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Commercial airlines look to Apple's iPad for paperless cockpits

post #1 of 91
Thread Starter 
With the Federal Aviation Administration granting early approval for the use of the 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 Air Lines, the second-largest carrier in the world, is pursuing approval to test iPads and other tablet-style devices in its airline cockpits next quarter, a spokesman for the company told Bloomberg. The news comes just after the FAA endorsed the use of the iPad in a test project at Executive Jet Management.

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 aviation computer 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 for professional cockpit use of the iPad to Executive Jet Management. 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.

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."

While Delta plans to begin exploring the use of the iPad next quarter, other major carriers like Alaska Airlines remain largely paper driven for charts. But the Alaska Air Group operation, with 116 aircraft, said it is already testing the iPad for some functions.

Officials with Jeppesen said they began developing iPad flight navigation software partially because pilots themselves requested it. The company said it plans to release similar software for tablets running the Google Android mobile operating system.
post #2 of 91
So, first we get frisked and groped and now we have to ask if they're using old fashioned paper, Android or an iPad?

I' not getting on the plane if they're using an Android Craplet.
post #3 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

With the Federal Aviation Administration granting early approval for the use of the 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 Air Lines, the second-largest carrier in the world, is pursuing approval to test iPads and other tablet-style devices in its airline cockpits next quarter, a spokesman for the company told Bloomberg. The news comes just after the FAA endorsed the use of the iPad in a test project at Executive Jet Management.

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 aviation computer 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 for professional cockpit use of the iPad to Executive Jet Management. 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.

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."

While Delta plans to begin exploring the use of the iPad next quarter, other major carriers like Alaska Airlines remain largely paper driven for charts. But the Alaska Air Group operation, with 116 aircraft, said it is already testing the iPad for some functions.

Officials with Jeppesen said they began developing iPad flight navigation software partially because pilots themselves requested it. The company said it plans to release similar software for tablets running the Google Android mobile operating system.

This is exciting and very practical. Hospitals, doctors and nurses are doing similar things in their respective fields as well.

I sold iPAD for a large electronics chain ... and one day a charter owner wanted 25 iPADs to hand out to his passengers, so they could watch movies. The uses are unlimited. The new iPAD2 is awesome.

The android app community needs to make sure their apps are safe. A recent post noted 200000 android phones got root kits, and other sneaky coding that steals everything... they republished 21 apps after changing the code. I think that the way Apple scrutinizes the apps this wouldn't happen. It is scary since the users are trusting ...
post #4 of 91
Maps and such should be built in to the airplane cockpit displays, not on an iPad. And emergency procedures should be on paper (even if they are on iPad also) in case the battery is flat.
post #5 of 91
There's already some nice apps out there for charts - I use SkyCharts Pro myself and have been very happy with it.

I'm sure the FAA will have a lot of say in what can and can't be done here. As an earlier poster mentions, emergency checklists will always need to be on paper, but there are a lot of things that could easily go onto a device like an iPad.
post #6 of 91
Don't these airlines know that XOOM is Everything a Tablet Should Be?
post #7 of 91
I wonder if the GPS in an iPad will keep up with the flight speeds of a commercial jet? I tried using a car unit onboard a few flights but it couldn't handle the speed shortly after take off
post #8 of 91
Maps might be a use, but I suspect that they will keep paper maps in tow for quite a while. However, procedure manuals, checklists, load and fuel reports would be ideal for iPad. Not only would it be more practical than paper, much of the logic and calculations that go into flight prep would be handled by the iPad, which would be much more accurate than manual calculations, and it would leave a nice audit trail.

The aircraft already have extensive mapping and location capabilities; the iPad would only enhance route planning by the pilots, not replace it (at least, for quite some time).
post #9 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Maps and such should be built in to the airplane cockpit displays, not on an iPad. And emergency procedures should be on paper (even if they are on iPad also) in case the battery is flat.

Maps are built in, but the cockpit displays are for flying the airplane now and you don't want to change that. Pilots must carry paper maps for everywhere else they fly and plan ahead using those maps today. This is a good idea (each pilot would carry one).
post #10 of 91
Not bad for a toy...
post #11 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Maps and such should be built in to the airplane cockpit displays, not on an iPad. And emergency procedures should be on paper (even if they are on iPad also) in case the battery is flat.

The FAA approved the use of the iPad under the condition that that another backup to be used. That backup could be another iPad, paper based, or another electronic device.
post #12 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by madhatter61 View Post

The android app community needs to make sure their apps are safe. A recent post noted 200000 android phones got root kits, and other sneaky coding that steals everything... they republished 21 apps after changing the code. I think that the way Apple scrutinizes the apps this wouldn't happen. It is scary since the users are trusting ...

Now that we're seeing trojans on Macs, maybe Apple will start scrutinizing the software allowed for the Mac. We can only hope so. I'm not so trusting of these third-party developers - unless they pass Apple's scrutiny, I say forget it!
post #13 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elian Gonzalez View Post

Don't these airlines know that XOOM is Everything a Tablet Should Be?

My thoughts exactly. DaHarder must be apoplectic over this news.
post #14 of 91
I am an airline pilot for a large major US airline. Let me explain what these are really going to be used for...

Electronic Flight Bags primarily replace paper charts and paper manuals first and foremost. Currently the vast majority of airlines use paper charts in huge binders that total thousands and thousands of pages. Each pilot has a set and the weight and cost of the service is very high. Every 2 weeks hundreds of those thousands of charts are updated and so a tedious and costly by hand change out of charts has to occur. The same is true for flight and maintenance manuals, also totaling thousands of pages with frequent updates. A few airlines have started to use or experiment with "EFB's" or electronic flight bags. These have been very, very expensive Windows tablet based, pen based solutions that are mounted where a pilot would typically clip the paper charts he/she would be using at the moment. The custom Windows tablets are really a small fortune (although in theory will be cheaper over the long run with cheaper electronic updates of the charts vs. paper printing and hand changeout of charts) and the pen inputs have not been a hit with pilots. Failure of these units is NOT a major concern because there are always 2 of the units available to the crew and even in the event of a dual failure, however unlikely, there are numerous other ways to get navigational or manual data out of other onboard computer systems like the Flight Management computers or even Air Traffic Control themselves.

My airline uses paper charts / manuals but does use a Windows tablet based computer to run performance data for takeoff/landing and a few other situations. In the event that computer fails we can do the same thing by hand or having our dispatchers remotely calculate the data for us. The tablet we use is likely 8-10 pounds in a heavy duty case and fits into a huge charging cradle. Annoying.

The iPad is HUGELY interesting to airlines at this point. First and foremost is cost. The idea of getting the low end $500 iPad (and likely cheaper at bulk cost) vs. $3000+ per unit is huge in the land of $100+ per barrel of oil costs. Second the hand touch interface is far easier than the pen based input on Windows tablets. Third the smaller size is just in another universe compared to existing EFB solutions. As more and more aircraft in our fleet and that of other airlines get Wi-Fi it could add to the functionality of the unit to perhaps even show radar data etc. (for example did you know most planes can of course see the radar picture ahead 100-200 miles using our own radar but have no access to NATIONAL radar pictures like you see on TV? We have to piece together a mental picture from text based and verbal descriptions but a Wi-Fi connected iPad could of course provide such real time data to us so we can make wise course changes 1000's of miles away from weather rather than 100's.)

These devices are not, and will never be used for primary navigation of the plane etc. which is all done via very sophisticated inertial reference systems combined with triple redundant GPS that is far beyond anything in any consumer device and which alone costs more than a typical house.
post #15 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by calfoto View Post

I wonder if the GPS in an iPad will keep up with the flight speeds of a commercial jet? I tried using a car unit onboard a few flights but it couldn't handle the speed shortly after take off

Seems like a better thing would be for the iPad to tap into the airplane's flight computer via wi-fi for realtime tracking.
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post #16 of 91
To be 100% honest, I had no idea that airlines still used paper maps. I assumed they had gone digital eons ago.
post #17 of 91
Watch out for Angry Birds!!!
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post #18 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Futuristic View Post

Seems like a better thing would be for the iPad to tap into the airplane's flight computer via wi-fi for realtime tracking.

Well the main aircraft computers are never going to do Wi-Fi anything. You could create a custom wired connection to the computers but the cost of development and installation of such systems would be millions and millions and millions of dollars and defeats the point of these units (low cost but effective tools.)

The real answer is many airlines are adding ground antenna or satellite based internet which then broadcasts Wi-Fi in the plane for passenger use. These cockpit devices will tap into the same to provide additional information to pilots we don't have today, like real time national weather radar and more and of course you can plot the plane position from tracking data that is provided to any typical "flight tracker" like website. It doesn't need to be perfect as you are talking about "big picture" data and none of this is going to be used for primary navigation or even primary weather decision making etc. it is just another tool in the quiver. In the event the Wi-Fi stops working no major crisis as that wasn't primary anyway and well we don't even have it today and everything works just fine!
post #19 of 91
My brother is a pilot... I'll ask him if they are considering iPads. He's a PC guy, but I've almost convinced him to switch!
I was at an education conference last week and the iPad was THE big deal.
Viva la revolution!
post #20 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by calfoto View Post

I wonder if the GPS in an iPad will keep up with the flight speeds of a commercial jet? I tried using a car unit onboard a few flights but it couldn't handle the speed shortly after take off

My Garmin 255 worked OK until I pressed GO. It then started recalculating everytime it crossed a road The top speed was about 850 km/h. IIRC my first GPS was rated for 900 mph.
post #21 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by madhatter61 View Post

This is exciting and very practical. Hospitals, doctors and nurses are doing similar things in their respective fields as well.

I sold iPAD for a large electronics chain ... and one day a charter owner wanted 25 iPADs to hand out to his passengers, so they could watch movies. The uses are unlimited. The new iPAD2 is awesome.

The android app community needs to make sure their apps are safe. A recent post noted 200000 android phones got root kits, and other sneaky coding that steals everything... they republished 21 apps after changing the code. I think that the way Apple scrutinizes the apps this wouldn't happen. It is scary since the users are trusting ...

Please, it's not an acronym. The product is called iPad, not iPAD. Sorry for being so anal.
post #22 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronJ View Post

To be 100% honest, I had no idea that airlines still used paper maps. I assumed they had gone digital eons ago.

The airplanes all have the map data built into their computer databases of course but we use the maps for a lot of additional detail as pilots. If I tell the plane "Go direct to Chicago O'Hare" it of course knows where that is because it has it in the database etc. but the paper maps provide it in a useable way that the primary displays can't. These charts will likely be replicated in as straight forward a way as a .pdf file on an iPad for us.

Image of a 737 navigational display (the display on the right with all the circles) http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruthann/4183901907/

Image of an enroute paper chart
http://www.altairva-fs.com/training/...oute_chart.htm

Image of an approach chart
http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/2006/AA...s/image004.jpg
post #23 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elian Gonzalez View Post

Don't these airlines know that XOOM is Everything a Tablet Should Be?

Not according to Ars review of it
post #24 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronJ View Post

To be 100% honest, I had no idea that airlines still used paper maps. I assumed they had gone digital eons ago.

You have to have backups. Otherwise, if cockpit system loses power, you are screwed.
post #25 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Balmer's Right Nut View Post

I' not getting on the plane if they're using an Android Craplet.

That's not surprising since fanboys aren't exactly known for being smart, or even mildly intelligent.

You go ahead and stay a while longer at that airport while someone else takes your seat, laughing all the way to where you needed to go.
post #26 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post

Please, it's not an acronym. The product is called iPad, not iPAD. Sorry for being so anal.

I've actually been bitched at on youtube for constantly calling it an Ipad rofl
post #27 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Maps and such should be built in to the airplane cockpit displays, not on an iPad. And emergency procedures should be on paper (even if they are on iPad also) in case the battery is flat.

As another poster commented, maps *are* built in to panel displays, but their resolution, distance from the pilot, and small size of the screen is insufficient for general purpose use.

Because the e-maps require a backup in the form of paper or other electronic maps, there's very little chance of an aviator being stuck without maps due to battery failure. Jeppeson has been doing maps with PC-based systems for over a decade, doing it on iPad immediately means longer battery life. More importantly, because there is a much more manageable form factor than a PC on a pilot's lap, safety is increased.

Keeping maps up-to-date is a real chore. Pilots are allowed to use maps that are one revision out-of-date. By making them electronic and in a form that they are more usable is a situation that everyone wins from.
post #28 of 91
I would like to see an iPad on the back of each seat

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post #29 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by canyonblue737 View Post

Currently the vast majority of airlines use paper charts in huge binders that total thousands and thousands of pages. .

If the iPad becomes popular with airlines, expect a new model with lots and lots o' flash memory!

Hooah!
post #30 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by orangesauce View Post

More importantly, because there is a much more manageable form factor than a PC on a pilot's lap, safety is increased.

Pilots of commercial airlines need to balance a Windows PC on their lap? How do they use the foot pedals? The FAA should put a stop to those windows PC's immediately. The iPad would be safer, and if it falls down to the pilot's feet, it would not get in the way because it has no hinged screen.
post #31 of 91
Another step in being closer to a star trek device...

"Captain, here's the cargo manifest..."
post #32 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by techno View Post

I would like to see an iPad on the back of each seat

Id just like to see a better display. I have chosen to watch my iPhone 3G over the seat back displays because of how poor they are in every single way. Hopefully the push for capacitance touch displays will allow them to become standard on planes in the coming years.
post #33 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjwal View Post

My Garmin 255 worked OK until I pressed GO. It then started recalculating everytime it crossed a road The top speed was about 850 km/h. IIRC my first GPS was rated for 900 mph.

I had a very old Garmin handheld that was not designed for anything but knowing where you were at in relation to waypoints that you had programmed. It worked in cars, but not in planes.

Anytime that happens, it's a software limitation, not a hardware one. Speed is the distance/time, and if the GPS is only sampling once every ten seconds because it is slow, the distance between two points is just going to be greater. But even cheap GPSs sample more than that.

Eventually, I forced Garmin to replace the unit with updated software because it wasn't labelled as "not for airplanes". It was not certified as a means of primary navigation by the FAA, but it was a great backup, and the FTC doesn't like to hear about things like this.
post #34 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by canyonblue737 View Post

Electronic Flight Bags primarily replace paper charts and paper manuals first and foremost. Currently the vast majority of airlines use paper charts in huge binders that total thousands and thousands of pages. Each pilot has a set and the weight and cost of the service is very high. Every 2 weeks hundreds of those thousands of charts are updated and so a tedious and costly by hand change out of charts has to occur.


Been quite awhile, but oh how I remember the glamour days of watching the corporate pilots come in to the FBO on Saturday and spend a day in their office to update their Jepp manuals. I guess it is a price one has to pay to have a better layout of the information or whatever it is that has a hold on the corporate and commercial piloting world versus the US Government's NOAA published instrument approach plate booklets that have an expiration date, along with SID's & STAR's that you just toss for a fresh, current one when they reach the expiration date... Although Jepp has better airport diagrams versus the stodgy green AF/D'w the government publishes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by canyonblue737 View Post

These devices are not, and will never be used for primary navigation of the plane etc. which is all done via very sophisticated inertial reference systems combined with triple redundant GPS that is far beyond anything in any consumer device and which alone costs more than a typical house.

Free Flight, Baby! Just wonder which will happen first... Free flight or the completion of a parallel runway at my hometown airport ORF, or my funeral?! If I was a betting person, sadly, I'd choose the latter...
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post #35 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by canyonblue737 View Post

The airplanes all have the map data built into their computer databases of course but we use the maps for a lot of additional detail as pilots. If I tell the plane "Go direct to Chicago O'Hare" it of course knows where that is because it has it in the database etc. but the paper maps provide it in a useable way that the primary displays can't. These charts will likely be replicated in as straight forward a way as a .pdf file on an iPad for us.

Image of a 737 navigational display (the display on the right with all the circles) http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruthann/4183901907/

Image of an enroute paper chart
http://www.altairva-fs.com/training/...oute_chart.htm

Image of an approach chart
http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/2006/AA...s/image004.jpg

Fascinating. Thank you.

The extent of my experience is playing Falcon 3.0 on a PC years ago.
post #36 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elian Gonzalez View Post

Don't these airlines know that XOOM is Everything a Tablet Should Be?

You mean the XOOM is for NASA space shuttles!

First, the name spelling and pronunciation is out of this world...

More importantly however...

Like the Space Shuttle, the XOOM appears to be antiquated 30 year old machinery destined for a museum... and the iPad 2 will help the XOOM reach that museum even sooner than the stoic career of the beloved space shuttle!

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post #37 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by chronster View Post

I've actually been bitched at on youtube for constantly calling it an Ipad rofl

Perhaps because it is iPad, not Ipad?
post #38 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by canyonblue737 View Post

I am an airline pilot for a large major US airline. Let me explain what these are really going to be used for...

Very nice post, thank you for taking the time to write that up!
post #39 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by calfoto View Post

I wonder if the GPS in an iPad will keep up with the flight speeds of a commercial jet? I tried using a car unit onboard a few flights but it couldn't handle the speed shortly after take off

I don't think that would be an issue considering that they are using paper charts now.
post #40 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by canyonblue737 View Post

I am an airline pilot for a large major US airline. Let me explain what these are really going to be used for...

Electronic Flight Bags primarily replace paper charts and paper manuals first and foremost. Currently the vast majority of airlines use paper charts in huge binders that total thousands and thousands of pages. Each pilot has a set and the weight and cost of the service is very high. Every 2 weeks hundreds of those thousands of charts are updated and so a tedious and costly by hand change out of charts has to occur. The same is true for flight and maintenance manuals, also totaling thousands of pages with frequent updates.

...

This hits a nerve...

Different time, different indusrty -- same problem:

In 1964-1980, I worked for IBM. Many of these years were spent as a Systems Engineer (Technical Market Support Representative) for mainframe computers. In a branch office, there could be 10s-100s of salesmen, 10s-100s of system engineers and 10s-100s of customer engineers (repairmen). There were thousands of branch offices.

Each salesman and system engineer always carried a sales manual containing detailed descriptions. prices, availability for every product we sold -- hundreds of [very thin paper] pages of very small print.

These sales manuals were updated continuously -- requiring several hours each week to remove and replace the pages.

In addition. each system engineer had a set of technical manuals describing the computer systems he, specifically, supported: computer model; peripherals; operating systems (there were several choices); applications; programming languages (there were several), etc. A reference set of these manuals was, typically, a 4-6 foot high stack of 8 1/2 x 11 binders. Guess what, each of these manuls were. also, updated continuously -- another few hours per week updating manuals.

Most IBM salesmen and system engineers carried their sales manual, brochures and whatever technical manuals would be used (that day) in an attache case -- roughly equivalent of your flight bag.

IBM Customer Engineers (repairmen) had an equivalent collection of repair manuals with repair/maintenance procedures, wiring diagrams, pictorial repair diagrams, etc.

At that time, IBM had over 400,000 employees -- I suspect at least 1-200,000 were salesmen, system engineers or customer engineers.

So, hundreds of thousands of employees, spending 5-10 hours each, every week -- pushing paper to keep their manuals updated.


That whole problem and waste of time could be eliminated by giving each of those an iPad and electronic updates -- much the way app updates are delivered to the iPad, today!


They would be more productive, more efficient and more effective!


I don't know how IBM branch offices operate, today.

But any company that has a large field organization: salesmen calling on customers; repairmen going on site; support people training customers or fixing software problems...

These companies have a need similar to the airplane pilots, flight engineers, maintenance and repairmen.

They must have a set of constantly updated information at their fingertips, with them during their working hours.


I wonder how many thousands of companies and millions of employees have similar needs.
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