year (about R9.9 million at R8.28/$), based on current fuel prices.

Spokesperson for the company Captain David Clark, an active AA pilot said, "We know what each aircraft burns in terms of weight per hour, so for every pound, you can measure the fuel burn."

iPads aren't new on the scene. The Federal Aviation Administration approved the use of the tablets in 2011, but American is the first commercial carrier to receive the agency's approval to use them in the cockpit during all phases of flight from gate to gate, including during landing and takeoff.

Many airlines are using flight apps, which don't require Wi-Fi once installed on the tablets.

Clark says the initiative is designed to not only save American money but, since each flight bag is made up of thousands of pages that must be updated constantly, to be a valuable time-saver as well.

"It takes me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, an hour and a half, for revisions to take out the old page and put new pages in. That's at least three to four times a month," he said.

User error in misplacing a page here or there will be eliminated, improving the navigational charts' accuracy. "We've got all of our charts into a digital format," Clark said. "Every two weeks, we get revisions. It pushes updates, we touch the icon, and it updates."

Eliminating the need for the reams of paper each kitbag requires is another consideration, as well as preventing personal injuries.
"Each kitbag can weigh 35 to 45 pounds," Clark said. "It's a quality of life thing. We have a lot of pilots in these very small cockpits that are trying to gingerly place kitbags in very small (areas). We've seen pulled muscles and injuries on duty."

He understands that consumers may have concerns about playing games or being distracted by other entertaining iPad apps.

"We are professionals, we have rules that we follow, and our licenses and crew depend on our being professional and following the rules. And our pilots are good at that. We self-police, so we will be keeping an eye out."

Read more on:    flights  |  travel international

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