Home News Clear to Take-off with iPad in Aircrafts

If you think flying is a sophisticated mode of transportation, then it is going to get a lot better with Apple. The federal aviation administration granted early approval for the use of iPad in airplane cockpits. Major commercial airline companies like Delta are exploring the possibility of using Apple’s touch screen tablet instead of paper maps.

Delta Air Lines, the second-largest carrier in the world, is waiting for approvals to test iPads and other tablet-style devices in its airline cockpits next quarter. The FAA has already endorsed iPads as a test project at Executive Jet Management, a unit of Warren Buffet’s Netjets. The FAA started granting approval for computers for aviation use in the last decade. But these devices are heavy with one aviation computer from Astronautics Corporation of America weighing 18 pounds. Almost everyone is aware that Apple’s latest addition iPad 2 is lighter and thinner.
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iPad use by professional pilots can boost up Apple’s market and can target more business buyers. The company’s total corporate sales may rise 51 percent to $11.3 billion in 2011, said Brian Marshall, a Gleacher & Co. analyst in San Francisco. Revenue was $76.3 billion last year.

While the decision only covers Executive Jet, commercial carriers are now trying to get permission for iPad use, according to Jeppesen, the Boeing Co. (BA) map and accessory business that designed the application in the test. Pilots at Alaska Air Group Inc. (ALK)’s Alaska Airlines, which follows the conventional method of using only paper charts in its 116 aircraft, are testing iPads for some functions, said Marianne Lindsey, a spokeswoman. AMR Corp. (AMR)’s American Airlines and American Eagle rely on paper charts in its 900-plane fleet, said Ed Martelle, a spokesman. If navigation using iPad comes to use, it will make a pilot’s life less stressful. Making flight plans will become less tedious and looking for emergency spots to land or finding alternative airports will be a whole lot easier.

Flying schools are now looking for electronic devices for its students. The traditional method of using charts can get really messy, but with iPad it is easier to handle and look through the charts. Most of the pilots are now using GPS navigation but the problem with it is that it loses signal at times and it may not be reliable. Though pilots have welcomed the idea of iPad in a cockpit, they also feel that the sensible decision would be to have the paper maps as a backup. Jeppesen, the publisher of the industry’s first flight charts, plans to release similar software for iPad competitors running Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android operating system this year, said Jeff Buhl, a senior manager in Jeppesen’s Enterprise Solutions division.

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