updated 04:55 pm EDT, Tue August 16, 2011
Delta begins tablet tests for use by pilots
Delta Air Lines is now using 22 iPads as part of a test to communicate with its pilots. The tablets are used as electronic flight bags (EFBs) during trips, with all loaded with an identical software suite that can be further customized with other apps. Pilots also have access to their Delta e-mail account and calendar.
The preloaded software includes the Jeppesen Mobile TC charting software, a GoodReader document viewer that contains all of Delta's manuals in an electronic format, and the Journey browser with access to iCrew. There is also a Delta Meteorology app that shows pilot-tailored graphical weather data and real-time looped Delta radar.
Other included software is made up of a writing app for notes, an Atomic web browser, a PDF viewer, a Wi-Fi finder app, and crew rest and cruise rest period calculators.
The point of the program is to see if the tablets are efficient at remaining constantly in touch with its pilots. The airline has teamed with Gogo to offer Wi-Fi onboard of the planes.
"We can use a tablet device to transform our training and eliminate different operating system limitations," said Delta senior vice-president of flight operations Steve Dickson. "Our IROP [irregular operations] recovery time will decrease with instant communication capability."
When its iPad testing is complete, Delta will switch to 16 Motorola Xooms sometime in mid-September. A third tablet option is also being evaluated. The criteria calls for a device that is user friendly to any pilot, no matter how tech savvy or lacking. About 50 evaluation pilots are divided into three groups for testing each product. Testers can use them during pre-flight and above 10,000 feet but only for operational purposes.
In February, the FAA approved the iPad for use in flights, with Executive Jet Management the first company to use the device. Testing has also taken place at Alaska Airlines and American Airlines. [via FlightGlobal]