The Federal Aviation Administration has cleared the way for airlines to begin dumping their hefty flight manuals in favor of iPads.
In June of this year, Alaska Airlines began a test program that saw 25 pounds of paper manuals replaced by 1.5 pounds of Apple hardware. They were satisfied with the results and noted that it would save approximately $1.2 million worth of fuel per year. The iPads use an app called GoodReader to display the manuals, which are in PDF format.
Says American Airlines of its take on computing in the clouds:
On Friday, American Airlines is the first airline in the world to be fully FAA approved to use iPads during all phases of flight. Pilots will use iPads as electronic chart and digital flight manual readers. The airline will begin iPad operations on B-777 aircraft, and then implement across all other fleets. By using electronic charts and manuals, the safety and efficiency on the flight deck is significantly enhanced. Both the iPad I and the iPad II have been approved for use. Other airlines such as United, Alaska, and UPS are also reviewing this potential, but none have been approved to conduct flight operations in all phases of flight except American. This FAA approval cumulates the results from a six-month test period whereby American flew thousands of hours with iPads to test and evaluate the product.
We are assuming that 3G and Wi-Fi are turned off at all times and that pilots are not feeding their Words With Friends addiction when they should be flying the plane.