A couple of weeks after Alaska Airlines announced plans to ditch paper flight manuals for reading them via iPads, the much larger American Airlines has started testing the same concept for its own pilots. Marketwatch reports that the airline will allow pilots to use iPads for reading digital versions of their flight manuals and also their flight maps on two international flights from Los Angeles (one to Tokyo, the other to Shanghai). Alaksa Airlines has yet to replace their flight maps with the iPad.
Part of the reason for the move is that the Federal Aviation Administration has allowed the use of iPads for all aspects of an airline flight, including takeoff and landing, when normally all electronic devices must be put away during those time periods in a flight.
As with Alaska Airlines, the decision to use Apple's tablet device for flight manuals and maps were mainly weight related. The normal bulky paper flight manuals can weight up to 35 pounds and can be hard to access by the pilots in flight. Switching to a 1.5 pound iPad for such manuals will cut the weight down drastically on flights. In fact, American Airlines says that the company could save as much as $1.2 million a year in fuel costs if it fully switches over to the iPad for its flight manuals. There's no word yet when or even if the company will move to have all their pilots use iPads.