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American Airlines pilots to use iPads for flight manuals

The FAA gives approval for the airline to be the first commercial carrier to toss out its paper-based flight manuals in lieu of iPads -- saving the airline $1.2 million in gas costs.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

American Airlines will be the first commercial carrier to have all of its pilots replace their paper-based reference flying manuals with Apple's iPad.

The airline announced today that it received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to "to use the Apple iPad in the cockpit during all phases of flight."

All pilots fly with a kitbag that contains necessary flight information, navigation charts, and reference materials for when they're in the air. American is dubbing its new kitbag with the iPad an "Electronic Flight Bag." Switching from paper manuals to the iPad will save the airline $1.2 million in fuel, since the iPad is so much lighter than the 35-pound kitbag previously used by its pilots.

"With this approval from the FAA, we will be able to use iPad to fully realize the benefits of our Electronic Flight Bag program, including improving the work environment for our pilots, reducing our dependency on paper products and increasing fuel efficiency on our planes," American's vice president Captain John Hale said in a statement. "We are equipping our people with the best resources and this will allow our pilots to fly more efficiently."

American began its pilot iPad program in 2011 when the FAA approved the use of the tablet in some of its flights. As of this month, all American pilots in the 777 fleet will start using iPads; the airline hopes that all fleets will be approved for the Electronic Flight Bag program by the end of the year. American said that by 2013 it will halt all paper revisions to its manuals and navigation charts.

The program could expand to other tablets too, the airlines said, "if other tablets are approved by the FAA they will be evaluated for use."

In addition to the pilots, flight attendants might be getting iPads in the near future too. The airline has been testing how the tablet could ease attendants' workload by getting more information about customer's flight and travel needs.

"We're focused on building a new American where technology and innovation are fundamental to the company's return to industry leadership and exceptional customer service," American's chief information officer, Maya Leibman, said.