Qantas pilots get iPads to replace flight docs

Qantas is rolling out 2200 iPads to its pilots, who will no longer have to lug around 20kg of flight documents on each flight.

Qantas has partnered with Telstra to provide its pilots with iPads for use in the cockpit.

(Credit: Qantas)

Starting in September this year, 2200 64GB iPads will be distributed to Qantas pilots, who will use them to access operational information instead of referencing paper documents. The devices will replace the flight plans, manuals and forms, and will keep pilots up to date with flight data.

Two apps have also been created specifically for pilot use: a charts app created by Boeing subsidiary Jeppeson, and a Qantas-built app to provide other flight information.

Qantas said that it currently prints 18,000 pages of flight-operation information each day; it hopes that the introduction of iPads will reduce this number to 3000, and cut the weight of paper that pilots carry on-board by 20kg.

"The revolutionary capabilities of iPad technology, combined with the powerful customised apps, give our pilots the ability to replace cumbersome hard copies — saving time, resources and costs," Qantas technical pilot, captain Alex Passerini, said in a statement.

"This initiative is a response to strong demand from our pilots for a simpler, more efficient system, and follows extensive testing and development work, including close consultation with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority [CASA]."

The roll-out will start with the pilots for Boeing's 737 fleet, and extend later to all domestic and international Qantas pilots. The implementation is expected to take three to four weeks for each type of plane. While the pilots get used to the iPad and its apps, they will still take the usual paperwork on-board with them.

The relationship with Telstra for the provision of the devices includes connectivity on the ground via the Next G network, and via Telstra's global Wi-Fi partner network when pilots are overseas.

The roll-out of the apps for the flight deck is subject to regulatory approval by CASA.

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