United Drops Paper for IPads in Cockpits

United and Continental pilots will be equipped with iPads in an effort to go paperless

Yep, there’s an app for that.

United Continental Holdings lifted the veil Tuesday on a new plan to equip all United and Continental pilots with iPads in an effort to go paperless in the cockpit.

The airline is starting with 11,000 tablets that use a digital version of the same navigation charts typically printed on hundreds of sheets of paper, which means pilots can quickly access critical information.

"The introduction of iPads ensures our pilots have essential and real-time information at their fingertips at all times throughout the flight," Captain Fred Abbott, United's senior vice president of flight operations, said in a statement.

The iPads are loaded with software developed by Jeppesen, the same company that prints paper charts. Instead of waiting for paper charts to get shipped by mail, pilots can receive updated and current charts automatically over the web.

General aviation pilots have been able to use the Mobil Flight App for some time now, but United is the first major international network carrier to go paperless. In May, Alaska Airlines was the first U.S. domestic airline to start testing iPads for navigation charts and aircraft manuals. Delta Air Lines also recently started testing iPads.
Aside from being able to access information quicker, the iPads are considerably lighter than the thousands of pages of paper pilots typically have to carry.

A typical binder filled with navigation charts, aircraft manuals and performance data can weigh close to 40 pounds. United Continental says an iPad weighs only about a pound and a half.

Without all that paper, the airline hopes to save 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year, and annually save nearly 16 million sheets of paper.

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