American Airlines believes that by eliminating the heavy 40-pound flight bags pilots formerly were required to carry, and switching to Apple’s iPad, they are helping alleviate a common complaint among commercial pilots: back injuries.
Patrick O’Keeffe, vice president of Airline Operations Technology at American Airlines, spoke this week at the TabTimes Tablet Strategy conference in New York, where he revealed that iPads will become available to all of his company’s 8,600 pilots by the end of May.
“We’ve reduced the single biggest source of pilot injuries: carrying those packs,” O’Keeffe noted in his keynote presentation. “And we are now able to save $1 million in fuel costs and stop printing all the page revisions.”
American Airlines, who began using the iPad during all phases of flight last year, is the only carrier in the world with permission to do so. The iPad is currently the only tablet device approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for use as an electronic flight bag.
Typically, flight bags can weigh up to 40 pounds, carrying thousands of pages of charts and manuals. With their switch to digital, American will cut both printing costs, and the load pilots have to carry to and from the plane.
American Airlines does use an Android device for other aspects of flights. The company has distributed 16,000 Samsung Galaxy Notes to its crew members. Flight attendants use the devices to manage food service, seating, and to obtain up-to-the-minute gate information.