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United Airlines switching to iPads in the cockpit

Company is swapping out thousands of pages of flight manuals carried by pilots in favor of Apple's tablet. The weight drop is expected to save 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year.

An iPad in the cockpit.
An iPad in the cockpit.
United Airlines Holdings

United Airlines today announced its cockpits will go paperless by swapping out printed flight manuals in favor of Apple's iPad.

As part of the swap, the carrier is giving 11,000 iPads to all United and Continental pilots. The iPads are loaded with Jeppesen Mobile FliteDeck, an app that contains navigational charts and local airport information.

United estimates that the change from paper will save it 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year, based on the paper the iPads are replacing.

"Each iPad, which weighs less than 1.5 pounds, will replace approximately 38 pounds of paper operating manuals, navigation charts, reference handbooks, flight checklists, logbooks and weather information in a pilot's flight bag," the company said in a statement. "A conventional flight bag full of paper materials contains an average of 12,000 sheets of paper per pilot."

United says it began doling out iPads to pilots a few weeks ago and that all its pilots will have them by the end of the year.

Both Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines began testing iPads for navigational purposes earlier this year as part of a trial program. Executive Jet Management, a unit of NetJets, announced in February that it had gained approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to use Jeppesen's app as well.