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After receiving FAA approval, JetBlue began handing out iPads to its 2,500 pilots in a bid to transition toward a paperless cockpit.
The iPad-packing pilots will be able to download weather imagery, and use several apps to access other digital documents on performance, as well as weight and balance needs.
JetBlue trialed the fourth-generation 16GB Wi-Fi-enabled custom iPads with some 60 pilots, and as it is distributing the devices to the rest of its pilot corps, the airline is studying whether to add digital-charting capabilities, too.
JetBlue won approval about 10 years ago for pilots to use laptops in the cockpit for Electronic Flight Bags, but now believes that its new Ka-Band satellite Wi-Fi, which is currently being installed, will offer new capabilities for the iPads and pilots.
While JetBlue argues that the iPads in the cockpits will save on fuel costs because bulky, paper manuals would become obsolete, let’s hope the airline keeps a few around in case its satellite-based Wi-Fi conks out or the performance is less than optimal.
That’s not an uncommon occurrence for passengers trying to access airlines’ Wi-Fi.
iPads and other mobile devices are on the way to becoming commonplace for pilots and flight attendants, too, as they process ancillary sales and monitor inventory.