The long awaited, previously announced iPad Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) has finally been approved for most of our airplanes at the company. In fact, we’re the first U.S. airline to receive FAA approval for the use of the iPad as a replacement for all of our paper Jeppesen approach plates.
The process started in 2007 when we were allowed to use laptops to hold our company manuals. This meant we could leave three to four manuals at home that weighed about ten pounds. When the iPad came on the scene, we were allowed to use it as an alternative to the laptop. That left only our “Jepps,” two to three large manuals that weighed even more than the company books, for us to lug around.
Some airlines went a different route, investing in a built-in laptop solution called a Class II EFB that included Jepp support. This 2009 cockpit video by Gadling shows how Virgin America deployed that solution.
Later, our company worked with Jeppesen and the FAA to offer an iPad that would be provided to every pilot and a RAM mount that stays in the aircraft. In addition, the company also provided us with a Hypermac backup battery that’s capable of extending the life of the iPad for an additional 24 hours.
Since both pilots will be carrying an iPad, coupled with the extended batteries, the FAA feels this is as redundant as the regular manuals.
A few weeks ago we saw our first mounts in our MD-80, so I felt a video tour might explain how the setup works and just what it replaces.
So far American has approval for the 777, 737, MD-80 and is just awaiting approval for the 757/767 fleet. Hopefully, this will be just in time for my return to that airplane, as once you use this setup, you won’t want to go back to the paper.
To get that approval, American had to have the iPad tested in a hypobaric chamber to simulate how the device would handle during a rapid decompression. They also had to arrange for mount testing with the FAA, which is ironic since our manuals weigh far more than the iPad and aren’t secured in place. Many takeoffs have resulted in a book or two sliding off the side table and onto the floor.
Next up on the list are the reams of dot matrix printed paperwork we take with us on the flights that I covered in a previous video. Once that is accomplished, and weather is incorporated into the iPad, we can finally claim to be flying in the seemingly mythical “paperless cockpit” that has long been the goal since sometime just after the Wright Brothers took to the air and discovered how difficult it was to fold up their maps in the open cockpit.
[Photo/Video credit: Kent Wien]
Related: “Cockpit Chronicles: Paper Makes an Airplane Fly”
“Cockpit Chronicles” takes you along on some of Kent’s trips as a
captain co-pilot on the MD-80 757 and 767 based in New York. Have any questions for Kent? Check out the “Cockpit Chronicles” Facebook page or follow Kent on Twitter @veryjr.