Airlines Test Out iPad in the Cockpit for Pilots

Airlines have looked at offering iPads to customers for in-flight entertainment, and now carriers are moving toward allowing pilots to use iPads to replace charts and bulky computers in the cockpit.

For years, pilots have used paper charts in notebooks to find data on airports and what radio frequencies to use. An iPad would allow pilots to more quickly find the information instead of sifting through multiple pages – the added speed a benefit especially during an emergency situation.

Some airlines have already upgraded to "electronic flight bags," instead of paper but that still means carrying around a laptop computer that could weigh up to 18 pounds versus an iPad at just 1.5 pounds.

Executive Jet, which offers on-demand business jet charters, has been approved to use iPads in the cockpit after 250 successful certification flights, while commercial airlines are still testing them out.

Alaska Airlines is currently evaluating Apple's iPad with a "select group of pilots," spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey told the Seattle Times.

While Executive Jet has developed a method that has the iPad attached to the pilot's upper leg, Alaska Airlines is planning to mount the device directly to the airplane.

Of course, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates that passengers must turn off electronic devices, including iPads, below 10,000 feet. But "flight crew may use an electronic flight bag when necessary to do their job," FAA spokeswoman Alison Duquette told AOL Travel News. The FAA also confirmed that pilots will still have to carry paper back-ups in case an iPad malfunctions.

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