Earlier this year it was announced that the FAA would begin approving the iPad for airline use in cockpits by pilots wishing to use the Apple tablet to navigate with maps - this week American Airlines is the first to be approved to make this situation a reality. This past June the Allied Pilots Association announced that American Airlines was the first to conduct tests of the iPad for all phases of flight as used by the pilots of their planes. The Federal Aviation Administration approved the testing of iPads on American Airlines airplanes with electronic charts this summer, and the final phases appear to have been completed in the weeks leading up to this one.
An interesting statistic on this whole situation comes from Seattle Pi who appears to have figured the basic cash-based math behind replacing paper charts and maps with the space and weight reducing iPad. If and when the iPad replaces the approximately 35 pounds of paper pilots currently have in place, this saving $1.2 million worth of fuel per year. The first iPad-flights are currently set to take off on Friday. Jason D O'Grady of ZDNet's source notes the following on the situation:
On Friday, American Airlines is the first airline in the world to be fully FAA approved to use iPads during all phases of flight. Pilots will use iPads as electronic chart and digital flight manual readers. The airline will begin iPad operations on B-777 aircraft, and then implement across all other fleets. By using electronic charts and manuals, the safety and efficiency on the flight deck is significantly enhanced. Both the iPad I and the iPad II have been approved for use. Other airlines such as United, Alaska, and UPS are also reviewing this potential, but none have been approved to conduct flight operations in all phases of flight except American. This FAA approval cumulates the results from a 6 month test period whereby American flew thousands of hours with iPads to test and evaluate the product.
Make you feel like you're more technologically advanced in the field of flight now that your pilot is Apple powered? We'll see if any pilots jailbreak their iPads in the first few weeks of the program starting out OR if everyone will play by the rules, Angry Birds notwithstanding. Don't be surprised if you hear the Baby Monkey theme song over the intercom when the "welcome to the flight" message comes through this weekend.