American Airlines became the first major commercial airline to deploy iPad-based electronic flight bags in place of physical charts and manuals for its entire fleet this week, after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the transition in April. Each iPad will replace over 35 pounds of paper material which pilots make use of during flight. United Airlines also has plans to do so.
The switch to digital tablets won’t just make a pilot’s job easier, it will also have a “significant positive environmental and cost-savings impact,” explained David Campbell, American Airlines Vice President of Safety and Operations Performance. The 8,000 deployed iPads will reportedly help save 400,000 gallons of fuel per year at an estimated value of $12 million. American Airlines has tested the use of iPads on its Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft and has approval to use it on 777, 737 and MD-80 planes, too. It will give pilots in its regional American Eagle Airlines business the option to use an iPad starting on July 10.
Tablets and mobile phones may also be getting more use throughout entire airplanes in the near future. The FAA has reviewed its gadget policy for passengers and is expected to relax its ban on the use of devices at low altitudes in the near future.