Nearly a month after making a proposal to replace its inflight manuals with 18,000 iPad 2s, the U.S. Air Force has awarded a $9.36 million contract to Phoenix-based vendor Executive Technology to make the purchase. Apple’s tablet supposedly beat out competition from the PlayBook, Xoom, Galaxy Tab and Nook Tablet.
Bloomberg reports the Air Force will opt for the 32GB, Wi-Fi model at a subsidized price of $529 compared to the normal rate of $599. Someone ought to warn the USAF that Apple is planning an event for its next iPad next week. Actually, Executive Technology has acknowledged a refresh is looming, but noted it has a year to make purchases with the funding – so far 63 iPad 2s have been purchased.
The devices will act as electronic flight bags for paper manual and chart replacement, which can sometimes weight up to 40 pounds. In comparison, an iPad weighs in at a fraction. Apple’s iPad was previously adopted by both Delta and Alaska Airlines as part of a trial program in 2011. The USAF has plans to implement the devices largely the same way.
“Aircrews fly nonstop worldwide missions and require access to flight publications both on and off the aircraft, throughout all phases of flight,” Captain Kathleen Ferrero told Bloomberg in an email. In the USAF’s eyes, the iPad 2 was the perfect device for the job.