From Social Security to hospitals, the shift from paper to
digital record-keeping and billing is occurring everywhere, but there are still
many major industries that are consuming
more than their fair share of paper.
A perhaps unexpected place you'll find a lot of paper is the cockpit of an airplane. Despite all the high tech equipment and monitors on today's flight decks, pilots have still been expected to consult paper-based flight manuals. These manuals typically consist of 2 to 3 huge volumes of material that are estimated to weigh over 40 pounds. When there is a change to policies and procedures, the books must be thrown away and new ones printed.
In recent years, the airlines have been at odds with the FAA over transitioning to a digital version of the manuals. Finally, one airline has succeeded in convincing the FAA to allow the change.
American Airlines has introduced the iPad Electronic Flight Bag, which condenses the hefty manual into an easy-to-download app. The airline will have both the pilot and co-pilot equipped with their own iPads with the app pre-installed. To ensure that the manual will always be at the ready, the issued iPads are outfitted with special batteries with 24-hour lifespans.
To get the approval, American Airlines had to show proof that the iPads could withstand rapid decompression in the event of an emergency. They were also required to put their iPads through a series of tests under the supervision of the FAA. Currently, the FAA has given the nod to the use of the iPads on 777, 737 and MD-80 aircraft with 757 and 767 models expected to be approved soon.
There's hope that now that American Airlines has succeeded in gaining approval, the other major airlines will be able to follow suit, making the cockpits in all our planes completely paperless.