Manuals are a fact of flight. Where there's an airplane or aircraft of any kind, flight manuals can be found on board. It's just a safety precaution that planes within the U.S. have to abide by. But, that flight manual doesn't have to be the paper kind. It also doesn't have to weigh a lot or take up a lot of space.
Recently, the U.S. Air Force switched from heavy paper flight manuals to iPads. This move saved the Air Force a ton of money. How much money? Around $50 million over the next ten years. That's significant.
Other Savings Too
Not only will the new iPads save the Air Force money when it comes to printing the materials, the iPads will weigh a lot less than paper manuals. This will save the Air Force $750,000 in fuel alone. That's huge, and it's also money that the Air Force can use elsewhere. When it comes to saving money, the Air Force can't save enough. iPads are the answer to cost effectiveness.
How much can a flight manual weigh? The iPads can save up to 250 pounds on a 4-person C-17, but the amount of weight manuals take up depends on the type of airplane, of course. Still, the savings is significant any way you slice it. So, why haven't commercial airlines moved to iPads?
iPads for All Planes?
The AMC recently won a $9.2 million contract to purchase 18,000 third generation WiFi-only iPads. This contract certainly helps with costs a bit. Commercial airlines would have to put the money up front, and it would be a significant cost for bigger airlines.
So what about all that hype about tablets causing planes to malfunction and crash? Well, the Air Force doesn't see it that way, apparently. Really, the tablets aren't causing any kind of interference at all. In fact, using a tablet makes accessing flight information simpler, and that's a great thing. Plus, it's hard to ignore that fuel savings. Will commercial airlines be adopting tablets too?
A Long Wait
It could be a longer time before commercial airlines adopt tablets. But, the fact that the Air Force has purchased iPads is certainly encouraging. If iPads are good enough for the Air Force, commercial airlines might soon adopt iPads as well. Only time will tell, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.
The only drawback here is that an iPad can crash or run out of batteries. This could be a problem if flight information is needed but can't be accessed. Then again, the Air Force will be sure to make certain that all tablets are charged and ready to go pre-flight. So, really, this isn't much of a concern at all. Commercial airlines would, likely, have a backup iPad or two as well (which is probably the case with the Air Force too).
What do you think? Are iPads a step in the right direction? Are they the way to go for the future of flight? Or, is it too risky? Sound off below!