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United Pilots To Use iPads For Navigation

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the mid-air-update dept.

Apple 253

bonch writes "Pilots of United and Continental will ditch flight manuals and charts in favor of 11,000 iPads containing the same data in app form. Replacing 38 pounds of paper materials, the iPads will run an app called Mobile FliteDeck from Jeppesen, a provider of software navigation tools. Alaska Airlines adopted iPads back in May. United estimates a savings of 326,000 gallons of fuel a year due to the lighter load."

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Fuel Savings (1, Insightful)

cforciea (1926392) | about 3 years ago | (#37195042)

United estimates a savings of 326,000 gallons of fuel a year due to the lighter load.

And how many gallons of fuel a year are used making all of those 11,000 iPads and shipping them from China?

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

intellitech (1912116) | about 3 years ago | (#37195098)

Apparently, carbon footprint calculations are a selective thing to them.

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195450)

It's a financial calculation not a carbon one. Jet fuel cost is the biggest variable in the airline industry.

Re:Fuel Savings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195536)

Apparently, carbon footprint calculations are a selective thing to them.

Thats because you're holding it wrong!

Seriously? 38lbs? They could save more than that if they required every passenger to pee before flight.

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 3 years ago | (#37195104)

None of United's, that's how many.

Offloading costs onto someone else is a fine upstanding business cost-reduction strategy. I don't understand why you raise irrelevancies like this.

Next, you're gonna insist that non-mandated "externalities" like pollution emission or local wildlife population impacts need to be factored into cost/benefit analyses. Sheesh.

Re:Fuel Savings (3, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 3 years ago | (#37195206)

Exactly. Besides, commercial shipping's quite likely to be via container ship, which is a much more efficient way than flying it.

And when you factor in the environmental cost of the paper (which needs replacement every so often for updates or repair), it start to look like a relatively decent idea, ecologically.

(Mostly commenting to undo a misclicked moderation, but there's my $0.02)

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 years ago | (#37195698)

The cost wasn't offloaded, they paid it as part of the price of the iPad.

The carbon footprint is another matter, but in cases like this, I can believe it is a net win. It's not just the reduced fuel costs to carry the things, it's also the monetary and environment cost of printing and shipping updates periodically vs. just downloading.

What I wonder is will the pilots have a working copy of the manuals if they have an in-flight incident involving extreme maneuvering and want to see what to do to limp to the nearest airport.

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

Godai (104143) | about 3 years ago | (#37195126)

Actually, I was thinking more directly than that. 11,000 iPads are -- without a volume discount (so its a high estmate) -- would be $5.5M roughly. 326,000 gallons fuel -- (if its the same fuel price as you find at the pump) would be roughly $1.1M. So while it might make a lot of sense long term, its going to take 5 years of fuel savings to recoup the investment in iPads. If jet fuel is more expensive than car fuel, it has to be 5x as expensive to make it worth it in a single year.

Re:Fuel Savings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195202)

The big advantage is that the iPad manual doesn't have to be reprinted every year or so, which saves a small fortune on logistics. Plus the pilots (presumably) like it better.

Re:Fuel Savings (2)

sessamoid (165542) | about 3 years ago | (#37195244)

Jet fuel is comparable to gasoline in price. However there's more than just the jet fuel cost. The cost of printing 40 pounds of flight manuals and updates yearly and the manpower to make sure that the updated pages are put in every pilots flight manuals is not insubstantial, either.

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 3 years ago | (#37195256)

Jet Fuel Price Monitor [iata.org]

According to google's conversion (YMMV), 1 Oil Barrel = 42 gallons.

$124.60/42 = 2.96 (which matches the cents/gal column. I wasn't sure if that's what it meant so I did it by hand, since I've never seen 'cents' abbreviated 'cts').

Either way, the point is the same: it's cheaper than regular grade auto fuel by 17% (local prices as of yesterday).

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

ZackSchil (560462) | about 3 years ago | (#37195272)

Jet fuel is about $3 per gallon.

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37195414)

Jet fuel is about $3 per gallon.

Depends on your location and quantity. Last time I looked 100LL was like $5/gal in onesie twosie gallons from the local tiny airport FBO. I'm sure in tanker car loads direct from the refinery, you can pay $3 but not at the pump.

Re:Fuel Savings (2)

i22y (10479) | about 3 years ago | (#37195292)

Actually, I was thinking more directly than that. 11,000 iPads are -- without a volume discount (so its a high estmate) -- would be $5.5M roughly. 326,000 gallons fuel -- (if its the same fuel price as you find at the pump) would be roughly $1.1M. So while it might make a lot of sense long term, its going to take 5 years of fuel savings to recoup the investment in iPads. If jet fuel is more expensive than car fuel, it has to be 5x as expensive to make it worth it in a single year.

They save not only the weight of the paper manuals (what the original fuel savings calculation references), but also the ability to roll out updates to all pilots quickly and cheaply. In addition, Jeppesen paper subscriptions are very expensive. Quite a bit cheaper on the iPad, yielding further savings.

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

crmarvin42 (652893) | about 3 years ago | (#37195322)

So the iPad costs money to buy, but the paper maps don't?

What about the logistics of printing 11,000 35lb paper map books, updating them periodically (presumably on an annual basis at least), and distributing them to their pilots. That all costs real money that would need to be included in the equation. Not saying it would necessarily work out to be break even year one, but I'd expect it to take only a year or two to pay for itself.

Re:Fuel Savings (2)

crmarvin42 (652893) | about 3 years ago | (#37195486)

I don't like responding to my own post, but it turns out a later post answered the update question. It's monthly, but only the changed maps are updated. Currently pilots have to go through the paper binder, and swap the updated maps for the old maps.

37195296 [slashdot.org]

I'd be surprised if large corporate airlines didn't have someone who gets far less than a pilots salary that is responsible for updating the map books for the pilots. OTOH, if the pilots are responsible for their own map updates that's still a lot of time over the year that the pilots save using a digitally distributed map book. And since Time = Money, that would need to be incorparted into the cost benefit analysis as well.

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

Godai (104143) | about 3 years ago | (#37195626)

No, I realize there were other factors involved. I considered the price of producing the maps but assumed it didn't add much to the comparison unless the maps cost a lot more than I assumed. I'm not really arguing against adopting iPads (or whatever handheld) I just took a little umbrage at the way they just threw in the "We save 326,000 gallons of fuel!" as if it was obviously a win. If they were talking 'save the planet', then I'd expect some idea of what % of overall consumption that constituted, so I assumed they were going for a monetary gain. And when I did the ballpark math it annoyed me that it wasn't as obviously a big win as they implied.

And like you point out, there are plenty of other advantages for going digital. Some downsides too, of course, like the danger of electronic failure (though you can ruin paper maps -- assuming they're not laminated -- in a variety of ways as well).

Just had a funny thought -- iPads all have wireless. Does this mean the pilots have to shut them down during takeoff & landing? ;)

(Yes, yes I know they aren't likely to need them turned on during either, but its a funny thought)

Re:Fuel Savings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195326)

I think you're on an interesting track but your argument so far ignores the cost of production, updating and maintenance of paper manuals, replacing lost copies, and the potential cost of an error going uncorrected. You're assuming the manuals exist, aren't worn out, never need correcting and don't need replacing.

First off, are you confident that each of those 11,000 massive piles of specialist publications cost less than $499 each (in your world where volume discounts don't exist), and aren't updated, e.g. yearly? If you are, are you aware of how much medical textbooks cost?

 

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

Godai (104143) | about 3 years ago | (#37195784)

No, I don't. You raise some interesting questions, several of which I considered but were hard to factor without a lot more information. Do the paper manuals get updated often? Or do they sit on a shelf somewhere barely used? Hell, maybe they get replaced every two months (though somehow I doubt it)!

I wasn't necessarily trying to make a definitive assertion, I was mostly just annoyed at the way the article proposed that saving 326,000 gallons of fuel as an obvious major win. I just did the quick math in my head and found a big disparity. Its entirely possible that the maps are far more expensive than I think and that would bring the two closer together, but they don't exactly go into it in the article.

I figure if you're going to put a figure or two forward as proof of how something is a good idea, its on you to provide more context or people like me will do napkin math and might come up with something else.

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | about 3 years ago | (#37195420)

Yea, but think about how much fun they will have playing Angry Birds in the toilet on the plane!

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

linuxwolf69 (1996104) | about 3 years ago | (#37195618)

Why wait for the toilet?? Turn on autopilot and play away.

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 3 years ago | (#37195128)

How much do you think it takes to ship the paper around? It doesn't materialize in the cockpit either, you know.

Re:Fuel Savings (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195340)

hehe, you said "cock pit"

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 3 years ago | (#37195218)

On the other other hand, how often are the 38 pounds of paper manuals updated and re-printed?

I saw Steve Martin's bluegrass concert the other night and he got some comedic mileage out of using an iPad for the set list. "And now for our next number, Angry Birds Level 7." Good show btw.

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37195260)

I was just about to ask if they're going to keep the original books on board. Because iPad batteries could fail suddenly. iPads could catch viruses. I remember when my Treo 650 that I was using as a GPS had it's battery crap out in the middle of an offroad rally. The backlight was flickering a bit earlier in the day but there was no other warning, the battery had suddenly swollen up and died. I was out in the middle of bumfuck nowhere late at night, off-route and completely lost, and my navigator was feeling sick (turned out he was coming down with appendicitis). I had my N900 but it only had street maps which are quite useless (and IIRC not allowed at that time, but I had just called in to let rally control know I was dropping out) for this purpose (we use nautical-style GPS).

Luckily I could find my way back to civilization and was safely on the ground the whole time.

So, tagged article "whatcouldpossiblygowrong."

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37195442)

Yank the battery out, run it off an automotive charger. There exists a worldwide standard panel plug for intercom power, but I haven't been in the left seat of a (small) plane for 20 years, so I don't remember.

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

Zcar (756484) | about 3 years ago | (#37195284)

Compared to all the flights the 11,000 will be making once they're in United's hands? Probably not even worth a footnote.

Re:Fuel Savings (2)

alen (225700) | about 3 years ago | (#37195408)

from what i've read the paper manuals are updated every two weeks with a minimum of 3 sets per aircraft. now it's only going to be 1 set. that's a lot of money saved by going to ipad

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 3 years ago | (#37195482)

Because absolute no fuel is used in the production of the paper nor the shipping of those manuals now? Right... Oh and let's ignore the duplicated cost of shipping those new manuals every time there is a reprint whereas there is no subsequent fuel cost to push out new electronic versions.

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

ehud42 (314607) | about 3 years ago | (#37195700)

before fussing about the 'cost' of delivering iPads. Are those 38 pounds actually noticeable? A 737 can weigh anywhere from 62,000lbs empty to over 175,000lbs. 38lbs is 0.06% of the total weight. Those savings will be lost in the noise. Are there statisticians (sp?) who would be willing to prove the money is actually be saved after the fact? I suspect it is just lost in the noise, and the real reason is more like convenience of use, updates, etc.

Re:Fuel Savings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195712)

>And how many gallons of fuel a year are used making all of those 11,000 iPads and shipping them from China?

The real question is what is the difference between production of those ipads and the creation of the equivalent paper manuals.

I would think that even if the initial expenditure was greater for the iPads, they would have to replace them less often than the paper manuals so it may be a long-term savings.

Re:Fuel Savings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195736)

i bet old stevie jobs is wetting his nappies at the thought of all the money the idiots are wasting .on his junk

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | about 3 years ago | (#37195750)

My guess is that it takes less gallons of fuel a y ear to bring those 11 iPads than it takes to cut down the trees that are then processed into paper, and produce the ink that is used to print said books, and then ship those books to the airports.

If you going to nitpick, you have to nitpick all the way, in all directions.

Re:Fuel Savings (1)

lerxstz (692089) | about 3 years ago | (#37195756)

Well those 11,000 iPads will be shipped once. They will however save fuel repeatedly on flights on an ongoing basis, so it would hopefully be a net savings. Unless they upgrade every year.

My concern would be, will the iPads affect the critical navigation systems in the planes, and will they be too much of a distraction to the pilots if there are (inevitably) other apps on them? I suppose someone thought to consider that, right? Right??

Cool! So I guess we can purchase (1)

shugah (881805) | about 3 years ago | (#37195050)

Flight manuals and navigation charts from the AppStore? Because Apple doesn't allow in-app downloading of books from third party publishers.

Re:Cool! So I guess we can purchase (1)

codegen (103601) | about 3 years ago | (#37195082)

I know you are trying to make a joke, but in-app downloading of books from third party is completely accepted. It is in-app purchase that causes a problem. You can buy the book on amazon.com and download it to the kindle app on ipad, you you just can buy it through the kindle app, or put the link in the kindle app. But you can have a bookmark in safari on the ipad and buy from amazon.com no problem.

Re:Cool! So I guess we can purchase (3, Insightful)

shugah (881805) | about 3 years ago | (#37195484)

Pilot: What's the procedure for a hot restart on a PW4062A at 10,000m?

Co-Pilot: Wait a minute, I just have to find where I downloaded that manual ... WTF? What's a mobi file and why can't my Kobo reader open it?

Pilot (grabs iPad): You idiot! Just get the ePub version and use iBooks!

Co-Pilot: Don't hold it that way it fucks up the antenna!

Pilot: That's the iPhone4 not the iPad

Co-Pilot: Oh yeah. Hey! where the hell are we?

Pilot: How the fuck should I know, this is the WiFi version with no fucking GPS!

Re:Cool! So I guess we can purchase (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#37195740)

Do everyone a favor. Keep your day job. Don't try your hand at script writing.

Re:Cool! So I guess we can purchase (1)

shugah (881805) | about 3 years ago | (#37195806)

Oh Zing! Good one. You sure nailed me!

Re:Cool! So I guess we can purchase (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195246)

You know you can actually set up enterprise-only app deployment for internal applications, right?

Re:Cool! So I guess we can purchase (1)

i22y (10479) | about 3 years ago | (#37195312)

The apps are nothing new. ForeFlight and WingX are the two main products for general aviation.

Re:Cool! So I guess we can purchase (1)

alen (225700) | about 3 years ago | (#37195390)

the are using a third party app from jeppesen. it works via subscription. thousands of professional apps have done this for years. you just can't subscribe from within the app or you have to pay apple 30%.

Re:Cool! So I guess we can purchase (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37195560)

Flight manuals and navigation charts from the AppStore? Because Apple doesn't allow in-app downloading of books from third party publishers.

Conceptual error of "ebook" vs pdf.

I can and have downloaded individual charts in PDF format, for free, from about a zillion different online sites. Then load the PDF in cloudviewer, boot the gaming PC into xplane, and take off on a simulated flight... while holding full charts for my two airports.

I don't know how well that scales to a full subscription of all the worlds charts, probably poorly. But I'm guessing you're thinking of buying the charts in the Kindle App (not even possible, I think?).

Spinning Wing of Death? (1)

terrahertz (911030) | about 3 years ago | (#37195076)

Great, so now we can expect a Spinning Wing of Death when things go awry?

Re:Spinning Wing of Death? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37195400)

Spinning out of control? Just avoid flying it in that way.

iPad taking off (4, Funny)

ewg (158266) | about 3 years ago | (#37195078)

The iPad is finally taking off.

Re:iPad taking off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195132)

That was just plane wrong.

Re:iPad taking off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195248)

Rudder nonsense!

Re:iPad taking off (2)

Palshife (60519) | about 3 years ago | (#37195540)

You'll aileron-ate your friends with jokes that bad!

Re:iPad taking off (1)

commisaro (1007549) | about 3 years ago | (#37195614)

Thanks, these puns really gave me a lift!

Re:iPad taking off (1)

CYDVicious (834329) | about 3 years ago | (#37195616)

These puns are over my head.

Re:iPad taking off (1)

need4mospd (1146215) | about 3 years ago | (#37195746)

Surely you can't be serious?

How archaic (0)

Knave75 (894961) | about 3 years ago | (#37195084)

Instead of getting rid of the pilot manual, why not just get rid of the pilot?

Computers can now fly better than any human. Yes, the Hudson landing was well done, but that does not mean that a computer would not have been able to pull off the same stunt. If I had a choice, I would definitely take the computer-controlled airplane over the one manned by a pilot who may be tired, drunk, a terrorist, etc.

Re:How archaic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195158)

You are mind-bogglingly ignorant.

My God, this place has gone downhill. It more and more resembles a newspaper forum, rather than a gathering of informed minds.

Re:How archaic (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 3 years ago | (#37195184)

Move to Europe -- that's how it's done over there.
Worked out real swell for Air France 447.

Re:How archaic (1)

rabbit994 (686936) | about 3 years ago | (#37195294)

Actually, looks like Air France 447 is mainly due to pilot error. Something about Europeans and ice screws them up completely. See Air France 447 and British Airways 38.

Re:How archaic (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37195816)

Actually, looks like Air France 447 is mainly due to pilot error.

'Pilot error' in the sense that the computer ran into conditions it was unable to handle and dumped the problem back in the hands of the pilots, who -- surprisingly -- couldn't handle it either.

As with another airliner crash some years ago the aircraft seems to have been giving the pilots contradictory readings, and only someone well trained on how to deal with that was likely to be able to keep it in the air.

Re:How archaic (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#37195818)

Actually, looks like Air France 447 is mainly due to pilot error. Something about Europeans and ice screws them up completely. See Air France 447 and British Airways 38.

It appears to be much more complicated than that [aviationweek.com] .

tl;dr - Lots of bad things happening in a complicated plane that insists on keeping some level of control in a flight envelope that has minimal room for error and in situations that many pilots don't get adequate training for.

Yep, pilot error for sure.

Re:How archaic (1)

icebrain (944107) | about 3 years ago | (#37195210)

No they can't. Computer-controlled airplanes can't apply judgment, they can't make decisions. All they do is blindly follow preprogrammed routines, and the ones without human backup still crash with a regularity that would frighten the average person.

Computers may be better at precisely following an invisible airway, or maintaining speed, heading, and altitude to high precision for hours on end, but they really tend to suck at dealing with the unexpected.

Re:How archaic (1)

dragonhunter21 (1815102) | about 3 years ago | (#37195440)

Fun fact, the Hudson landing was actually computer-assisted- he'd set it so the aircraft would help maintain speed so it wouldn't stall out and fall directly into the water.

But yeah, taking off and landing aren't exactly difficult operations anymore. Taking off? Set your TO/GA, line up, hit the button, and pitch up 10 degrees when the computer calls out the speed. Landing? Shit, ILS approaches are so easy six-year-olds can do them.

LOST without power (1)

GreyLurk (35139) | about 3 years ago | (#37195096)

Oh sure, that's fine as long as the plane has electricity, but what happens when it crashes on a desert island, and they only have 16 hours of battery life to repair the plane before the manuals become a really expensive paperweight.

Re:LOST without power (1)

torqer (538711) | about 3 years ago | (#37195280)

...

If a plane were to crash on a deserted island I don't think a flight chart is going to make a difference.

and I'm sure there would be more paper weights than just the ipad... besides, at least you could play some angry birds :)

Re:LOST without power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195670)

Oh sure, that's fine as long as the plane has electricity, but what happens when it crashes on a desert island, and they only have 16 hours of battery life to repair the plane before the manuals become a really expensive paperweight.

Same thing that would have happened with paper manuals: Everyone stays right the fuck where they are until they die or get rescued. Because flight manuals are not airplane repair manuals. Also, pilots are not mechanics. Oh, and the plane didn't crash right next to a fully-equipped repair facility that has all the tools and spare parts you'd need to fix a damaged airplane. Plus the plane is probably already damaged beyond all possibility of repair anyway.

I really hope you were just making a joke that fizzled, and that you're not actually this dumb.

I love that game! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195108)

Flight Control... great game. I hope people don't get too mixed up
http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/flight-control-hd/id363727129?mt=8

Ah, the sky couldn't be any safer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195130)

Pilot #1: Angry Birds
Pilot #2 (co-pilot): Porn

Working overtime is priceless.

We love our iPad, and don't blame us for those rough flights.

- United Airlines

Re:Ah, the sky couldn't be any safer. (1)

linuxwolf69 (1996104) | about 3 years ago | (#37195738)

They have porn on iDevices now??? Thought that was only an Android thing.

Terrorists jailbreak and cause another 9/11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195136)

Slashdot, where nerds go to die.

And a backup Ipad, and a backup of a backup? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195138)

What happens when the ipad dies or doesn't turn on, and the crew *need* to get at that info?

True...almost all flights those books sit there doing nothing, but the *one* time you need them, you *need* them *right the *#$&@* now, and having your ipad be doa or fritz on you would be *A Very Bad Thing*. I'm sure you can save 38 pounds somewhere else on the plane.

Re:And a backup Ipad, and a backup of a backup? (1)

valderost (668593) | about 3 years ago | (#37195436)

The navigational instruments have their own databases too. It's not like a plane will get lost or crash if an iPad doesn't turn on.

Re:And a backup Ipad, and a backup of a backup? (2)

tazan (652775) | about 3 years ago | (#37195458)

On the other hand there's the risk that you didn't get last months update, or the binder has two page 32's and no page 31. With 38 pounds of manuals to collate I'm sure some of them get messed up. My guess is the Ipad is more reliable.

Re:And a backup Ipad, and a backup of a backup? (1)

Le Marteau (206396) | about 3 years ago | (#37195468)

The aircraft already has the critical information needed in it's Flight Management System ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_management_system [wikipedia.org] ) which includes position locating systems (through GPS and/or radio triangulation) and a database of airports, runways, radio frequencies, waypoints, and much other information. As long as the FMS works, the charts are simply backup.

Most pilots will take a look at the approach plates in the charts, just because they are so nicely done and are more visually understandable, but they are not really necessary any more.

Re:And a backup Ipad, and a backup of a backup? (2)

wsxyz (543068) | about 3 years ago | (#37195520)

What happens when the ipad dies or doesn't turn on, and the crew *need* to get at that info?

True...almost all flights those books sit there doing nothing, but the *one* time you need them, you *need* them *right the *#$&@* now, and having your ipad be doa or fritz on you would be *A Very Bad Thing*. I'm sure you can save 38 pounds somewhere else on the plane.

You know, I'd bet that United probably didn't think of that at all.
It's crazy how often anonymous commenters come up with really important considerations that the pros overlook.

Re:And a backup Ipad, and a backup of a backup? (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#37195554)

What happens when the ipad dies or doesn't turn on, and the crew *need* to get at that info?

True...almost all flights those books sit there doing nothing, but the *one* time you need them, you *need* them *right the *#$&@* now, and having your ipad be doa or fritz on you would be *A Very Bad Thing*. I'm sure you can save 38 pounds somewhere else on the plane.

You have two iPads (Captain and first officer). The chance of BOTH iPads failing to work at a critical junction are likely less than the chance the paper charts will get torn / ripped / tossed about the cabin in the event of something very bad happening.

These manuals are for routine work. The emergency checklists are still on paper. Laminated paper.

Huh, makes sense I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195166)

Assuming they did some decent meta-organization (something the University of Colorado was doing some interesting research on while I was there in their psychology department--they have a pretty unique cognitive psych approach there that hooks up with their computational linguistics program (which happens to be doing stuff for DARPA) and the traditional comp sci guys) I can see this working out pretty well.

I also imagine the weight-savings are dwarfed by the advantage of speed in information retrieval. Not to mention the pilots are essentially getting free iPads to play with once they've landed. Sounds like a security risk to me. Not to mention "what happens when the batteries are dead?"

Personal Electronics (2)

macemoneta (154740) | about 3 years ago | (#37195182)

So, I guess the use of personal electronics is OK after all?

Re:Personal Electronics (2)

Darth_brooks (180756) | about 3 years ago | (#37195680)

Nope, Same rules apply. No electronics below ten thousand feet for commercial aircraft. Affect in the pilots? Nil, since they're kinda busy from 0 to 10k anyway.

exploding batteries? (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | about 3 years ago | (#37195188)

keep in mind that other than the LCD, most of that iPad is battery...

This is a joke, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195236)

I could just see someone writing a computer virus that causes the planes to fly to Cuba.

Re:This is a joke, right? (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 3 years ago | (#37195542)

Except for the fact that these iPads are in no way connected to the plane's electronics? Are you a moron or what?

Re:This is a joke, right? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#37195632)

I could just see someone writing a computer virus that causes the planes to fly to Cuba.

Just about as likely as this sort of thing happening. [gawkerassets.com]

In Four Hundred and... (2)

Leekle2ManE (1673760) | about 3 years ago | (#37195238)

Thirty-two miles, begin your descent to...

Recalculating...

Scale of the problem (2)

mdarksbane (587589) | about 3 years ago | (#37195296)

My father-in-law is an amateur pilot who recently explained the scale of this problem to me. It boggles the mind. He said that just in his once a month-or-so flights, he would make back the cost of the ipad over the course of a year, easily.

Every plane has to have the maps and approaches for every airport on their route. But it's more than that. They also need all of the maps for every airport near their route, in case they have to do an emergency landing.

There are a lot of little airports and lots of different approaches. The stack of charts for just the state of Ohio is at least a very thick binder. And, then if you want to fly a little farther on a trip, you get to buy all of those charts, too.

But that's now where it gets complicated. These charts are updated monthly. And the updates are distributed as a "diff" - just the ones that have changed. So you have to go through your binder and replace every single page that's different. And sometimes you find out it was just a temporary change, and it's already changed back.

It's really a big mess for an amateur pilot to take care of. The commercial airlines pay big money just to keep all of their charts in order every month... even though the vast majority of them are never even looked at by the pilots.

So, provided that the battery life is good enough, this is a huge weight/headache/cost reducer for the airlines.

Re:Scale of the problem (1)

mdf356 (774923) | about 3 years ago | (#37195470)

Admittedly it's been 20 years but my father is also an amateur pilot. I never flew outside of Ohio with him, but I recall only 1 map in the airplane, and no detailed info for any airport other than what that one map contained.

Re:Scale of the problem (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about 3 years ago | (#37195552)

Funny that TFA made a bigger deal about fuel cost, clutter, etc., than the public safety benefit to real-time information.

Re:Scale of the problem (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37195754)

They also need all of the maps for every airport near their route, in case they have to do an emergency landing.

I see not much has changed in the 20 years since I flew a little 152.

Note the critical difference between "need" as in an engineering or technical or real-world need, and "need" as in FAA regs plus pilot tradition say you really need to do this. You already have to listen to ATIS/AWOS to get the altimeter setting, and there is currently a service that digitally broadcasts weather info, and I'm surprised there's nothing out there broadcasting simple digital chart info. Maybe in 10 or 20 years...

Its an interesting intellectual challenge, if in a freak fire accident you lost all your charts, what would be the BEST way to get it on the ground safely. Its very hard to create a scenario where your best choice is to say your prayers. All comm radios are out, transponder out, IFR conditions for hundreds of miles in all directions from dirt to stars, nighttime, low on fuel, all simultaneously seems to be the absolute minimum required, remove any of those conditions and you'd eventually be home free...

Re:Scale of the problem (1)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | about 3 years ago | (#37195786)

Every plane has to have the maps and approaches for every airport on their route. But it's more than that. They also need all of the maps for every airport near their route, in case they have to do an emergency landing...

This sounds like instrument approach stuff. On every cross-country flight I've done I've taken my charts and airport sketches with frequencies and stuff (e.g. circuit patterns and altitudes). If I need to divert somewhere, I pull out the Canada Flight Supplement [navcanada.ca] and look up what I need.

...laura

Stow for landing? (1)

valderost (668593) | about 3 years ago | (#37195314)

Those electronic approach plates aren't going to do anyone any good once the iPads are turned off and stowed for landing.

Don't fly on any airline that uses Android tablets (1, Funny)

jmcbain (1233044) | about 3 years ago | (#37195362)

I definitely would not want to fly with any airline that uses Android tablets.

  • If the airline uses Android tablets, that means the airline is not doing well financially, which means they're probably cutting back on safety and comfort as well.
  • Android's excessive fragmentation and malware means that the Android tablets may be crippled, causing the pilots to crash the plane.

Say NO to mediocrity. Say NO to Android.

Re:Don't fly on any airline that uses Android tabl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195636)

Did you post just to be told you are a fucking idiot?

Makes sense to me. (1)

dragonhunter21 (1815102) | about 3 years ago | (#37195386)

I'm in a college course for professional pilots, and iPad2s are required equipment, mainly (as it was explained to me) because of the charts.

I'm no great fan of the iPads, but it's smaller, lighter, and easier to use inside a cockpit. Sounds like a plan to me.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195460)

...now we know who jizzed their pants at the slightly thinner ipad2.

Do they have to power them off? (1)

davevr (29843) | about 3 years ago | (#37195564)

Do they have to power them off at take-off and landing? If not, why do they make us do that?

Turn them off? (2)

madmark1 (1946846) | about 3 years ago | (#37195574)

Does this mean they will all turn them off during takeoff and landing, or is an iPad actually sitting in the cockpit next to the radio stack and other sensitive navigation equipment not as worrysome as one at the back of the plane near the restrooms?

why hasn't this been posted yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195610)

how does dropping 38 pounds a flight save that much fuel? what am i missing?

What if it fails? (1)

khendron (225184) | about 3 years ago | (#37195652)

I can imagine the announcement from the cockpit: "This is your captain speaking.We will be in a holding pattern for a little bit, while we deal with some minor technical issues. I expect we will be delayed about 1 hour into Chicago...By the way, does anybody on board have an iPad?"

Done in an 11-year old New Yorker cartoon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37195688)

http://www.cartoonbank.com/2000/this-is-so-cool-im-flying-this-thing-completely-on-my-palm-pilot/invt/119393/

Not flying with them ever again (1)

Wingfat (911988) | about 3 years ago | (#37195722)

please remind me to never fly with them. In my years of boycotting Apple this should be the easiest one to do. I would never trust or rely on a device that is hackable by a 12yr old for functions people might need to survive. what's next are they going to hook the controllers up to a Wii Mote? (a 6axis Sony controller would work better though )

Angry birds (1)

microbee (682094) | about 3 years ago | (#37195812)

The plane will definitely see some angry birds

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