The Federal Aviation Administration (FFA) has approved American Airlines pilots to use an Apple iPad during critical phases of flight. Critical phases of flight includes takeoffs and landings. The approval is effective starting this Friday.
American Airlines has been testing iPads during other phases of flight for about six months. For now, the approval is limited to pilots flying Boeing 777’s.
According to the New York Times, the FAA stated that pilots can only have two iPads in a cockpit. One for each pilot. The iPads will replace up to 50 pounds of paperwork, according to sources. The information, currently contained in flight manuals, navigation charts, and other reference materials, is consolidated and organized on the iPad.
In addition to the iPad storing reference materials, it can also be used for navigation. “The ability to have a backlit screen with a map on it that can be panned and zoomed really significantly increases the safety aspect of taxiing an airliner on the ground,” Captain Hank Putek told AFP. He also said that it helps during foul weather approaches, because the pilot can zoom and pan the approach chart as the iPad tracks the plane’s exact position in the air.
Flyers are being told that there is not a concern about pilots being distracted by the iPad’s entertainment features, as it will not be connected to Wi-Fi or the Internet during flight. This approval will also not affect restrictions on passengers’ use of electronic devices during flights, they will still not be allowed.
While American Airlines is the first to be granted approval, other airlines are expected to follow. Alaska Airlines currently uses iPads during non-critical phases of flight.