United Airlines to Deploy 11,000 iPads to Flight Crews by 2011 Year-End

“The paperless flight deck represents the next generation of flying. 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, Senior Vice President of Flight Operations, United Airlines.

United Continental Holding, Inc. (NYSE: UAL) plans to equip 11,000 crew members at United and Continental with iPads. United’s goal is to achieve a “paperless flight deck” by replacing paper charts and manuals with electronic versions of the same information. In addition to reducing the cases of pilot back injuries resulting from pilots lugging heavy flight bags through airports and hefting into aircraft, United expects the iPad-based electronic flight bags (EFBs) to increase safefty and efficiency by enabling crews faster access to charts and and other flight information.

Untied has selected Jeppesen’s Mobile Flight Deck, a more feature-rich follow-on to Jeppesen’s first iPad App, Jeppesen Mobile TC. The primary difference between these two Apps is Mobile Flight Deck’s georeferenced charts. It is unclear if United will take advantage these features as the FAA requires substantial airworthiness approvals to use own-ship position on EFBs used by certificated operators.

In addition to improving safety and operational efficiency, United is drawing attention to the “green” benefits of moving to an EFB platform for charts and other flight publications. According to United, the airline expects the weight reductions resulting from minimizing onboard paper to translate into 326,000 gallons of fuel not burned over a year. This would reduce the operator’s carbon footprint by 3,208 metric tons and prevent 1,900 from being cut down.