Airlines and iPads: First Pilots, then Passengers?

More Pilots Swap Paper Manual for iPads

United/Continental has just announced it’ll be handing out about 11,000 iPads to its airline pilots to replace their paper flight manuals. It has nothing to do with the “coolness” factor and almost everything to do with reducing weight on planes, thereby saving fuel. Those manuals can weigh a whopping 25 pounds or more. And there are plans to save even more weight since United also want to provide pilots with paperless navigation charts via iPad app.

Why iPads are Good for Passengers

Fuel is an airline’s single biggest cost, and this has been a roller-coaster year with the price of oil at one point zooming over the $110 per barrel. As always, costs like these get passed onto passengers in the form of higher airfare prices or higher/new airline fees. Reduced fuel costs may not mean reduced prices on airline tickets, but it may mean fewer and farther between airfare hikes.

Which Airlines use iPads

United is not the first to provide iPads to its flight crews, and more are expected to join this high-tech revolution. Here’s the roundup of iPads currently in cockpits:

  • Alaska Airlines: Began replacing manuals with iPads in May
  • American Airlines: Began testing iPads in June
  • British Airways: Now supplying flight attendants with iPads pre-loaded with safety documents
  • Delta Air Lines: Testing of iPads now underway

Will We See iPads in Passenger Cabins?

Some of your favorite airlines already come equipped with individual seat back screens including Virgin Atlantic and JetBlue, but what about replacing this technology with tablets? Well, why not: Finnair is reportedly considering doing just that, and American Airlines is already handing out Samsung Galaxy tablets to first class passengers on select flights. I say, what about the rest of us? But more importantly, what do you say?

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Published: August 24, 2011