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FAA Ok's Use of Apple iPads During Takeoff and Landing

FAA Oks use of Apple iPads During Takeoff and LandingOn December 1, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave American Airlines approval to use Apple iPad tablets during all phases of flight in lieu of traditional paper flight charts and manuals. The new FAA ruling gives American Airlines pilots the green light to use iPads throughout the entire flight, including takeoff and landing. American Airlines is the first major air carrier to get approval for operational use of the iPad as an electronic flight bag.

Six Months of Testing

Last June, American Airlines pilots began testing iPads by running an app, that provided critical in flight information. But until now, the FAA prohibited the use of Class 1 electronic devices from being used during critical phases of flight — operations below 10,000 feet pending further evaluation.

The FAA authorization followed an evaluation period of around six months. During that time, American Airlines pilots had to prove that the iPad and the EFB application did not interfere with crew duties and communication and navigation systems of the aircraft.

The app that American Airlines pilots tested and use is called FliteDeck Pro Enroute. It was created by American Airlines, in collaboration with The Allied Pilots Association and the navigation and planning company Jeppesen.

Since testing began in June, American Airlines pilots have flown thousands of hours using iPads in every stage of flight to test the safety and reliability of the FliteDeck Pro Enroute app.

FliteDeck Pro Enroute is the only FAA-approved EFB app, and use of the iPad during all phases of flight is currently restricted to American Airlines pilots flying the twin-engine Boeing 777.

Big Safety Improvement

According to an American Airlines captain who serves on the Allied Pilots Association safety committee, the iPad is a "real safety enhancer on the flight deck" and "a significant improvement in situational awareness."

Pilots who use iPads say its backlit screen and map that can be panned and zoomed significantly increases the safety aspect of taxiing an airliner on the ground. The scrollable map is also helpful on approaches. The approach chart on the iPad allows pilots to zoom, pan and scroll to their exact location in the air while flying the approach.

Big Savings on Fuel Costs

While the main purpose of the iPad is to improve safety on the flight deck, the iPad’s light weight is also a benefit to pilots and airlines. Pilots will use the 1.5 pound iPad in place of existing 40-pound paper charts and manuals. American Airlines calculates that it could save an estimated $1.2 million in fuel costs. The FAA spokesman expects other major US airlines to seek approval for expanded use of the iPad on the flight deck.

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