Commercial Airlines Look to Apple’s iPad For Paperless Cockpits

Following early approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for charter airlines to use iPad in airplane cockpits, major commercial airline companies like Delta are exploring the possibility of using Apple’s touchscreen tablet to ditch paper maps entirely. Delta could start using the Boeing app before summer, according to their spokesperson.

The FAA began granting approval for “electronic flight bags,” or computers for aviation use, in the last decade. But current options are bulky and heavy, with one model from Astronautics Corporation of America weighing 18 pounds. Apple’s new iPad 2 weighs just 1.3 pounds.

On Feb. 1, the FAA granted the first approval exclusively for professional cockpit use of the iPad to Executive Jet Management. The FAA decision only applies, for now, to Buffett’s company. But the report noted that “commercial carriers now have a template for winning permission for iPad use.” The Cincinnati-based company, owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s NetJets, made 250 flights as part of the certification process with maps and accessories created for the iPad by Boeing’s aeronautical and charting company Jeppesen. Officials with Jeppesen said they began developing iPad flight navigation software partially because pilots themselves requested it.

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