Aircraft manufacturer Boeing is attempting to move navigational practices into the digital age with its newest policy: advising pilots to carry iPads in the cockpit instead of paper.
The reason? Traditionally, pilots have had to carry around volumes of different maps and manuals, which can be cumbersome and confusing to use. But with the ease of the iPad — and a new generation of pilots familiar with its use — the whole process of navigation is faster and safer.
Apparently, some companies have already taken the initiative. United Continental Holdings Inc. has purchased 11,000 of the hand held devices, which are manufactured by Apple Inc., for its pilots. Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines no longer even uses paper manuals, instead opting for iPads.
Boeing’s charting unit, Jeppesen provides the electronic charts, instrument procedures, and airport diagrams needed for the shift to the iPad. Its application (or “app”) is available for a simple download from Apple’s store, iTunes, giving pilots all the information they need in the cockpit. Charts are updated are updated online, cutting down on the need to constantly replace old written instructions with new ones.
Jeppesen is planning to add a similar application for Android devices soon. The company already has more customers than any other provider of information for navigation and programs for flight training. Its resources are widely used not only by pilots, but also sailors and railway operators.
Sherry Carbary, the vice president for flight services at Boeing Commercial Aviation Services, seems confident that the newest technology can help the industry. In particular she cites how easy it is to utilize the iPad for multiple issues: for example, pilots can not only use it for navigation, but on the job training during flights.
She also notes how convenient the iPad is for transportation; aside from its use in the airplane cockpit, the small device can be carried around with much more ease than a stack of paper maps and manuals. This means that pilots can bring their important data to be studied at home or in their hotel rooms between fights.