Proving that the iPad isn't just for email and Angry Birds, Alaska Airlines has announced it will issue an iPad to all its pilots to be used as a flight manual and communication resource.
"We've been exploring the idea of an electronic flight bag for several years, but never found a device we really liked," Gary Beck, Alaska Airlines' vice president of flight operations, said in a statement. "When the iPad hit the market, we took one look at it and said this is the perfect fit."
Alaska Airlines had previously conducted a test using the iPad with 100 line and instructor pilots. Now that the company is moving forward with the plan, iPads will be issued to all Alaska Airlines pilots by mid-June. This is the first major domestic airline to replace paper manuals with the iPad.
There's an immediate benefit to pilots: The iPad weighs only 1.5 pounds, while the traditional manuals, which pilots where required to have with them at all times, weigh up to 25 pounds. There are other benefits for both the pilots and the airline. Updates to the manuals can be sent out wirelessly, instead of printing new manuals.
The environment will also benefit. Alaska Airlines estimates that this new program, along with other company initiatives, will save about 2.4 million pieces of paper. The airline is looking into replacing paper aeronautical navigation charts (another thing every pilot is required to carry) with iPad versions as well.
The iPad uses an app , called GoodReader, to display PDF versions of 41 flight, systems and performance manuals, reference cards and other information. The manuals are hyperlinked, too, making it easier to jump to the information pilots need quickly.
And yes, the iPad is still classified as a Class 1 electronic device by the Federal Aviation Administration, meaning pilots also have to stow their iPads during takeoff and landing.