ipad flight bag cockpit

As most of you have probably heard by now, flight bags are going digital. This means that pilots are getting approval to replace their 30-40lb bags of paper company and flight manuals with a 1.5lb tablet—typically an iPad.

American Airlines is on the forefront of the movement, and it has just begun installing iPads in the cockpits of its MD-80 fleet. And the folks over at AOL’s Gadling travel blog were able to catch one of them in action…

American is loading up the new iPads with company and Jeppesen flight manuals, approach plates and more. In fact, as noted in the video, American is the first airline to receive approval for paperless Jeppesen manuals.

To get approval, the iPads were outfitted with Hypermac backup batteries—which can extend battery life up to 24 hours—as well RAM mounts to secure the tablets in the cockpit. They also underwent a range of testing.

“To get that approval, American had to have the iPad tested in a hypobaric chamber to simulate how the device would handle during a rapid decompression. They also had to arrange for mount testing with the FAA, which is ironic since our manuals weigh far more than the iPad and aren’t secured in place. Many takeoffs have resulted in a book or two sliding off the side table and onto the floor.”

Next up on the list, says Gadling’s Kent Wien, is replacing the “reams of dot matrix printed paperwork” that pilots are required to carry. Once that happens, and weather is added to the iPad, cockpits will be truly paperless.