The FAA has now approved the introduction of iPads on mainstream flights in the US, as American Airlines begin to take off using the tablet this Friday 16 December.
The move means that pilots will no longer have to wade through the bulky flight manual and should make for much-improved navigation of the relevant text. The iPad has been going through tests with both American Airlines and Alaskan Airlines to make sure that the software, as well as the device, is completely reliable.
Now that it has the go-ahead further implementation can be expected on more airlines, as a source stated to ZDNet: "Pilots will use iPads as electronic chart and digital flight manual readers. The airline will begin iPad operations on B-777 aircraft, and then implement across all other fleets. By using electronic charts and manuals, the safety and efficiency on the flight deck is significantly enhanced."
There is, however, an obvious point to make regarding the pilots use and the restricted use of such devices that passengers experience: why the apparent disparity? Clearly pilots using these electronic devices close to sensitive equipment constitutes just as much a hazard as passenger usage.
However it may be that limited use, pilot and co-pilot, is safe whereas the unlimited free-for-all of iPads and Kindles that would ensue amongst hundreds of passengers could act as a risk.
Still, we wouldn't be surprised that on the basis of this move, some further relaxation of rules governing the use of electronic equipment might follow.