Wired is reporting today on the iPad gaining approval to be used by pilots to replace paper charts.
After three months of testing, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has authorized an airline charter company, Executive Jet Management, to use the iPad as an approved alternative to paper charts.
This sounds like it should be quite a popular change with the company’s pilots …
From the earliest days of aviation, pilots have relied upon paper maps to help find their way. Even in an era of GPS and advanced avionics, you still see pilots lugging around 20 pounds or more of charts. But those days are numbered, because maps are giving way to iPads.
Executive Jet Management will be using iPads in tandem with a custom map app developed by an aviation chartmaker called Jeppesen.
In order to get the FAA’s OK to use the iPad to replace paper charts, Jeppesen and Executive Jet Management had to get through a rigorous approval process:
It included rapid-decompression testing from a simulated altitude of 51,000 feet and ensuring the tablet will not interfere with critical navigation or electronic equipment.
Executive Jet tested the iPad and Mobile TC in 10 aircraft flown by 55 pilots during 250 flights.
As protection against app or device crashes, Executive Jet Management is required to have a second approved electronic device in the cockpit, likely another iPad.
As Wired points out, the really interesting thing about the FAA decision is the potential for much broader adoption of the iPad among commercial airlines …
Although this authorization applies to just one company, it is a milestone for all operators, including major airlines, because it opens the door for them to embrace the iPad. Though any company wishing to follow Executive Jet’s lead will have to endure equally rigorous scrutiny by the FAA.
Check out the full Wired report here: