Delta on Monday confirmed it’ll deploy Microsoft’s new Surface 2 to 11,000 pilots by the end of next year. The decision means Delta’s fleet of pilots will ditch Apple’s iPad, which was accepted as flight a manual replacement in a sort of bring your own device initiative. The new plan complements Delta’s other taste of Microsoft’s ecosystem, equipping 19,000 Delta flight attendants with Windows Phone handsets.
Each Surface 2 deployed will include carts, reference documents and checklists, and apparently save the airline about $13 million per year in fuel and other costs. The device is initially planned to roll out to the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767, but will roll out to other cockpits by the end of next year. With Windows 8.1 running onboard, Microsoft’s new device will take advantage of an app called FliteDeck Pro, which was built specifically for the platform; the app itself promises to give pilots access to real-time information and resources, such as charts and navigation utilities.
“Delivering digital flight information through FliteDeck Pro on the Surface tablet platform will increase situational awareness and improve operational efficiency for Air Lines,” said Tim Huegel, director, Jeppesen Aviation Portfolio Management.
The flexibility and multi-tasking abilities of Microsoft’s Windows platform apparently won Delta over, while the spec improvements also made the Redmond company’s new device an enticing choice. Contingent on an FAA ruling, Delta pilots hope to be able to use their new Surface 2’s during all phases of flight early next year.
Microsoft first Surface RT wasn’t exactly a blockbuster hit, so securing early adoption is definitely a plus. However, 11,000 units isn’t exactly a lot, though the partnership could potentially set a precedent for wider adoption in other markets. Will partnerships like this push the Surface brand into successful territory? Only time will tell. But it’s definitely a good start.