Paperless Airplane Cockpits
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - American airline Delta is to equipping 11,000 of its pilots with social innovation in an attempt to get rid of paper by giving them Microsoft Surface 2 tablets. The Surface 2 runs the Windows RT 8.1 platform, will provide crews with key charts and navigation tools via a customised app. The tablets will replace the 17kg (2st 10lb) flight bags currently carried by pilots, reducing fuel consumption. The weight of flight bags has been an industry issue for a while now.
Delta expects all its cockpits to be paperless by the end of 2014 and has equipped 19,000 of its flight attendants with Nokia Lumia 820 smartphones this August, which run on a Windows operating system. It did tested Apple’s iPads as potential Electronic Flight Bags (EFB) but has instead embraced Microsoft devices. Many commercial airlines now use tablets as EFBs, and the devices are even common among single-seat, or recreational pilots.
Traditionally pilots take on board heavy 'flight bags' containing all the information they need to safely fly the aircraft and holds thousands of documents, including aircraft and system manuals, maps, tech logs, weight and balance sheets. Plus details of what cargo is being carried on board and of the passengers. Along with weather maps, details of the arrival and departure airports, and possible conflicts en route.
The Surface tablets will minimise time spent looking for flight information and allow pilots the opportunity for greater situational awareness in the air and on the ground. The tablets will feature a custom-built app called FliteDeck Pro, developed by aerospace technology company Jeppesen, a subsidiary of Boeing. They will contain thousands of electronic documents, charts, navigational aids, checklists and other key reference materials.
Delta pilots had been using their own tablet devices in the cockpit, but now only the Surface 2 will be allowed. Delta has said that crews will be allowed to run personal applications on the Surface 2, as long as they use a separate profile. Delta will roll out the device to pilots on its Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 fleets later this year, subject to approval by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The airline estimates the weight reduction resulting from the switch to a paperless cockpit will reduce fuel usage by 1.2 million gallons per year - leading to a reduction in carbon emissions of 26 million pounds (12 million kg). On another note American airline passengers may soon be able to text, e-mail and use iPods, Kindles and other electronic devices during take-off and landing. A FAA advisory panel will be recommending how it the airlines here could expand the use of personal electronic devices during flights.
Photo Credit: Delta Airlines