Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 tablet is now the gadget of choice for Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines' pilots.
According to a post on Microsoft's official blog published Wednesday, pilots hired by both Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines will be equipped with the devices. Lufthansa has purchased more than 5,000 Surface Pro 3 tablets, which will be rolled out to pilots worldwide in February and March 2015.
Austrian Airlines has already deployed 650 of the tablets, with another 1,000 expected to be issued by the end of the year.
Delta Airlines previously adopted the tablet range for its pilots. In September last year, the airline provided 11,000 pilots with Microsoft Surface 2 tablets, joining over 19,000 flight attendants who were issued Windows Phone-based smartphones.
Microsoft says that as with Delta, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines' devices will use flight-based apps built for the Windows 8.1 platform. Flight crews will have access to tools including weather reports, dynamic charts and navigation utilities. The tablets also take the place of heavy flight bags, consolidating vast flight manuals — which can weigh up to 15kg — into a digital format.
Dr. Philipp Haller, B777 pilot at Austrian Airlines said:
Starting in the late 1990s with the arrival of the first laptops in the flight deck, the dream of a completely paperless cockpit is now actually becoming a reality thanks to the Surface tablets from Microsoft. We have been using laptops for 15 years to replace most of the paper on board but they could not be used during takeoff and landing.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is certified for Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) usage on commercial airlines by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). By replacing bulky manuals with tablets, airlines can expect to save a fortune each year in fuel costs.
Cyril Belikoff, Microsoft's senior director of the Microsoft Surface project, commented:
We have been clear on Microsoft's commitment to Surface in business and with this move adopting Surface in their cockpit, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines join the growing number of commercial airlines using Surface Pro 3 to help give their pilots the best, most efficient and productive in-flight experience.
In related news, Microsoft's Azure platform suffered an outage of nearly 11 hours this week. According to company officials, the storage service went asunder due to a performance update Microsoft conducted, of which a storage loop occurred as the update rolled out.