The Federal Aviation Administration has given approval for American Airlines to equip their pilots with Apple's iPad. Not only does the company want to be an innovator and leader within the aviation industry, the electronic devices help the airline to use less fuel. Replacing the heavy paper manuals will save the airline up to 1.2 million dollars worth of fuel a year.
The iPad weighs around 1.44 pounds (652 grams). The traditional flight bags with paper manuals and charts weigh around 35 pounds (15,8 kilograms), and are used by pilots all over the world. The airline could save on fuel costs even more, since it wants to equip flight attendants with tablets as well. American Airlines is testing how the iPad can reduce the workload of flight attendants, but for now, only its pilots will make the switch.
The airline will call the iPad kitbag the 'Electronic Flight Bag' and according to vice president Captain John Hale, the switch is an important milestone for American Airlines:
With this approval from the FAA, we will be able to use iPad to fully realize the benefits of our Electronic Flight Bag program, including improving the work environment for our pilots, reducing our dependency on paper products and increasing fuel efficiency on our planes
Back in 2011, American Airlines started a trial with the iPad as an electronic flight kit on select flights. As of this month, it will equip all Boeing 777 pilots with the Electronic Flight Bag. The company hopes all fleets will be using it before the end of the year, but it needs the FAA's approval. It would make American Airlines the first commercial airline to have all pilots use the iPad in the cockpit during all phases of flight.
Other airlines use tablets as well, such as United Continental and Alaska Airlines. If the FAA approves other tablets than the iPad, American Airlines will evaluate those as well.