Pilots Can Soon Use Their iPads in the Cockpit to Replace All Paper Materials

Posted by Carter Dotson on December 15th, 2011

Previously, I reported that pilots were using special apps to help cut down on paper clutter in the cockpit by storing digital copies of flight charts. Now, the Federal Aviation Administration is going to allow for the expanded usage of iPads in the cockpit for the use and storage of charts and manuals as well as flight charts in the cockpit during flights, starting with American Airlines flights on Boeing 777 planes on Friday, December 16th. What's curious is that even just by lightening flight loads by 35 pounds as iPad usage versus paper materials provides, airlines can save $1.2 million in fuel costs. For cash-strapped airlines like American Airlines, this is surely wonderful news.

This raises the question, of course, if pilots can now use their iPads in the cockpit, and if they can have them on during landing and takeoff as they conceivably could, what's stopping the FAA from allowing people to use their own iPads at the same time, far away from the sensitive equipment? With little evidence to suggest that electronic devices offer any kind of risk, it might be time for the FAA to re-examine this policy.