Pilots to Use iPads in Place of Paper?

For years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has required pilots to carry bulky paper charts and manuals on each and every flight. However, that may soon change. For the first time, the FAA has granted approval for two charter companies to use tablet computers instead of the cumbersome paper documents, clearing the way for commercial pilots to join the thousands of private pilots who have replaced paper with iPads.

USA Today reports that Alaska Airlines is testing iPads on a few of its planes and that Delta Air Lines and America Airlines have plans to begin tests soon. While safety advocates are generally excited by the prospect of tablet computers in the cockpit, some, like National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman, Debbie Hersman worry about distractions, calling the new technology "a two-sided coin." The Oct 21, 2009 incident in which two pilots, distracted by laptop computers, flew past their destination is the type of event safety advocates fear.

Pilots, for the most part, are all for using tablet computers in place of paper, pointing out that devices like the iPad are faster, lighter, and more versatile than paper, not to mention a way for airlines to save millions of dollars a year by using less paper and fuel. Private pilots, who aren't bound by FAA rules concerning tablets in the air, have already made put aviation apps on the best seller lists at Apple's App Store.

"Any pilot who looks at it, wants it," Michael Klein, president of Maryland charter operator OpenAir, told USA Today. "It's better than paper. It does everything for you. It's amazing."

USA Today

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Categories: Gadgets and Gizmos

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