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Air Force estimates savings of $5.7M per year due to iPad use

updated 10:18 am EDT, Fri May 17, 2013

Apple tablet replaces 40-pound paper-based flight bags, maps

A move by the US Air Force last year to replace maps, charts, logs and other paperwork contained in a kit with iPads is expected to save more than $50 million over next 10 years. The 18,000 deployed iPads form an "electronic flight bag" that can hold flight manuals, weather and navigation charts and volumes of technical and procedural information -- eliminating the need for the 30- to 40-pound flight bag pilots used to have to carry with them, resulting in savings ranging from fuel costs to printing costs to even reducing pilot back injuries.

The Air Mobility Command estimates that the replacement of the heavy flight bag kits will save the service $750,000 annually in fuel alone, and not having to make new printouts of manuals as revisions or copies need to be replaced will save another $5 million per year. The cost of the iPad program, just over $9 million, will be offset in savings in around a year and a half. The 18,000 units are Wi-Fi only, 32GB versions of Apple's iPad, which were purchased at a bulk discount of around $520 per unit (a savings of about $80 each).

In an interview with The Street, Major Brian Moritz told reporter James Rogers that on a C-5 military aircraft, using the iPad instead of the traditional kit may save as much as 490 pounds in weight, which creates a noticeable savings in fuel. Currently the Air Force has around 16,000 third-generation iPads in use with the Air Mobility Command, with the remaining 2,000 deployed across other Air Force units.

The Air Force joins many commercial airlines in switching from the bulky manuals to EFBs, as the Federal Aviation Authority approves more widespread use of tablets to replace the traditional flight bag. American Airlines was the first to use the new system, but it has quickly caught on amongst the other major airlines for its obvious cost advantages.

by MacNN Staff



  1. jimoase

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-15-08

    Really ... a difference of 30...40 pounds can be measured is fuel consumption?
    A difference of 30...40 pounds can be measured in medical treatment for back injuries?

    and those costs can be tracked to use of an iPad?

    Is this the critical, deep thinking with high moral standards our mandatory attendance, government funded, ranked number 17 worldwide education system is producing these days?


    Professional Poster

    Joined: 02-23-00

    Every ounce can affect fuel usage, and the longer you travel the more it adds up. Remember there are at least 2 pilots on board as well. so that's 60-80 pounds per flight. That's almost a passenger.

    When was the last time you carried around a 40lb suitcase and tried to maneuver it though tight quarters? We're not talking about hiking equipment.

  1. psdenno

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-06-03

    Military aircraft fly with less than full fuel tanks to reduce weight and save fuel. Only enough for the mission and a safety reserve rather than full to the top on every flight. Weight, even what may appear to be insignificant weight, impacts fuel usage. Jimoase may want to limit comments to topics in which he has knowledge.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    I don't understand your point, jimoase. The simple answer, "Yes." can be applied easily to all your questions with no apparent down side. Would you like to share?

    Perhaps you're confused about the statements. Did you jump to some unseen blanket conclusion? Maybe you thought they were saying the iPad was the only cure for back problems, and gross natural resource consumption...

    We don't know. You never state your issues with the article. Therefore, a literally pointless post.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by jimoaseView Post

    Really ... a difference of 30...40 pounds can be measured is fuel consumption?

    Multiply by millions of miles travelled. Also, 'twas mentioned in TFA that the savings on a C-5 come to almost five HUNDRED pounds. Certainly a nonzero cost.

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: 11-15-06

    iPad.... What an amazing impact. MS tried but unsuccessfull. Steve Jobs had saved the day... mission completed.


    Professional Poster

    Joined: 02-23-00

    Originally Posted by Spheric HarlotView Post

    Multiply by millions of miles travelled. Also, 'twas mentioned in TFA that the savings on a C-5 come to almost five HUNDRED pounds. Certainly a nonzero cost.

    That's the extreme case though. The C-5 is an unusually large aircraft with quite a large crew. I can find reverences for anywhere between 5 and 16.

    Now imagine a much smaller plane like the 2 engine turbo props. 100lbs is much more significant when compared to total weight.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    jimoase: keep in mind that EACH pilot on a commercial aircraft had to carry those flight bags. So that's at least 60-90 pounds for a typical flight.

  1. mosestan

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-17-13

    Save money, save time, save space, save papers and save trees too... What a great save!

  1. driven

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: 05-08-01

    In the US, United did this about 2 years ago as well. They cited the same reasoning.

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