Lugging around all the charts and papers required by commercial pilots can be a pain – literally. Now comes word Apple’s iPad is taking a load off pilots of one airline, replacing 40-pound flight bags with a 1.5-pound tablet. By the end of May, 8,600 American Airlines pilots will swap the heavy bags of charts, maps and manuals for the iPad, easing one of the industry’s largest sources of injuries…
“We’ve reduced the single biggest source of pilot injuries: carrying those packs,” said Patrick O’Keeffe, American’s vice president of Airline Operations Technology, during his New York City keynote address this week at the TabTimes Tablet Strategy.
The iPad is also expected to trim the airline’s fuel bill by $1 million, as we as cut printing costs, O’Keeffe added. The FAA has so far approved only the iPad for use in the cockpit with American Airlines the only carrier allowed to deploy the Apple tablet throughout flights.
The airline is using Android-based tablets in other operations, some 16,000 Samsung Galaxy Note devices being used by crew members. In one instance, the tablets are used by flight attendants to track food, seating and updates from the gate.
While American is now the only airline approved for widespread use of tablets, other carriers are also rolling out tablets. Australia’s Qantas, for instance, uses iPads for in-flight entertainment, as well as Apple’s iOS 6 Passport feature for digital boarding passes.
U.S. airline passengers are still waiting for the FAA to declare in-flight use of smartphones safe. Earlier this year, a report surfaced indicating the federal agency has preliminarily approved the iPad as safe for flights.