American Airlines this week became the first airline to receive approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use Apple iPads "during all phases of flight." The tablets will be used as an "Electronic Flight Bag" and will be replacing the thick stack of reference manuals that pilots carry in their carry-on kitbag. American estimates that removing the 35-pound kitbag manuals from each flight will save the company $1.2 million on fuel costs annually.
"This is a very exciting and important milestone for all of us at American Airlines as we work to modernize our processes and best meet the needs of our people," said John Hale, vice president of flight at American. "With this approval from the FAA, we will be able to use iPad to fully realize the benefits of our Electronic Flight Bag program, including improving the work environment for our pilots, reducing our dependency on paper products and increasing fuel efficiency on our planes. We are equipping our people with the best resources and this will allow our pilots to fly more efficiently."
American stated that pilots will use mobile software and data from Jeppesen, which has developed an app that is FAA-approved for use throughout all stages of a flight. The app will provide up-to-date electronic information in an interface that is easier to use than paper manuals.
"We're focused on building a new American where technology and innovation are fundamental to the company's return to industry leadership and exceptional customer service," said Maya Leibman, American CIO. "The Electronic Flight Bag program is just one more example of the progress we're making to provide the tools our employees need to deliver operational improvements and leading customer experience. In fact, our Flight Attendants have also been piloting an initiative on handheld tablets, which will give them better information about the customers on their flight and their travel needs. We'll have more to share on this and other industry-leading technologies in the weeks and months to come."
Now that American is working to allow its flight crew to use the latest gadgets during the entire flight, does that mean that passengers might get to enjoy the same luxury? American hasn't said, but it did announce earlier this year that it will be reevaluating its current stance on passengers using handheld electronics during flights.