FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

Summary: The FAA has granted the approval for Pilots to use iPads in all phases of flight. The first iPad-flights take off on Friday.

SHARE:
TOPICS: iPad, Mobility
55

FAA allows pilots to use iPads in all phases of flight; AA to start Friday

In June the Allied Pilots Association noted that American Airlines (AA) conducted the first tests of iPads for all phases of flight. AA pilots received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to test iPads with electronic charts this summer and asked to take it to the next logical level: replacing most of their paper books and charts with digital documents on the iPad.

Seattle Pi notes that a 1.5 pound iPad replaces about 35 pounds of paper saving an estimated $1.2 million worth of fuel per year.

A source tells me that the FAA has granted the approval and that AA will be the first airline in the world to be fully approved to use iPads in all phases of flight. The first iPad-flights are set to take off on Friday.

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 6 month test period whereby American flew thousands of hours with iPads to test and evaluate the product.

Topics: iPad, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

55 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

    if the ipad freezes what then
    happens with mine no problem but if it replaces information what they normally have on paper it is not increasing but decreasing safety!!!
    i think they better spend money on the oldest air traffic control system in the world here in the USA
    hompie1956
    • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

      @hompie1956 It is not a fault of iPad but a risk for all electronic equipment. IN face I find iPad is more reliable then most. Solution: bring 2 or 3 iPads.
      bonelyfish_1
      • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

        @bonelyfish_1@... 2 or 3 ipads or maybe they could just stay on paper? I agree that freezing up and other random actions are the purview of all electronic devices however I have never seen a paper chart fail to update once thus far?
        Magicman73
    • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

      @hompie1956 Yeah, right, don't modernize the cockpit with iPads, because the air traffic control systems in the U.S. are aging. AA shouldn't use iPads, instead they should pay for the governmental air traffic control system. AA shouldn't use iPads in the cockpit which can drastically increase safety and efficiency, because hompie is a PC fanboy and don'ts likes it, dag-nab-it. Lets just say that I'm glad AA doesn't use hompie in their corporate decision-making.
      • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

        @dallasdeckard@... Wow. Talk about your strawman argument.
        "AA shouldn't use iPads, instead they should pay for the governmental air traffic control system." This has nothing to do with replacing air traffic controllers and everything to do with replacing their paper charts.
        "AA shouldn't use iPads in the cockpit which can drastically increase safety and efficiency, because hompie is a PC fanboy and don'ts likes it, dag-nab-it." Got any facts to back up that audacious "increases safety and efficiency" argument? Unlikely since this test just started.

        Perhaps you should brush up on your reading comprehension and argumentative skills before you speak in public again?
        Magicman73
      • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

        @dallasdeckard@... Paper fails every time the lights go out. Lights go out in a power failure, & I've watched enough Air Crash Investigations to know that happens all too often.
        mattmuir
      • mattmuir: Ever hear of emergency lights, and of flashlights?

        I'm pretty sure that, pilots and the airlines have heard of them, and I'm pretty sure that the airline manufacturers have thought of the need for emergency power for lights and other emergency type needs.
        adornoe
    • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

      @hompie1956 I've used several different iPads/iPhones/etc. Don't see them freeze very often. Big deal is that you can find the proper document in several seconds versus searching through a mountain of paper. I'm all for smart ways to reduce cost and if there's really a safety issue, then they should carry several iPads on the flight [and it's still better than paper]. iPad has succeeded where previous generations of tablets failed [I suspect it's largely due to software availability of apps, as well as a relatively simple UI]. iPad users may just as easily have a PC as a Mac [so they're not completely Apple-centric]. Even my in-laws use iPads [and they had traditionally been unlikely technology users, other than maybe music players]! Other [less expensive] tablets may succeed yet, but they will likely follow the app model trailblazed by the iPad. Some kind of Kindle might show up next, as airlines look at how to reduce the cost of iPads!
      lorddarthpaul
    • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

      @hompie1956 More than freezing, I am more concerned the the "security" of the devices as it applies to the Information Assurance and vulnerabilities. iPads just became a much larger target for hackers today, especially those that would seek alternate means to do harmful things to an airplane. This will require an increased vigilence for security.
      BGALUMNI
  • Does this mean....

    ...that those of us who ride in the back of the bus can use them in all phases of the flight also?
    Userama
    • Nice idea

      @Userama
      I wouldn't count on it.
      use_what_works_4_U
    • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

      @Userama

      The answer is: The airlines and the FAA do not have evidence-based authority to do so. There is no case ever of an ordinary passenger operated electronic device ever causing interference with the operation of an aircraft. Which means their regulation is based on fraud.

      And since I've never heard airlines demanding you put away all your non-electronic paraphenalia (like books, clipboards, etc.) during take off and landing, the excuse of preventing laptops, cell phones, and handhelds from flying around the cabin doesn't hold water either.
      Dr_Zinj
    • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

      @Userama

      Didn't they just boot Alec Baldwin for using an electronic device BEFORE takeoff?
      James-SantaBarbara
      • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

        @J Hartsock
        Thats right, they did! I think AA now DOES own Mr Baldwin a Public appology now.
        Jaytmoon
    • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

      @Userama Now THAT'S a great question!
      ronsonntag
  • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

    Old news. This isn't the first time. Charter operators have gotten this approved in the past as an EFB with little issue. This might be the first major airline, but not the first FAA approval of such a use for a commercial tablet/computer. Although, I was under the impression that United was already deploying. The news reports I'm reading say that Alaska and American both just got approval. But, I also see articles about United and Continental starting deployment back in August based on earlier approval.<br><br>For a Class 1 EFB all you pretty much need to prove is that it doesn't blow up or burn out at rapid decompression and that it doesn't interfere with other on-board instruments. Since they're not considered part of the airframe (i.e. not permanently installed) they fall under some pretty light rules.<br><br>Then again, on some further reading, pretty much all the chart/checklist apps crashed and burned with the iOS5 update so that's not nice.<br><br>That said, I still don't think they're allowing own-ship position to be shown on the charts. The GPS in the iPad isn't up to snuff at altitude to be able to see the satellites. Reports are that inside the fuselage it is blocked by enough metal that the signal is flaky and that, despite that, even at altitude the angles are making it difficult to get a good resolution. Not surprising.<br><br>To be fair, this is not a knock against Apple ... it is simply a fact of COTS equipment trying to do something it wasn't meant to do. It'll be fine as a chart reader and checklist reader but not as a navigation device without a way to port in an external GPS signal. Taking that next step up to Class 2 requires a rather different path.
    Ididar
    • Fear not...

      @Ididar No commercial aviator would use a consumer GPS for navigation. But, if all else failed, that is if the installed FAA approved navigation devices failed, commercial pilots have other means to determine position.
      godsfault
    • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

      @Ididar And, to address earlier comments about app freezes - just how long does it take to power off/on an iPad? Given that this is not an in-flight control mechanism, and is just a reference, the power on/off cycle time is more than adequate to address any occasional application malfunctions.
      ronsonntag
  • Let's hope the pilot isn't into p0rn

    Could bring new meaning to the concept of 'crash-n-burn'.
    klumper
  • RE: FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday

    Alec Baldwin will be pleased to know that now he will need to shut his Word with Friends down so the pilots can use THEIR iPads to properly land the aircraft.
    jkline1