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Pilots replace paper manuals, charts and logs with iPad technology

August 24, 2011, 04:38 pm

Across the country, major airlines are switching from traditional paper flight manuals to Apple iPads loaded with digital manuals and other navigation technology. The iPad app, developed by Colorado flight navigation company Jeppesen, is for pilots of any aircraft and coordinates information from geo-referenced terminal charts across the globe. It has been downloaded over 130,000 times since its release in April 2010, according to the Guardian.

First approved for private, military and small commercial pilots, by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the app is now available on a test basis to large commercial pilots. United, Continental, Delta and American airlines are currently testing the technology, while Alaska airlines has fully integrated the digital alternative.

The iPad has a number of advantages over a paper manual, including updatability and size. With a paper manual, updates to terminal information are time consuming, and pilots have to wait for information to print and ship, whereas with an iPad, updates can be downloaded automatically. The iPad is also significantly smaller and more portable than paper manuals and charts, which weigh about 38 lbs., more than 25 times the weight of an iPad, the source notes.

The total fuel savings, if iPad manuals become the status quo, could be significant. As of March 2011, the Federal Aviation Administration had issued 195,650 private pilot's licenses, which allow pilots to fly for personal transportation or business. 

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