Airlines Embrace iPad, Replace Flight Bags and Seating Charts

The iPad hasn’t even been around for two full years yet, but it’s already dominating the tablet market and changing the personal computer industry, while creeping into almost every other industry imaginable. The iPad is one of the main reasons PC sales are declining in the US. Other competitors try to come out with tablets of their own but it doesn’t seem to be working. Case in point: HP released its highly anticipated TouchPad less than three months ago, and they already discontinued it forever last week. Now this definitely has something to do with Google’s acquisition of Motorola last week, but HP cut the price multiple times to try and drive sales, but Best Buy could barely sell more than 25,000 of the 270,000 units they had in stock. Wow that sucks.

Now the iPad is taking to the sky and changing the airline industry. This week United Airlines announced that it would be purchasing 11,000 iPads for their pilots to go completely paperless, following Alaska Airlines decision to do so back in May. A new app allows the iPad to be converted into a pilot’s flight bag. Flight bag? How can an iPad replace a bag?? The pilot’s flight bag actually refers to the bag that pilots carry with them on every flight, containing paper operating manuals, navigation charts, reference handbooks, flight checklists, logbooks and weather information. This amounts to approximately 38 POUNDS, or 12,000 sheets of paper per pilot, according to

The iPad, weighing less than 1.5 pounds will not only save trees but also fuel. United Airlines estimates that switching to electronic flight bags will save around 19,000 trees each year. 38 less pounds on each of the thousands of flights UA does each year is also estimated to save an astounding 326,000 gallons of fuel each year.

British Airways is also using the iPads, but not for pilots. They recently rolled out iPads to 100 planes to be tested as customer service devices as well as to replace their paper flyer list. According to the press release, “The iPad lets crew quickly identify where each customer is seated, who they are travelling with, their Executive Club status and any special meal requests. It gives cabin crew a whole library of information at their fingertips including timetables, safety manuals and customer service updates. It also means any issues can be logged with ground-based colleagues around the network prior to departure so solutions can be delivered while the flight is airborne.”

Other airlines are testing the iPad for similar uses on their fleets, and it will be exciting to see what kind of things they do with Apple’s power tablet. There are concerns however, such as if the iPad fails, if it gets hacked, interferes with radio waves, etc. but overall, I think this is another example of how technology, and the iPad specifically, is revolutionizing an industry.

Feel free to leave any questions or comments below!

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4 thoughts on “Airlines Embrace iPad, Replace Flight Bags and Seating Charts

  1. Pingback: Aerospace in 1983: Destruction of Korean Air Lines flight 007 « Jeinrev

    • Haha right? Think of all the other uses for iPads on planes, like having an iPad for every person, replacing the flight safety instructions booklet, menu, and even the portable dvd players!

  2. Pingback: From Paper To iPad: The Evolution of Flight Manuals (via For The Joy of Technology) « Calgary Recreational and Ultralight Flying Club (CRUFC)

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