Alaska Airlines is now giving iPads to all of its pilots to replace 25 pounds of flight manuals. "We've been exploring the idea of an electronic flight bag for several years, but never found a device we really liked," said Gary Beck, Alaska Airlines' vice president of flight operations. "When the iPad hit the market, we took one look at it and said this is the perfect fit." By mid-June, all of the airline's pilots will have iPads. The airline is also exploring using the iPad to replace paper aeronautical charts. The airline said the iPad will eventually eliminate up to 50 pounds of paper per cockpit, saving on fuel costs and reducing back and muscle injuries to overloaded pilots.
The airline's decision follows a successful trial by 100 line and instructor pilots and Air Line Pilots Association representatives, who evaluated the feasibility of using iPads as electronic flight bags this past winter and spring. The iPads contain an app called GoodReader that is loaded with PDF versions of 41 flight, systems and performance manuals, reference cards, and other materials. The electronic manuals include hyperlinks and color graphics, enabling pilots to find information faster and easier, the airline said. Updating can now be accomplished with one tap on the iPad screen instead of the labor-intensive process of replacing individual pages one by one. The iPad is considered a Class 1 electronic device, meaning it is stowed during takeoff and landing under FAA regulations. In February, the FAA OK'd the iPad as a replacement for paper aeronautical charts for Executive Jet.