FAA Approves In-Flight iPad Use for Pilots

— September 14, 2012

American Airlines is expanding its iPad Electronic Flight Bag program after receiving FAA approval to use the device in the cockpit during all phases of flight.

Pilots will be using the tablets in approved aircraft to reduce or replacd paper-based reference material and manuals in a pilot's carry-on kitbag. Removing the 35-pound kitbag from each plane will save the airline an estimated $1.2 million of fuel annually, based on current fuel prices.

"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. We are equipping our people with the best resources and this will allow our pilots to fly more efficiently," says Captain John Hale, vice president of flight at American Airlines.

There's an App For That
As part of the program, pilots will use mobile software and data from Jeppesen, a unit of Boeing Flight Services. The FAA-approved app, which is allowed for gate-to-gate use throughout all phases of flight, will provide real-time, up-to-date electronic information that is easier to access and will increase operational efficiency, enhance situational awareness and reduce airline costs.

Other airline employees, like flight attendants, will also be using the technology. “Our flight attendants have also been piloting an initiative on handheld tablets, which will give them better information about the customers on their flight and travel needs. We'll have more to share on this and other industry-leading technologies in the weeks and months to come," says American Airlines CIO Maya Leibman.

Pilots will start using the devices this month on the airline's 777 fleet. The airline aims to have FAA approval for use in all fleet types by the end of 2012. Beginning in January 2013, the airline will stop distributing paper revisions to its flight manuals and most navigation charts. To ease the transition company-wide, all active pilots and instructors will receive an iPad for use in training and flight.

The airline first received FAA approval to use the devices in the cockpit in 2011, which came several months after the airline completed testing with pilots using iPads in the cockpit. The first FAA-approved device to be tested is the iPad, and other tablets will be evaluated for use if approved by the FAA.

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