American Airlines first commercial carrier with FAA approval to use Apple iPads in all phases of flight

Furthering its efforts to advance airspace modernization, American Airlines today announced it is expanding its iPad Electronic Flight Bag program after becoming the first commercial carrier to receive FAA approval to use the Apple iPad in the cockpit during all phases of flight.

American’s pilots will be using iPad, the only FAA-approved tablet as an Electronic Flight Bag in approved aircraft. An Electronic Flight Bag reduces or replaces paper-based reference material and manuals often found in a pilot’s carry-on kitbag. Removing the 35-pound kitbag from each American Airlines plane will save an estimated $1.2 million of fuel annually based on current fuel prices.

“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 Captain John Hale, American’s Vice President – Flight, in the press release. “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.”

“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’s Chief Information Officer, in the press release. “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.”

As part of the Electronic Flight Bag program, American’s pilots will use mobile software and data from Jeppesen, a unit of Boeing Flight Services. The FAA-approved Jeppesen application, which is allowed for gate-to-gate use throughout all phases of flight, will replace bulky paper operating manuals with real-time, up-to-date electronic information that is easier to access. “Jeppesen mobile solutions will deliver our industry-leading flight information through the thousands of iPads that will be integrated by American Airlines in its operations,” said Thomas Wede, Jeppesen Senior Vice President and General Manager, Aviation. “We fully support American in this process and our mobile data software solution will work to increase operational efficiency, enhance situational awareness and reduce airline costs.”

American’s pilots will start using iPads this month on the airline’s 777 fleet. American aims to have FAA approval for use in all fleet types by the end of 2012. Beginning in January 2013, American will stop distributing paper revisions to its flight manuals and most navigation charts.

To ease the transition company-wide, all active pilots and instructors will receive an iPad for use in training and inflight.

American first received FAA approval to use iPads in the cockpit in 2011, which came several months after American completed testing with pilots using iPads in the cockpit. The first FAA-approved device to be tested is the iPad, and if other tablets are approved by the FAA they will be evaluated for use.

Source: American Airlines

16 Comments

    1. Doubtful. Turning off electronic devices is the biggest crock of shit. Think of all the folks that leave their devices on anyway. Have many air incidents have been caused by devices? Exactly zero I suspect.

      1. As an engineer that makes a living testing avionics systems for EMI and EMC interactions, I can understand the FAA’s cautious approach to allowing more and more electronic devices to be used during all flight phases.

        Neither FAA (nor the military for that matter) will just take it on faith that electronic devices will cannot or will not cause interactions that degrade cockpit comm and nav systems. Not to mention human factors issues like reflections of an iPad screen off cockpit windows at night. There are too many lives potentially at stake. Either test the devices against the aircraft systems (research “source/victim testing” if interested) and prove interactions don’t occur or don’t cause degradation, or don’t fly with them.

        American can use the iPad in 777s now because that configuration of device/aircraft has been tested. The rest of the American aircraft configs are likely being test now for certification by year end, epecially during takeoff and landing when comm and nav system function are most critical.

        Also realize the FAAs position when you expand the number of devices to *all* consumer electronics. And the number of aircraft. Whose burden will it be to test the devices…the FAA? the device manufacturer? And how to you enforce allowing tested devices to be operated and all others shut off?

        The problem isn’t nearly as simple as the traveling public realizes.

        1. +100

          kwj, you are spot on and you do realize that most of the people commenting on this site are just blowing shite out their arss.

          I would add to your comment:
          “You might be willing to risk your own life on it but what about your children’s, parents, friends and neighbors lives?”
          How about:
          How much would you pay for risk insurance and would you be willing to sign a release that you, or any family members, could not sue the airline in the event of a crash?

          Seems like turning them off at take-off and landing is a small price to pay for some additional safety to me but what do I know, I’m not invincible like the other people commenting.

          1. @Observer,

            I credit you sir for being willing to see both sides of the issue. The safety and caution aspect is lost on many travelers, who value convenience and comfort above all else. The subject is something I’m personnally passionate about because my job is ensuring aircraft equipment is first and foremost safe for the aircrew and passengers.

            And believe me, I’ve seen plenty interactions occur during testing that noone ever predicted. I’m convinced RF energy is part voodoo, and that’s with an understanding of the physics involved. Anyone who says they can predict interactions, or conclusively determine there won’t be any without testing first, is as you say, “blowing shite out their arss”.

            And how long an inconvenience is the FAA currently requiring passengers endure? Maybe 10 minutes at takeoff, and a few more while in the landing sequence. That’s not much to ask for increased air travel safety. Not by a long shot.

    2. The FAA is reviewing this outdated idiocy. They will be replacing it with new idiocy. But then again, the Department of Homeland Insecurity will be up to the same old idiocy but modifying it to make it more difficult to bring your ‘potentially flight disrupting’ iPad onboard because you might carry a bomb in it or swap it with the pilot’s iPad who will play Angry Birds or follow the fake maps you installed.

  1. And here is a old story:

    “Aircraft manufacturer Airbus is now using iPads in its “electronic flight bags.”
    The company is creating custom apps, delivered through the App Store, to help pilots look at operations manuals and figure out airplane performance while in the air. The iPad, according to Airbus, is going to be a standard operating tool going forward.”

    http://www.ipadnews.nl/2012/07/10/airbus-creates-electronic-flight-bag-apps-for-pilots-with-ipads/

    1. Man that’d be great to get instant feedback from a plane on all it’s working systems. Any deviation could notify the pilot of something amiss instantly. Siri could tell dumbass co-pilots to stop pulling back on the stick and WHY (ala the relatively recent Air France Airbus stall and crash into the ocean killing hundreds for no good reason other than lack of pilot training.) On the cockpit tapes the copilot never knew why the plane crashed and was asking why until the moment of impact. If he had known he would have been horrified to learn he was doing the exact wrong thing. He killed himself and countless others due to ignorance.

  2. Apple will be the first company to make iDevices with the capability of using it on an aircraft all the time. Another step for Apple.

    But i wouldn’t use it thought, i hate flying.

    But i guess for many others would be great

    *troll mode off*

  3. Pilot: Autopilot on, time for some Angry birds.
    Co-Pilot: Time to catch up on that episode I missed last night.
    Pilot: Make sure the door is locked, we wouldn’t want anyone to see we are not actually flying the plane.
    Co-Pilot: Good call.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.