Revolutionising the Cockpit
In a first amongst the larger carriers, United Airlines has broken tradition and chosen a modern form of electronic flight bag (EFB) by means of an Apple Ipad for pilots to replace the tried and true paper airport charts, maps and manuals usually carried in the flight bag. United has finalised a deal with Apple to supply 11,000 Ipads for all United and Continental Pilots which will replace the volumes of manuals and charts they normally carry. The use of one lightweight device to replace several volumes of manuals and charts has many significant advantages, six of which are detailed below.
Apple Ipads for Pilots, Advantages for the environment
Depending on the airline, pilots can carry around 40 lb’s of paper in their flight bag in the form of Operation Manuals, Route Manuals, Airways charts and others. Some airlines that carry a ships library will reduce the weight in their cockpits by around 150lb’s. It is fairly obvious that eliminating the need for this much paper would considerably reduce the number of trees required to be cut down. Also consider that these manuals are not set and forget. All of these manuals need to be updated on a regular basis resulting in more paper, in fact the Jepperson approach charts are updated every fortnight so the paper savings are measurably significant. UA have stated this will save almost 16 million sheets of paper which is equivalent to more than 1,900 trees.
The second advantage to the environment is due once again to the weight savings created by the removal of paper documents and manuals from the cockpit. Basically the more weight an aircraft carries on any particular flight, the more fuel it will burn in order to get there. So conversely if the weight of an aircraft is reduced the less fuel it will burn. This fuel saving not only reduces the operating costs for the airline but also conserves fossile fuels and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. UA have quoted they will save 326,00 gallons of fuel per year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3,208 metric tons.
Advantages for the Pilot
The removal of clutter! A tidy workplace is mandatory regardless of your occupation and the cockpit of an aircraft is no exception. On any approach for example a pilot will require a number of different charts to facilitate the safe arrival to the airport. At a minimum he or she will require an arrival chart, an approach chart and a taxi chart. Instead of having three charts positioned at different locations within the pilots view, with the ipad it is simply a matter of swiping between the required charts.
Expandability! At some stage in our careers most pilots will need some sort of eye correction, reading glasses probably the most common. Interpreting small approach charts particularly at night or when tired becomes difficult as they are harder to see. A brilliant function of the ipad allows pilots to expand a particular chart just as you can with photos to obtain a much clearer and detailed view of the chart. Personally I believe this is the most important feature from a pilots perspective.
Here is an Aerodrome Chart at Tokyo’s Narita Airport.
Notice how difficult it is to determine the taxiway designators.
Now take a look at an expanded view on the Apple Ipad
The chart can now be seen more easily and and with a great deal more clarity making it easier for the pilot to have situational awareness and reducing the chances of making a mistake. Pilots are given instructions from ground controllers to taxi the aircraft on set taxiways to avoid other aircraft to get to their parking bay or departure runway. As an example a pilot may be instructed to taxi via: Alpha (A), Whiskey 8 (W8), Bravo (B), Kilo (K) Sierra 4 (S4). Now try and follow that on the top chart.
Fast Search Options. All pdf readers on the ipad for pilots have a search function. Now with all the company manuals stored on the one device the time to find any piece of information is greatly reduced. There are times when it is advantageous for a pilot to find some information quickly and this is where the ipad search function excels. It is also convenient having them all stored in the one place.
One final advantage I would like to mention regarding the ipad for pilots is another benefit of weight reduction. With all paper manuals removed from a pilots flight bag the chance of injury is also significantly reduced. Cockpits of airliners, even the larger aircraft are relatively small in size. Manoeuvring a heavy flight bag into postion, especially for the co pilots seat requires bending of the back and stretching to accomplish. This has resulted in back injuries which can end a pilots career instantaneously and the company will lose one of it’s trained pillots.
The Apple Ipad for pilots is a fantastic tool with numerous benefits and advantages for airlines, pilots and the environment alike, I would hope that eventually all companies will introduce them into the cockpit and reap the benefits of this amazing device.