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Ipads replacing pilots' paper manuals

sunveer

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What is in those bulky, black flight bags that pilots carry into the cockpit? It is not a change of clothes but reams of reference material needed for the flight - about 40 pounds of it. There are the aircraft's operating manual, safety checklists, logbooks for entering airplane performance data, navigation charts, weather information, airport diagrams and maybe a book of KenKen puzzles thrown in for good measure.

But instead of carrying all that paperwork, a growing number of pilots are carrying a 1.5 pound iPad.

The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized a handful of commercial and charter carriers to use the tablet computer as a so-called electronic flight bag. Private pilots, too, are now carrying iPads, which support hundreds of general aviation apps that simplify preflight planning and assist with in-flight operations.

"The iPad allows pilots to quickly and nimbly access information," said Jim Freeman, a pilot and director of flight standards at Alaska Airlines, which has given iPads to all its pilots. "When you need to a make a decision in the cockpit, three to four minutes fumbling with paper is an eternity."

Alaska Airlines received FAA approval in May to permit its pilots to consult digital flight, systems and performance manuals on the iPad - cutting about 25 pounds of paper from each flight bag. The e-manuals include hyperlinks and color graphics to help pilots find information quickly and easily. And pilots do not have to go through the tedium of updating the manuals by swapping out old pages with new ones because updates are downloaded automatically.

In the next phase of what Alaska Airlines calls Operation Bye, Bye, Flight Bag, the carrier plans to petition the FAA to use the iPad to read aeronautical charts, saving another five pounds of paper per pilot. Counting both the pilot and co-pilot, that would remove 60 pounds of paper from the cockpit - a significant savings not only in paper and printing costs but also in fuel because planes are that much lighter.

Because Apple's tablet computer weighs less and is more compact than a laptop and its touch screen easier to manipulate, its introduction in 2010 made the move away from paper in the cockpit easier.

Switching to the iPad is also expected to reduce health care costs and absenteeism from shoulder and back injuries associated with hoisting heavy flight bags, said David Clark, pilot and manager of the connected aircraft program at American Airlines. "Cockpits are small, and lifting that thing up and over your seat causes damage, particularly when you consider a lot of pilots are over 40."

Source: economictimes.com
 
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