American Airlines removed the bulky paper manuals and flight plans from the cockpit of their commercial aircraft back in 2013 and handed out iPads after the FAA had approved iPads for use in the cockpit in 2011. The airline has run into its first major issue with using the iPads on the flight deck this week.
American Airlines says that several dozen flights were affected by an iPad outage this week after the tablets crashed. At least one of the flights was getting ready for takeoff when the iPad crashed for both the pilot and the co-pilot. The crashed tablet and no paper backups meant that the flight crew was left without a flight plan.
According to Quartz, flight #1654 and passengers report that the pilot came on the PA system telling the passengers that his iPad and the first mates had powered off suddenly to a blank screen and that the entire American fleet of 737s had been affected by the outage. The outage left the flight stuck on the tarmac.
American Airlines confirmed the outage via twitter where it wrote in response to a question about iPads crashing across the fleet, “Some flights are experiencing an issue with a software application on pilot iPads. We’ll have info about your departure soon.” There is no word as of now on exactly what caused the crash.
UPDATE: American Airlines has released a statement, suggesting that it was not the iPad nor Apple’s software that was to blame, but a 3rd-party app. American Airlines uses software and data provided by Jeppesen, part of Boeing Digital Aviation.
“Some flights are experiencing an issue with a software application on pilot iPads. In some cases, the flight has had to return to the gate to access a WiFi connection to fix the issue. We apologize for the inconvenience to our customers [and] we are working to have them on the way to their destination as soon as possible.”