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US Air Force Buys iPads To Replace Flight Bags

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the brand-new-bag dept.

The Almighty Buck 348

redletterdave writes "Following the precedent set by commercial airliners, the U.S. Air Force plans to buy up to 18,000 iPads for its Air Mobility Command (AMC), replacing heavy flight bags with light and efficient Apple iPad 2s for the crews that fly cargo aircraft. The devices will reportedly be used by the crews on the C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster aircraft. There are several benefits to using electronic flight bags instead of physical versions. For one, the iPad can instantly update charts electronically, while the AMC would require flying charts get reprinted every 28 days to stay up-to-date. By cutting publication printing and distribution costs, and exchanging 70 pounds of paper for a 1.3-pound iPad, the Air Force can save some serious cash, including more than $1.2 million worth of fuel per year."

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Battery (5, Insightful)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974391)

But printed charts and manuals don't have an 8-10 hour battery time ...

Re:Battery (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974431)

It's OK man - they can spend $1.2 million recharging them!

Re:Battery (4, Interesting)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974779)

Great opportunity for the Chinese government to backdoor via Foxconn, etc.

Re:Battery (4, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974955)

Seriously. Perhaps it is just a fantasy I've held since I was younger, but I would have thought the military would have developed their own systems, designed to survive Armageddon. The thought of a military officer touting an Apple iPad into battle is a little...strange; I mean, they are cargo aircraft, but still. All we need are some Hal-branded headphones, and Twitter-enabled position locators, and the image shall be complete.

 

Re:Battery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974443)

... and an iPad 2 probably does not constitute even adequate emergency airsickness gear...

Re:Battery (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974483)

If you don't have electrical power in your plane you got much more serious problems than to worry about a dead iPad battery I believe.

Re:Battery (1, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974745)

Well, I'm not an aircraft engineer (either ground or flight), but I really don't remember 120v 60hz AC service routinely available on most military aircraft I've flown in. The stuff I've seen is 120 Vac at 400hz or 28 Vdc.

I suppose a multi-billion dollar program to retrofit all these AMC aircraft to include US household current on the flight decks of the current transport aircraft inventory wouldn't be all bad...

iPad can charge off of USB ... (1, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974863)

Well, I'm not an aircraft engineer (either ground or flight), but I really don't remember 120v 60hz AC service routinely available on most military aircraft I've flown in. The stuff I've seen is 120 Vac at 400hz or 28 Vdc. I suppose a multi-billion dollar program to retrofit all these AMC aircraft to include US household current on the flight decks of the current transport aircraft inventory wouldn't be all bad...

Like most other gadgets, the iPad can charge off of a USB port. That would be 5 Vdc.

Re:iPad can charge off of USB ... (0, Troll)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974993)

So, go ahead and find me a USB port on the flight deck of a C-17. I'll wait.

<crickets>

I thought so. Whatever they're doing to keep their pads charged beyond normal battery endurance, it'll be a workaround hack (issuing external USB-connected battery packs along with the pad) or some significant auxiliary systems re-engineering of in-service military transport aircraft.

Too bad Boeing and Lockheed-Martin didn't have you working for them back when they designed those aircraft. And also, that USB hadn't been invented back when they designed those aircraft.

Re:iPad can charge off of USB ... (4, Interesting)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975071)

I think the point is that if there are any power ports available--and I don't know if there are, but if they are--it shouldn't be difficult to make an adaptor that can peel off 5V DC and spit it out of a USB-shaped plug.

Re:iPad can charge off of USB ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38975125)

It'll cost $5 to build, $50 to buy and $5000 to install. I think the Government will take two per iPad.

Re:iPad can charge off of USB ... (2)

yakatz (1176317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975049)

Like most other gadgets, the iPad can charge off of a USB port. That would be 5 Vdc.

Actually, the iPad can not be charged off a standard USB port while it is powered on. It draws 1.5 amps (more than the .5 amps of USB 2.0).
There are USB ports that will charge the iPad (if they support the Battery Charging v1.1 [usb.org] spec), but having those on a device is rare.

The iPad can charge slowly when it is asleep from a standard USB 2.0 port if there is nothing else drawing power.

Re:Battery (2)

dwywit (1109409) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974951)

S'funny - I thought ipads charged at USB current and voltage.
 
I'd have thought even the USAF wouldn't be stupid enough NOT to take mid-air charging into account when they were considering this, although a mil-spec 120VAC/400Hz or 28Vdc to USB plugpack will probably cost $40,000 each when the supply contracts are signed.

Re:Battery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974503)

a) I'm sure there's a charger onboard.
b) these flights would sooner run out of fuel than iPad battery juice

With 3G/WIFI/Notifications/Push Email off you can make it last more than a week as a reference book. iPad has a 30 day standby battery life.

Re:Battery (0, Troll)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974663)

Really? 5, Insightful, for making the totally obvious point that electronic devices have limited battery lifespans, and that any plan to use electronic devices in a particular environment should take account of that fact? This is what passes for highly rated commentary on /.? Does anyone really think that the Air Force hasn't incorporated this little fact into their planning?

I look forward to Picardo85's other stunning observations, such as how the routine use of food prevents starvation.

Re:Battery (4, Interesting)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974785)

You're not an Air Force veteran, are you?

Yeah, it's actually quite reasonable to question whether the issue of battery life and providing mains power in an airplane has even been considered. It's fairly routine for system acquisition agencies to overlook little technicalities like this.

Re:Battery (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974791)

They can probably keep them powered while they fly. MY concern would be that some glitch (or an EMP from solar storm, or something) would cause them to fail, in which case the only real backup is... a paper chart. Which would mean they have to buy charts anyway, and won't actually save any money.

Maybe they think having 2-3 of them on board at a time constitutes "backup". Who knows? All I know is that I'd want a paper chart to be there. Just in case.

Re:Battery (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975009)

Yes, like getting shot down over enemy territory, with a map that will only last 9 hours. 300 kilometers, 9 hours, yeah, that's doable.

Re:Battery (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975021)

There's no reason to not keep an annually updated paper copy in the plane, in addition to the monthly updated digital copy. I think the bigger problem is going to come from battery replacements - which isn't as easy as just swapping in a new battery pack when the current one goes dead. You have to plug it in to a wall for 2-4 hours to bet to 50% charge first.

Re:Battery (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975109)

Well, my first response to that would be "How secure is the rest of the plane to an EMP blast?", because if charts are all you got and the remaining electronics just got fried, I'd guess you're in big trouble anyway. These are after all cargo planes, they're not what you plan to use on your front lines. Your RORO ships aren't exactly the best at naval warfare either....

Re:Battery (2)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974815)

I look forward to Picardo85's other stunning observations, such as how the routine use of food prevents starvation.

I too was a bit shocked by getting 5 for insightful. But yeah, I do have other contributions to /. that have been of more value than that obvious post, so don't worry. I'm not just here to steal your mod points. ;-)

Re:Battery (1)

grouchomarxist (127479) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974683)

The iPad 2 has a battery life of around 10 hours continuous use. I don't think they plan on using them continuously.

Re:Battery (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974697)

I can't help but think that if the goal is to have electronic versions of the manuals and charting there are better choices available, but the iPad gets picked because everybody wants one. I would have hoped that the US Military would look to open source solutions . . . .

Re:Battery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974831)

You want something that works today and that someone else keeps up-to-date and compatible (read iPad3, 4, 5..),
  not something that might work tomorrow on your customized hardware if someone writes the software...

Re:Battery (3, Informative)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974907)

I'd be happy if they looked at a secure solution!

The only tablets with FIPS certification right now are the Blackberry Playbook (which it had ages ago) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (which just got certified last month).

Apple said they were working on getting FIPS certification back in 2010, but that never materialized.

Re:Battery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974881)

And printed charts and manuals don't need to be hardened against EMP.

Re:Battery (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975127)

28 day shelf life versus 8-10 hour battery that can be charged trivially with one of the most standardized interfaces in the world.

Flight door... (5, Funny)

Nittle (1356899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974413)

What about when they have to turn them off when the flight door is closed?

They should wait a few more months (3, Interesting)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974415)

The people who have been sniffing around Apple's supply chain say that the iPad3 will have a 2048x1572 screen, etc ... so why not get the iPad2 cheaper, or get the iPad3 for its better display, etc.?

Re:They should wait a few more months (5, Insightful)

grouchomarxist (127479) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974561)

Have you actually gone through the military procurement system? They probably ordered these when the iPad (1) was announced.

You can always wait... (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974619)

You can always wait for the next version, but at some point you have to actually make a purchase.

Hrmm.. (1, Insightful)

mirix (1649853) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974417)

They should probably keep paper around, even if it isn't updated as often, as a backup.

It's going to suck to have nothing when your batteries die or the software fails.

$1.2M of fuel seems like a drop in the bucket for the amount of birds they keep in the air, and one falling out of it is worth far more.

Re:Hrmm.. (2, Interesting)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974617)

The FAAs position with other carriers has been that there has to be an alternate source of the information, and at least one company has gotten by with a second ipad as that source. So, I imagine that the Air Force will have to either continue to lug around the paper, or the will have to have two ipads. Personally, i wouldn't find it worth the hassle and would just use the paper charts.
Alternatively, they could buy an actual piece of equipment designed from the ground up and rigorously tested for exactly this purpose and which is permanently in the cockpit and can also be updated via subscription services. But then they wouldn't have toy ipads to play with at taxpayers expense.

Re:Hrmm.. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974661)

Something designed for this is going to cost a hell of a lot more than $500. Paper charts are far less convenient. Try doing a search on a paper book, for a term not in the index.

This seems like win win. Taxpayers save by using COTS tech and crews get ipads.

Re:Hrmm.. (1)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974935)

Try doing a search on a paper book, for a term not in the index.

Try using a search in place of a proper index. I guaranteed you'll take the well-designed index every time.

Re:Hrmm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974691)

The Air Force isn't governed by the FAA.

Re:Hrmm.. (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974869)

The Air Force cooperates with and submits to the authority of the FAA except during national emergencies and within designated Military Operation Areas (in which they usually still keep the FAA abreast of their intended activities).

Re:Hrmm.. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974753)

Alternatively, they could buy an actual piece of equipment designed from the ground up and rigorously tested for exactly this purpose and which is permanently in the cockpit and can also be updated via subscription services. But then they wouldn't have toy ipads to play with at taxpayers expense.

Are you referring to an existing device that's cheaper than an iPad, or just taking a pot-shot?

Re:Hrmm.. (3, Interesting)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974973)

They are not cheaper than an ipad. In fact they are much more expensive. However, they are designed for use in flight environments, they have input methods specifically designed for use in flight, they are rigorously tested for interference with other devices and certified for cockpit use by the FAA. They also have larger, easier to read displays that are designed to be used in cockpits where it can be either very dark, or the sun can be shining directly on it. They are also wired into the electronics system, can integrate with the autopilot and other aircraft devices, and are not loose in the cockpit. Finally, another plus is that many and possibly all C-5 and C-17 aircraft in operation already have them.

Re:Hrmm.. (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974919)

Alternate source: So when the captain's iPad batteries go dead, you discover that the First Officer has been playing Angry Birds since departure.

Re:Hrmm.. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974939)

So, I imagine that the Air Force will have to either continue to lug around the paper, or the will have to have two ipads.

Contact [wikipedia.org] : S.R. Hadden: First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price?

Re:Hrmm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974641)

Drop in the bucket? That's probably nearly a quarter of a Mitt's worth of tax savings, my friend.

Re:Hrmm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974681)

Dont think the military to be dumb. There maybe lots of red tape and redundancy but plain dumb is not it. Thats like saying hey fighter pilot fly this plane without going to school first for it.

Re:Hrmm.. (1)

xs650 (741277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974705)

There is enough excess electrical power on aircraft to run an iPad or 50 so batteries aren't a problem. If the pilot, co-pilot and loadmaster have ipads, then 1 or 2 of them failing wouldn't endanger the mission.

Re:Hrmm.. (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974905)

I was thinking of a situation when you've lost power, perhaps some sort of EMP has taken out your iPads too.

Might want a paper map to find somewhere nice to put 'er down, no..?

Re:Hrmm.. (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975067)

if you lost power like that? you have lost control of 90%of the plane anyways, and your going to be landing really quickly. whether you want to or not.

besides the ipad has a battery. If it is plugged in when the power goes out you still have 8 hours to land which is probably 2 times longer than the pilots are capable of handling one of those cargo planes for manually.

think about it.

Re:Hrmm.. (4, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974827)

I have to say, it reminds me of the comment an ex-Signals guy doing his amateur radio licence at the local club made, along the lines of "a map with a bullethole in it is a map that's still mostly accurate, but a laptop with a bullethole in it is really just too big to be a useful paperweight"

Oh (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974427)

So that is what "Airplane Mode" does.

In Soviet Russia (1)

jmcbain (1233044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974459)

they use Android tablets.

$1.2 million/year with $18,000 iPads (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974467)

Each iPad saves them ~$67/year, or $330 over 5 years, by which time they'll be utterly outdated. I know this is a drop in the ocean cf. the military budget, but it is through tiny leaks like this that the ship sinks.

Re:$1.2 million/year with $18,000 iPads (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974533)

That is only the fuel, you forgot the cost of printing those books, distributing them, making sure the latest version is on each aircraft, replacing damaged copies, etc.

Re:$1.2 million/year with $18,000 iPads (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974671)

I remember reading an article a while back by a retired USAF pilot where he wrote about the time spent making sure that all the manuals and other paperwork were up to date and the trouble he could get into if it wasn't when someone inspected the aircraft. So I'm guessing that could save more than $1.2 million dollars of aircrew time.

Why not an E-Reader? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974479)

Wouldn't an e-reader like a Kindle be much more suitable for this, and be much less expensive? Battery life would be 10x better too, which is a big concern when you're dealing with something important like documentation for military hardware!

Re:Why not an E-Reader? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974607)

You generally cannot role out your own apps for ereaders. Each book can be an app, this means you can update them using the enterprise app stores and all that jazz.

Re:Why not an E-Reader? (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975015)

These planes are huge. Why don't they build the device into the electronics of the plane? It would be a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of the avionics already on board.

Re:Why not an E-Reader? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975123)

Why don't they build the device into the electronics of the plane?
Because they already did that, but the pilots don't get to play angry birds on the integrated devices.

Massive loss (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974489)

Well, unless the USAF is paying $66.66 per iPad, the cost of the things alone (not to mention associated costs) far outstrips the fuel savings. Of course, they're going to re-purchase these things very, very frequently (as Apple averages only a few years of support per gadget), so there's no telling how much money, time, and possible operational problems, this bonehead move is going to waste.

Re:Massive loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974675)

Considering that a lot of the equipment on these planes was built in the 60s or earlier by companies that aren't even around anymore (let alone offer support), I don't see them being repurchased "very, very frequently". Of course, I also don't see them making a single iPad last 50 years, but somewhere between the two extremes lies some potential cost savings that they have analyzed, and we have not.

Re:Massive loss (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974847)

The planes weren't designed to be outdated in two years, though.

I'd also imagine that a lot of the devices in planes, if it is anything like the old mil electronics I've come across... are contracted by the DoD to whoever, it doesn't matter if the company still exists - the DoD still has the specs and can get someone else to build replacement units (not to mention they over bought spare parts in the first place).
I'd also imagine most outfits involved still exist in some way, perhaps swallowed by other massive defense contractors.

Re:Massive loss (1)

Tourney3p0 (772619) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975057)

Tablets, at least for the purpose they're using them, also won't be outdated in two years. Many of the planes are running Falcon View on Windows 2000 on the original computers that came with Windows 98. Similarly, stuff like PASS3200 for analyzing 1553 data are sometimes still running their original Windows 95 computers even though they could easily be analyzed in Windows 7. There's just no need to. They're running the exact same stuff now as they were then, and so age is no factor.

Now, if you're talking about being designed to *break* in two years, that might be a different story. But it would also be a story not as many people would be willing to swallow.

Re:Massive loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974679)

Well, unless the USAF is paying $66.66 per iPad, the cost of the things alone (not to mention associated costs) far outstrips the fuel savings. Of course, they're going to re-purchase these things very, very frequently (as Apple averages only a few years of support per gadget), so there's no telling how much money, time, and possible operational problems, this bonehead move is going to waste.

The flight bags are not free. It costs money to print out new material, that must be don't every month, and transport said material from the printing location to the pilots. You need add up printing saving + transport + fuel savings cost of iPads and support.

Re:Massive loss (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975169)

Right, totally, because fuel savings are the only savings they'll see. Not the cost of paper, or bags for carrying them, or recycling the paper every 28 days...

E-paper (4, Informative)

jader3rd (2222716) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974505)

Wouldn't a device with e-paper (Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, etc) be a better replacement for books? Those devices have no glare, have all of the benefits listed, and all have a longer battery life.

Re:E-paper (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974555)

You're missing the point, which is to plug Apple.

Re:E-paper (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974609)

Yeah, but then we wouldn't be dumping so much money into the Chinese economy.

Re:E-paper (1)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974669)

The iPad is made in China too, your argument is invalid.

Re:E-paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974721)

That was the entire point of his post, twit.
Think before you post about other people not thinking.

Re:E-paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38975003)

He obviously meant to say that the Kindle, Nook, etc is also made in China.
You need to take your own advice regarding thinking before posting.

Re:E-paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38975031)

In his defense, my fellow Anonymous Coward, our dear friend Reverend Dave may have misread the statement. I know I did. So, instead of jumping on someone behind an anonymous shield to degrade and belittle them, how about you take a second to understand him. Jerk. ...and I'm onux16. I ain't scurred o' no internets!

Re:E-paper (1)

grouchomarxist (127479) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974901)

Of the devices mentioned, they're all manufactured in China or Taiwan, except for the Sony Reader, for which I can't find good references as to where it is manufactured. It probably was manufactured in Japan, but I read that manufacturing was moved to China after the earthquake.

Re:E-paper (2)

swonkdog (70409) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975107)

I have one of last year's versions of Sony's Reader (PRS-650), it's stamped 'Made in China'. I have no reason to doubt that the others are any different.

Not books (4, Informative)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974653)

These are more for diagrams and maps. e-paper is best for text only.

Re:E-paper (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974659)

Well actually the article which TFA refers to points out, "AMC said in a notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website Thursday that it planned to buy "a minimum of 63 and a maximum of 18,000, iPad 2, Brand Name or Equal devices" for the crews that fly cargo aircraft such as the C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster. Lt. Col. Glen Roberts, AMC public affairs director, said the command "is looking for a tablet device, not necessarily an iPad."

So it's not a done deal for Apple, yet.

Re:E-paper (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974773)

I found a reference that indicates the number of C-5 And C-17s that the Air Force operates to be 316 (as of 2009). It seems odd that they would consider purchasing up to 600 tablet devices per airplane for the fleet.

Re:E-paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974915)

I would speculate that each ipad is per pilot/navigator/aircrew, (allowing them to be used for maps AND other manuals).

Re:E-paper (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974725)

The real purpose of this is an angry birds style app for launching the bombs. You can't do that with the kindle.

Re:E-paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974821)

AF Pilot here...

What they are not saying is that the iPad (or preferrably an Android device), is an application platform. They are erroneously saying that it will be only for static documents. In reality, maps and such require search features, the ability to show the aircraft position on the map overlaid with weather, terrain, etc... We need a tablet with a nice high res screen, long battery life, relatively open-SDK's, and interoperability with the military non-classified network.

The Kindle, Nook, Sony reader are far, far too slow. Color is definitely needed.

Re:E-paper (1)

Tourney3p0 (772619) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974895)

I'm not sure what you fly, but since it's Air Force then you probably already have DMIS or will be getting it in the next block cycle.

Re:E-paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38975035)

I don't know what that is.... I thought DMIS was a medical IT system.

Re:E-paper (1)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975073)

Name one e-paper device which is at least semi-rugged. Gorilla glass and aluminum bodied. Go ahead, name one. *Dislcaimer: I am an Apple hater, but they do some things right.

Great (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974545)

Since you really want to replace hard copies with something that runs on a battery, you could at least go for something that gives you at least access to, say, its file system. Or something for which you won't pay extra just for the logo.

One thing iPads are rotten at.. (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974585)

Data entry device.

Yuck. Going back and forth between number and alpha keyboards on screen nearly caused a riot. I had to code custom on-screen touch-keypads to allow speedy, painless data entry. Nice as a readout device and OK with some interation, but be wary of using one for data capture.

Re:One thing iPads are rotten at.. (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974709)

I only have an android tablet, but isn't it just long press on certain letters to get numbers? That is what my android tablet does.

Re:One thing iPads are rotten at.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974723)

Do you often do data entry into a fucking manual?

Re:One thing iPads are rotten at.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38975039)

I think the idea is a good one. I would have picked something with e-ink instead though (because of glare). HOWEVER, how much data entry are you doing on your charts?

Tablet, not iPad (5, Interesting)

clickforfreepizza (2465094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974591)

TFA specifies once that in truth, they are looking at tablets, not just iPads. Than it's back to Apple this and iPad that. If it indeed is a forgone conclusion, they should have explained why. That's some mighty fine journalism, there. Also, they mention iOS isn't certified yet; don't know if any tablet is.

18000 iPad 1.2 million (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974601)

And no, the cost wont add up over the years. Maintenance and replacement cost is greater than 1.2 million per years. Granted 4 years device lifecycle with lifetime warranty, the real cost is 12 million per generation, so 1.8 million per years more than paper.

However, there is improved flexibility and efficiency. But saying it will save cost is plain wrong.

Re:18000 iPad 1.2 million (1)

crashumbc (1221174) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974703)

that is ONLY the fuel costs... it doesn't include printing and distribution savings...

Re:18000 iPad 1.2 million (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974803)

Granted 8 years device lifecycle, the cost is half that. Granted 2 years, it's twice. This is either brilliant or stupid. I hope someone is promoted or fired for this.

Serious cash. (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974621)

I guess $1.2 million could be considered serious cash. I mean, if you multiply that by a factor of about five thousand, you're up to 1% of the US military budget. </sarcasm>

NOT a iPad , a tablet (5, Informative)

bongey (974911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974635)

iPad != tablet

Lt. Col. Glen Roberts, clarified the report, stating the commend "is looking for a tablet device, not necessarily an iPad"

Seeing that there is custom DoD Android edition and clearances, where iOS has not . http://www.bgr.com/2011/12/28/pentagon-approves-android-device-for-department-of-defense-apple-still-awaits-clearance/ [bgr.com] . There is even a DoD SDK.

But one thing about the Air Force there are different commands and they all make different decisions . ASFOC will make one decision, AMC another and the ANG another, and they never cooperate, costing tax payers millions.

Re:NOT a iPad , a tablet (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974897)

ASFOC will make one decision, AMC another and the ANG another, and they never cooperate, costing tax payers millions.

In theory (i.e., the Federal Acquisition Regulations [acquisition.gov] ), they're supposed to. But the links in the story do make it look like a direct acquisition through the operational command, and not through an Air Force Materiel Command acquisition agency. I guess the cost of even thousands of overpriced iPads isn't enough money to warrant that.

I think people forget what each is for (2)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974643)

sure, the ipad is a great way to replace paper. but clearly someone's forgotten what the flight bags are for. there are a few beautiful things about paper -- it's always there, it has zero dependencies, laminated it can withstand more than the human using it, and absolutely nothing can go wrong with it. it just can't break.

so since these things are consulted when the plane breaks, two engines die, and the power is out, it's nice to have the redundancy be a completely different technology.

so when the ipad hangs, is there tech support mid-flight? remember, paper has zero tech support requirements.

That's...strange (1)

TennCasey (1667347) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974699)

The military decided on Android for phones [cnn.com] but iOS on tablets? They should try being more consistent...

Chinese military hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38975089)

Send Foxconn deactivation code in 5, 4, 3, 2... Wonderful. What next? iMissile from China? What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Chinese military hardware (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975143)

exactly. The west is destroying itself by trusting goods coming from China. Instead, the west's military should require that all electronic be secured by west manufacturing.

5 4 3 2 1 EMP!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38975103)

Does Apple actually make a MILSPEC iPad? If not, what are their plans for what to do if the "big one" finally happens and all consumer electronics are fried?

require that these be secured (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975117)

In particular, any computer needs to be built in the west, with chips from the west, to be trusted.

I hope they go with something else (2)

limaxray (1292094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975151)

I work in the corporate aviation side and deal with EFBs on a regular basis, including iPads. EFBs are nothing new, and the iPad certainly isn't the first such device on the market - in the past they have been mostly Windows tablets. The main benefit of iPads is the ease of use and support. Windows based EFBs are a support nightmare just like any other Windows machine (user malfunctions mostly), and the iPads make this much easier as they are fairly idiot-proof.

And that's where the benefits end. They simply are not designed for the rugged environment of a cockpit and flight crews tend to be about as dainty as gorilla. My biggest complain is the proprietary connector - it's weak, flimsy and breaks easily, and then is a challenge to replace as it is not a standard connector. The screens are decent for 'consumer grade' devices, but sunlight readablitly is not as good as some of dedicated EFB products out there. I'm also not aware of any 'Made for iPad' devices that allow interfacing with a ship's avionics to acquire weather, flight plan and position data as we do with Windows tablets.

Now I hate Windows EFBs with a burning passion, but I just don't think iPads are appropriate for professional aviators. We've been supporting them in the field for less than a year and they are simply not holding up. IMO a rugged Android tablet with appropriate Android Open Accessory avionics interfacing would be a much better solution, but I don't know what is out there to this end. Everyone wants their iPads and doesn't care to hear about anything else...

Still haven't received mine... (2)

jbwolfe (241413) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975161)

In keeping with established tradition, my company has still not provided the promised EFB (electronic flight bag). we have been told literally "any day now" since 2004. Many studies, prototypes and vendors have been examined, but finally, as of October 2011, a commitment was made to procure the iPad. The new promise was November, then mid-December. And still... no device. Current issue is regulatory and infrastructural. At any rate, the advantage is mostly one of convenience. For someone with near vision issues, it will be very helpful. But the real gain will be that the paper won't have any more coffee stains on them. What it will not provide is depiction of aircraft position, but that may actually be good as you'd want one source for that- on-board navigation. Some of the relevant issues: *Who's responsible for equipment (if stolen, broken, not charged, etc.) *Can we use it below 10000' (not trivial to FAA) *How will data be updated (do I provide access to server or company) *can the device be incorporated as "aircraft permanent equipment" *can I watch porn on it or jailbreak/root it (of course not) *can they monitor what they do with it (not unless required by law, but they certainly will...)
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