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FAA Permits American Airlines To Use iPads In Cockpit "In All Phases of Flight" 372

Posted by timothy
from the especially-the-angry-birds-phase dept.
hypnosec writes "American Airlines has announced that it has received permission from FAA to allow its pilots to use iPads in the cockpit during 'all phases of flight.' According to the airlines, the tablet will enable pilots to store documentation in electronic form on the iPad which otherwise weighs 15.876 kg (35 pounds) when in printed form. Use of the digital documentation will enable the airlines to save as much as U.S. $1.2 million of fuel each year." That number sounds both awfully low and awfully specific.
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FAA Permits American Airlines To Use iPads In Cockpit "In All Phases of Flight"

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  • What happens if the iPad battery fails, it's not charged, there's a bug in the software, the documentation gets hacked and changes, etc? Resilience Engineering dictates that if something can fail then it will and you'd better have a backup plan. Last time I checked paper didn't run out of power, doesn't get hacked, may have a typo, but certainly doesn't have the myriad of possible failure points that a piece of hardware has.

    • by Desler (1608317) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:01PM (#41300807)

      If the iPad is not charged then obviously they... plug it into the outlet i the cockpit and charge it. And how exactly is their offline documentation going to get 'hacked'? And how would it be any more of a problem then someone maliciousy changing their printed documents?

    • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:12PM (#41300995)

      The backup plan is you ask the ATC. Ask a pilot. Even "couple hours training" noob like myself knows that. Its considered extremely bad form to tell the ATC "I'm too Fing lazy to look up the approach plate, whats the ILS freq again?" but if you have an equipment breakdown they have procedures and policies in place for generations now to help you out.

      As for plane docs, it doesn't really matter as long as the ipad is highly reliable. You use the same checklist over and over to make sure you don't forget anything... its 99.999% good without a checklist (literally) so once or twice is no big deal.

      There is some truth that the ipad will probably be more up to date and less likely to have a page torn out or coffee dumped on it than paper. It'll likely be more reliable as a system, even if it doesn't degrade smoothly.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by hawguy (1600213)

        As for plane docs, it doesn't really matter as long as the ipad is highly reliable.

        I don't think any Avionics expert would call the iPad "highly reliable".

        You use the same checklist over and over to make sure you don't forget anything... its 99.999% good without a checklist (literally) so once or twice is no big deal.

        I've never heard that the iPad gives 5 9's of reliability.

        But assuming that it is, it's that .0001% of the time when the iPad is not available that is the problem. The pilot goes through the identical checklist on every single flight, then that one time the iPad won't boot, he has to play it by ear, change his routine, and hope that he didn't miss anything. That's what causes accidents and is why there is a checklist in the first place.

        • I'd rather have my pilot try to decipher an emergency checklist on a torn up page than stare at his reflection in a blank iPad screen.

          I still have paper documentation in my datacenter that tells me how to recover key servers because I know that technology sometimes fails, despite redundant safeguards.

          I'd rather he stare at his reflection and then contact the ATC than spend his time attempting to decipher an emergency checklist. The problem would come when he found that he had the wrong checklist loaded, and didn't notice until he was already part way through it (pretty unlikely, but not impossible).

        • by cwebster (100824) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:58PM (#41301717)

          The checklists shouldn't be going anywhere. Disclaimer: I dont fly for AA, but I did fly for another airline. The pilots carry docs and the plane carries docs. The plane should have at least 2 checklists and a quick reference handbook, in printed form, in the cockpit. The checklists cover all normal procedures for all phases of flight. The QRH has all of the abnormal checklists. The absolutely vital emergency procedures are printed also in the QRH but the primary source is the pilots memory (things that need to be accomplished ASAP before there is time to consult the book).

          What the electronic flight bag (EFB) is going to replace is the junk the pilots carry. My flight bag had 2 2" binders full of nothing but approach plates, a 1" binder with our hub airport approach plates in it, a 1" foldout thing with all of the enroute maps, a 1" binder with the company flight ops (essentially 14 CFR 121 plus whatever opspecs the airline has approval for), a 2" binder with procedures and checklists (serves as backup for the checklists and QRH that the airplane carries), a 2" binder with our collective bargaining agreement in it. Not carried was another 2" binder that were all of the details of the aircraft systems, it was not required to be carries and there just wasnt room for it. The EFB replaces all of that into a tablet form factor.

          On a typical flight the only things in that bag that get touched are the high enroute chart I need, the airport diagram and company page for the departure airport and the approach plate, airport diagram and company page for the arrival airport. The checklist used is the laminated one that belongs to the airplane. If there is an abnormal, the QRH belonging to the airplane is consulted (in conjunction with other docs on the airplane: the MEL book and the logbook).

      • That sort of works, but not as well as you might like. I had an Ipad with my charts on it overhead during an instrument departure from a busy Los Angeles area airport. Frequencies are very crowded, things happening quickly, no time to ask again at what DME should I change course. I had paper charts as a backup and was very glad to have them.

        I'm not saying its a terrible idea, but the "contact ATC" backup just doesn't work as well as you might think.

        For an airliner, the best bet would be for each pilot to h

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I totally agree... During an 8 month trip through India & central Asia you won't believe how many travellers I seen who had a nifty kindle/tablet with their travel-guides and maps. Oh the smug faces and hipster-glasses in those LP-reccomended espresso-bars...
      Until the battery is empty or the device cant bear the heat/mechanical stress/dust/moist air any longer and all the sudden they have no clue where they are or how to get back.
      They are handy, but I would advise everyone to keep a dead-tree-version at
      • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:44PM (#41301495) Homepage

        Which is why you can spot the poseurs easily. real travelers have a standard GPS that uses AA or AAA batteries. I have a garmin foretrex on me for navigation. get to airport? mark waypoint. get to hotel? mark waypoint. batteries die? who cares, either insert the spare set I have or buy a set at any store or road side stand.

        My survival bag has one as well, I can go 2 weeks on a single set of lithium AA batteries. so 2 sets will last longer than I will in a survival situation. Far more useful than a compass and a map that is probably useless (I have yet to meet any hiking or backpacker with a useful map, most have the crap one the park hands you.)

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      What happens if the iPad battery fails, it's not charged,

      Presumably multiple members of the flight crew will each have an iPad or equivalent, and there will probably be a charging port available (regular power outlet).

      there's a bug in the software, the documentation gets hacked and changes, etc?

      Not net connected iPads likely. Pretty standard systems hardening for the machines you plug them into.

      Last time I checked paper didn't run out of power, doesn't get hacked, may have a typo, but certainly doesn't have the myriad of possible failure points that a piece of hardware has.

      I lol'd so hard I nearly spilled my afternoon coffee on the book in front of me. Paper fails all the time. It sticks, it tears, the ink fades, stuff gets spilled on it, it accrues crud from your hands on it, and it suffers the same problem of an

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Hate to break it to you, but the paper charts have been relegated to the role of backup for the longest time. Flight management computers have the same information as those paper charts, that's how a B747 can execute a category III landing. I fly (well, rent actually) a DA40, and when I'm flying the whole purpose of me having my chart open is because it's easier to find the frequency I need from that chart than having to twist, push, twist, push from the Garmin G1000 panel.

      I'm sure these guys carry all thos

      • by cwebster (100824)

        Sit inside an airline cockpit once in a while, the majority of planes cannot do what a G1000 can.

        Charts absolutely are used. On an approach, both pilots will have the approach plate (paper or otherwise) open and able to reference during the procedure.

        The FMS, btw, is not why a B747 can execute a cat III landing. The aspects to that include crew certification (have to do a bunch of stuff in a sim to get certified), crew training (special procedures between the pilot flying and pilot not flying to setup the

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      The airplane explodes. It's a requirement of homeland security and the TSA. if the pilots iPAd malfunctions in any way, just to be sure it was not an act of terrorism they activate self destruct.

  • Specific? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:48AM (#41300599)

    Is it just the 15.875 kg that sounds "awfully specific"? Because this is American Airlines, so the actual number is the nice round 35 pounds.

    • So the map kits they carry and distribute to thousands of pilots have to be weighted for UPS, and so forth. They know the weight, down to the sheet count, wrapper, etc.

      If they know what it takes for a fleet average to carry x pounds, which is pretty easily determined, then the weight of the parcels times the pilots/copilots, and even extra pilots (ever notice that fat attache case they carry?) can be easily translated to projected carriage/fuel cost.

      Ye gawds.

      • by stillnotelf (1476907) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:25PM (#41301219)

        and even extra pilots (ever notice that fat attache case they carry?)

        Not sure if serious...

        • Deadheading pilots (not the fans of Jerry Garcia, but those just going home or to another destination) carry a large black brief with maps and stuff, usually on a wheelie cart. Why? Maps aren't built into most planes for pilot use. They use paper. Except now, AA wants to use iPads and got permission.

          • I'm ok with them storing maps on iPads in lieu of not storing paper maps on the plane. I was going to get a little concerned about them storing extra pilots in attache cases. I mean, coach class seats are pretty small, but an attache case...
    • Re:Specific? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:19PM (#41301109) Homepage

      What I wanna know is: If saving a few pounds adds up to so much fuel then why aren't they weighing passengers and charging them accordingly? How come an extra bag costs me $50 but the 350lb guy pays the same fare as a 120lb guy?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        A fat book cannot hire a lawyer.

      • Re:Specific? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ibwolf (126465) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:40PM (#41301447)

        What I wanna know is: If saving a few pounds adds up to so much fuel then why aren't they weighing passengers and charging them accordingly? How come an extra bag costs me $50 but the 350lb guy pays the same fare as a 120lb guy?

        The paper manuals are not likely to complain, boycott or sue for discrimination. That's why.

      • by jandrese (485)
        Do you really want to go down that road? The one that leads you to having to weigh you and your carry-on and get charged by its weight when you board? And if you check your bags they get charged by weight as well, making it impossible to know how much the flight costs until you are actually on the plane.

        Most people miss the days when they weren't getting charged for every damn thing they do near or on the plane, even if it did mean higher ticket prices up front.
      • by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @01:16PM (#41302025)

        STOP GIVING THEM IDEAS!

      • How come an extra bag costs me $50 but the 350lb guy pays the same fare as a 120lb guy?

        Because the really don't want a bunch of 350Lb guys pissed off at them.

  • Not too suprising (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pikoro (844299) <{hs.tini} {ta} {tini}> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:48AM (#41300603) Homepage Journal

    Have you ever seen the reams and reams of paper in 3 ring binders that comprise the low and high route maps that a pilot must have on hand, as well as the approach plates needed to do a proper landing?

    No reason this should be restricted to apple products as an android tablet would work just as well to view pdf files, but still, very reasonable savings estimate.

    • by Pikoro (844299)

      Bad form to reply to yourself I know, but what about keeping approach plates and such on a kindle? No real battery issues that way.

    • by necro81 (917438)

      No reason this should be restricted to apple products as an android tablet would work just as well to view pdf files, but still, very reasonable savings estimate.

      Yes and no. I believe the holdup has been more on the hardware side - particularly electromagnetic compatibility - than on the software side. AA, Apple, and perhaps the aircraft mfgs have done the extra legwork in testing to demonstrate that 1) the iPad is reasonably immune to interference in an aircraft setting (because it is just a reader, an

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      No reason this should be restricted to apple products as an android tablet would work just as well to view pdf files, but still, very reasonable savings estimate.

      For basic documentatoin, yes, it's just PDFs (there are people selling subscriptoins to PDF plates).

      Though, it appears that Apple actually got approval on the battery for iPad use in the cockpit [apple.com] (AC 120-76, which applies to airliner operations), which is why it's the iPad and not some random Android tablet.

      Non-airliner operations often have better

    • by cwebster (100824) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @01:18PM (#41302057)

      No reason this should be restricted to apple products as an android tablet would work just as well to view pdf files, but still, very reasonable savings estimate.

      You dont know the FAA then. I have two headsets, a Bose X and a Lightspeed Zulu. Both have the same 1/4" plugs and the slightly smaller one for the mic, both transmit the audio to the headset, both have (various degrees of) noisecancelling microphones, both use active noise cancellation.

      But.... one has been shown to conform to a technical standards order (TSO) and one has not. So I can wear one of them at work, and one of them I cannot. All the TSO is btw is some standards on how the headset performs in certain situations, but the mfgr has to pay for the testing and certification. Both headsets work great, in fact the non-TSO one works better, but since word came down that we were not authorized to use non-TSO equipment, I cant wear it.

      Its entirely plausible that apple has gone through a special certification process, and others have not. Typical of the FAA the certification is restricted to specific models, so you couldnt do something like certify "android", you would have to certify a specific hardware model with a specific version of the android OS.

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:48AM (#41300605)

    Unless safety never was an issue.

    • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:57AM (#41300733) Journal

      Unless safety never was an issue.

      Ding ding ding ding ding!!!

      We have a WINNER!!!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by msauve (701917)
      There's a difference between having 1 or 2 devices under direct control of the flight crew powered up, and having a hundred devices over which they have only marginal control. And, can you imagine the pissing and moaning which would follow if the FAA said "iPads are OK" for public use, but nothing else.
  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:48AM (#41300611)

    According to the airlines, the tablet will enable pilots to store documentation in electronic form on the iPad which otherwise weighs 15.875 kg (35 pounds) when in printed form.

    That's great, as long as the documentation in question isn't actually vital or particularly important. I'd hate to think of a pilot realizing his iPad is running low on power just when he needs critical info...or realizing that some things are still a lot better on a printed page (like a big fold-out schematic). "Mayday...I'm going down because the airline decided to save a buck by converting our fuel system diagram to a fucking app!...over."

    • by Coz (178857) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:54AM (#41300687) Homepage Journal

      It's the rolling bags of charts they have to carry with them whenever they fly. There are regulations that specify what charts they have to carry; all in all, a "Jep Bag" is about 35 pounds, and both pilots carry one. If they're using a Electronic Flight Bag app for the iPad, that's a pretty straightforward conversion of mass and very specific savings.

      • by OzPeter (195038)

        It's the rolling bags of charts they have to carry with them whenever they fly. There are regulations that specify what charts they have to carry;

        I think the point the OP was trying to make could be summed up as:

        You can rip the charts in two and you can still use them,
        But if you break an iPad in two then it is unusable as a chart.

        I know that planes have glass cockpits nowadays, but they still also have basic analog backup instruments as well, so this change is effectively transferring the charts from one class of tool to another (analog to digital). But as IANACP I don't know how this change affects flight safety. Presumably the FAA does know the answer to this.

      • I'm assuming that AA has or will have Wi-Fi installed at the gates for this and that the pilots will sync the iPads as they get from station to station. I see a couple of neat possibilities:

        - Immediate and instant update of flight charts and manual pages. Instead of the pilots (hundreds or even thousands!) having to update pages/plates in their Jepp books and other manuals - a very ardous and regular task that everyone has to be compliant on - you can send out updates instantly. The whole company can be ins

    • Thats ok just wait for the new Airbus A390 that enables fly by USB :)
    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      So you are assuming they put an iPad into the cockpit but didn't think of a charger? Besides, both pilot and co-pilot will almost certainly be carrying one, and they might even have a backup onboard just in case. Probably be a lot easier to find important information as well: 35 pounds is a few thousand pages at least, and flipping through that in the confines of a cockpit is probably a major PITA.

    • by multipartmixed (163409) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:06PM (#41300905) Homepage

      I'd hate to think of a pilot realizing his iPad is running low on power just when he needs critical info..

      I'd hate to think of a pilot realizing his fuel tank is running low on fuel just when he needs to perform a critical maneuver (like not crash).

      I wonder how the heck they solved that problem?!?!?!

    • by Desler (1608317)

      You realize they've had power outlets in the cockpits for quite some time, right? Oh no! How will the pilot ever figure out how to plugin a power cable!

  • by Koyaanisqatsi (581196) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:51AM (#41300637)

    Get those pilots and flight attendants to the gym *now*!

    Lets tackle global warming, a pound at a time ...

  • by Michael_gr (1066324) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:53AM (#41300665)
    I worked for a startup that designed a tablet-style device to hold flight manuals and maps for airliners. That was back in 1996. The device was bulkier than an ipad but did not weight 16Kg, and had a respectable 800X600 color display. I'm pretty sure tablets and/or laptops have been used since then in the cockpit - so the news here is proabably that the FAA approving yet another device.
  • by buddhaunderthetree (318870) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:53AM (#41300679)

    If you've ever used any of the online chart apps, you understand what this is all about. They are simply phenomenal and beat the heck out of paper charts that may or may not be up to date. But to be honest they're probably of more use to private pilots who may not be in touch with ATC during every part of their flight.

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Indeed. It would be amusing to see a little cropduster with one of those Honeywell flight computers....

  • Electronics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mfh (56) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:54AM (#41300681) Journal

    See? I knew it was okay to use electronics during takeoff and landing! The pilots are using them!!! SEE??!?!!

  • Next Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:55AM (#41300701) Journal

    So when can I start using my iPad during "all phases of the flight"?

    • So when can I start using my iPad during "all phases of the flight"?

      The big issue is not the electronic part, but the 'it hurts if it hits you on the head' part. iPads, iPhones, Galaxy whatevers can be nice little missiles in the event of a crash. Of course, a hardback book is gonna hurt if tossed at you 50 mph so the current regs aren't all that logically consistent.

      I read somewhere and too lazy to look it up, that the FAA is considering lowering the 'cabin electronics are OK' altitude to 5000 feet. Tell your kids, they might get to see it someday.

    • by Jeremi (14640)

      So when can I start using my iPad during "all phases of the flight"?

      Pretty soon [computerworld.com].

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      So when can I start using my iPad during "all phases of the flight"?

      Probably never. The last time I flew I wasn't even allowed to have my iPad in the seat pocket during takeoff due to some unspecified fear it might burst into flames -- and I'm not kidding. They made me put it back into my luggage in the overhead bin.

      • by Ixitar (153040)

        Where it would supposedly burst into flames and out of sight in the overhead bin.

  • Does Microsoft Flight Simulator exist for the iPad now?

  • I wonder if this means that someday soon us passengers will be able to listen to music on our iphone / droid or read on our ipad / nook / fire during take off and landing?

    • Do what I do. Start it paused, but then put your phone/pad/musicy in your pocket and say to the stewards when they ask that the music is off but you're using your headphones as ear defenders to make the flight quieter. Then slip your hand in your pocket and start it playing again. I do this even if I'm not listening to music, just to make the takeoff quieter. If I'm not listening to music I'll have the other end of the headphones unplugged and in obvious view for their benefit.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:11PM (#41300963)

      The best argument I've heard for the "real" reason you aren't allowed to use electronics during takeoff and landing isn't EMI or any other "technical" reason. It is because the crew wants two things. 1) Less distractions for the passengers. If an emergency were to arise, they want your full, undivided attention. No one saying "what was that? I was listening to Beiber". 2) Less items flying around in the event of a bad landing/takeoff. Accidents happen and an iPod at 200 MPH can probably ding you pretty good.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I wonder if this means that someday soon us passengers will be able to listen to music on our iphone / droid or read on our ipad / nook / fire during take off and landing?

      I think other regulations will likely preclude that.

      The reason they only let you wear headphones connected to their system during takeoff and landing is to be guaranteed you can hear them if they need to make an announcement or in case of emergency.

      If you can't hear them, it becomes a safety issue.

  • I worked at Boeing on two new airplane projects. The aircraft manufacturers and the airlines know almost exactly how much fuel is consumed per pound of aircraft weight.
  • As a professional researcher, it's much more reliable to use the paper version of manuals and hardware documentation.

    I'm all for consolidating text and tasks to a convenient gizmo for personal use, but when it comes to work, you can't be at the mercy of a power outage, dead battery, virus, etc, when you need to reference something important. We keep paper logbooks for a reason, and I'm surprised to hear the airline industry is forsaken what works flawlessly for snappy, computer interfaces.
    • As a researcher you probably have the benefit of large work-tables to spread the papers out on and the luxury of not having to pay a non-negligible sum of money for the weight of all your research papers and probably have the luxury of ample storage. Airline pilots don't have those.

      Plus they can quite probably counteract the problems of power outages, dead batteries, viruses etc but taking a charger or indeed (gasp!) a second one (which I believe is the plan).
    • As a professional researcher, it's much more reliable to use the paper version of manuals and hardware documentation.

      I'm all for consolidating text and tasks to a convenient gizmo for personal use, but when it comes to work, you can't be at the mercy of a power outage, dead battery, virus, etc, when you need to reference something important. We keep paper logbooks for a reason, and I'm surprised to hear the airline industry is forsaken what works flawlessly for snappy, computer interfaces.

      Power outage - well, if the plane's running on batteries, I think you have a bigger problem than worrying about following the approach plates in the iPad. And I'm sure the cockpit can have neat little things called 'charging ports' so your iPad can be charged from aircraft power.

      Though, for the vast majority of flight, the ipad will sit in the flight bag unused so as long as it's reasonably charged (more than 10% battery - which would give roughly an hour's worth of usage, which is plenty for most flights).

      Virus - well, ATC systems often use Windows, and those are a touch more vulnerable than say, an iPad. We are talking walled garden here after all (and "jailbreaking" is a pretty foreign term for them).

      The *interesting* thing is the iPad, while there are a few aviation apps (ported from iOS) for Android, it seems the vast majority concentrate on iOS, and the iPad specifically (very little for the iPhone).

      The aviation world has gone nuts for the iPad, primarily because an iPad with an AHRS system (total cost under $2000) can serve as a pretty good GPS system with a larger screen and better battery life. It beats having to retrofit a glass cockpit in your plane (if one's available - you're looking at easily $50k+ all in), a penel-mount GPS unit ($10k+), and cost-competitive with many handheld GPS units (around $2k). Except the iPad can also help you file your flight plan, do flight planning, and has a larger screen (and is more user (pilot) friendly). About the biggest complaint is the inability to use it with gloves.

      You should check out the aviation mags from around 2010 or so - they all went ga-ga for the iPad and possibilities for pilots. These days, reading those mags you'd think every pilot uses one.

    • Apples to Oranges (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chibi Merrow (226057) <mrmerrowNO@SPAMmonkeyinfinity.net> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:38PM (#41301409) Homepage Journal

      Hi, I work with the FAA, including on projects involving Electronic Flight Bag research and testing.

      Aeronautical charts in the US have a 56-day publication cycle. That means every 56 days, your paper charts are (possibly) out of date and should be replaced. Usually they're not, as most things DON'T change from one cycle to another, but there are always changes. So if you follow the approach procedures for a terminal in your flight bag, you may be following incorrect procedures, which at the very least is going to make ATC grumpy and in a worst case scenario could seriously impact safety. An iPad based solution means up-to-date charts can be loaded in seconds during pre-flight, instead of manually having to replace possibly dozens of individual manuals located in a heavy, bulky bag. Twice, since both pilots are required to have a copy.

      So, while as a "professional researcher," you can probably feel secure in the knowledge that the ten-year-old mass spectrometer you're working with can be safely used with the manual that came with it ten years ago, the same thing is not the least bit true in the aviation world.

      That being said, I'd much rather an up-to-date electronic manual, even for older hardware. Every manual has errors in it which can be hopefully corrected in future revisions...

  • Conversely (Score:5, Funny)

    by codepigeon (1202896) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:06PM (#41300883)
    In related news Andriod devices are not allowed in the cockpit becuase Apple has a patent on "using handheld electronic devices in a cockpit".
  • by FurtiveGlancer (1274746) <AdHocTechGuy AT aol DOT com> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:09PM (#41300955) Journal

    Do they have to be in "Airplane" mode?

    Seriously, I haven't been able to find (in a lunch at my desk search) any clear direction on the mode of operation required. Anyone know?

  • Red herring (Score:4, Informative)

    by ehud42 (314607) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:13PM (#41301017) Homepage

    For large airlines, that 35lb argument is such a red herring. $1.2 million in fuel savings when spread out per flight has to be so far below the noise floor as to be completely meaningless. Any change in fuel consumption over the year that small can be contributed to so many other factors.

    I know I can sometimes flip through a large book that I am very familiar with to find what I'm looking for faster than I can type the words into a search engine - especially when I'm not 100% sure on what word I'm looking for, but I'll know it when I see it. How much fuel does a 747 burn idling while a pilot tries typing in different key words looking for that section he knows deals with the quirk at hand?

    On a typical jet carrying 200+ passengers, there is going to be more than 35lbs of weight fluctuation in the level of water retention among the passengers.

    Fuel burn is also related to temperature, humidity and wind speed. Will they see the fuel savings when factoring in all that entropy?

    Maybe the weight makes a difference on a small 206 Caravan, but for these big birds, call a spade a spade - the pilots want their toys.

    • Re:Red herring (Score:5, Interesting)

      by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @01:43PM (#41302443)

      I've designed avionics and radios for aircraft. We didn't just care about a few lbs, we cared about everything down to the weight of the gaskets that sealed the antenna mounts.

      Hell, I remember having to verify that the mass of the gas capsule for the lightning arrestor device was not included in the overall mass of the device itself. The manufacturer of the lighting arrestor didn't even know and had to refer to their engineering drawings to be sure. I think it ended up being something like 0.1-0.2 ounces.

      Every ounce you shave from the aircraft is an ounce of fuel you can carry, or a fraction of fuel you don't have to burn. Over many thousand flights and many thousand miles, it adds up.

      Let's put it this way, if you went to UPS and told them that you could eliminate 0.5 miles from the routes their drivers take, you would have a multi-million dollar idea in your hands.

  • StackExchange's Skeptics site has some related calculations for United Airlines [stackexchange.com] that may be illuminating.

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