Microsoft's Surface 2 cleared for takeoff in cockpit

The tablet has been approved by the FAA for pilots use in all phases of air travel, lightening their flight bag and offering airlines an iPad alternative.

A Delta Air Lines pilot with a Surface 2
A Delta Air Lines pilot with a Surface 2 Delta Air Lines

Microsoft's Surface 2 has officially won Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for all phases of air travel, the company announced on Monday.

The FAA's authorization covers classes one and two for the Electronic Flight Bag. Historically, pilots have brought with them on flights a full flight bag consisting of everything from reference documents to checklists to carts. All of that paper used fuel on planes, prompting Delta last year to opt to deploy the Surface 2 to Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 pilots. Pilots of other airplanes will be added this year.

At launch last year, the Surface 2 didn't have full approval to be used for all flight phases, creating a hybrid of sorts between Microsoft's slate and the paper, depending on the flight phase. Both companies said last year that they expected the FAA to approve the Surface 2 this year. Still, airlines must get approval before they can move forward with using a tablet.

"While airlines are still obligated to define their specific use requirements with the FAA and request specific device approval, our completion of these tests for Surface 2 satisfies a lengthy and important part of that authorization process," Microsoft said in a statement.

In September 2012, American Airlines received approval from the FAA to use the Apple iPad in the cockpit during all phases of flight, making it the first commercial carrier to have all of its pilots replace their paper-based reference flying manuals with a tablet.

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