Business

06.28.13

Airline Pilots Ditch Charts and Paperwork for iPads to Save Money and Fuel

Many airlines are getting rid of old-fashioned paper flying manuals in favor of iPads, which can hold all the information a pilot might need in a quarter-inch thick device. Miranda Green reports.

You’ve heard of paper airplanes. Now there are paperless airplanes.

Airplane pilots are going paperless in a new push to save time, money, and energy. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that multiple airlines are doing away with old-fashioned paper flying manuals in exchange for the sleek and lighter design of an iPad, which can hold all the information a pilot might need in a quarter-inch thick device.

JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines, and United Airlines are among the many airlines whose pilots currently utilize or plan to use iPads. The largest Apple iPad integrator so far is United Continental Holdings, whose 10,000 pilots were required to start using iPads in April.

American Airlines has converted most of its 8,000 pilots to paperless operators and estimates that it has eliminated 3,000 pages of paper per pilot. The company hopes the change will lessen the weight load for not only the pilots, but the planes. The airline figures that by removing the up to 35 pounds of manuals previously found in a cockpit, aircraft can save about 400,000 gallons of fuel annually. That’s about $1.2 million worth of gas.

Airplane engineers have also acknowledged the need to consider sustainability and energy in the modernization of aircraft. Earlier this month Airbus announced the winning idea for its biannual student competition. The first-place design proposes utilizing an airstream to move luggage into a plane’s cargo compartment to eliminate friction and cut down on time.