Summary:

Apple’s presence in the aircraft that crisscross our skies is doing well, thanks to the iPad. It is not only being used by airline staff at United to replace paper manuals and charts but is also being tested by Qantas to replace existing in-flight entertainment options.

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Apple is doing very well in airplanes that crisscross our skies, thanks to the iPad. It is not only being used by airline staff at United to replace paper manuals and charts but is also now being tested by Qantas to replace existing in-flight entertainment options.

A new Qantas trial pilot program will see one of the airline’s Boeing 767-300 jets outfitted with one iPad 2 for each passenger, according to the Australian Business Traveller. Each of the aircraft’s 254 seats will have its own iPad 2, and there will also be several spares kept on hand just in case. All seats pockets will carry an iPad 2, but business-class travelers will also get a flexible stand to use with their fold-out meal tray.

The iPads won’t be tethered to seats, but they will carry a software theft deterrent of sorts: Each boots directly into and only has access to Qantas’ proprietary Q Streaming app, which provides access to its in-flight entertainment library over Wi-Fi but which is also rendered useless upon leaving the plane.

The pilot program is about testing Qantas’ in-flight Wi-Fi streaming capabilities, Qantas Executive Manager for Customer Experience Alison Webster told the ABT. The ultimate goal is to be able to provide passengers with access to the Q Streaming service through their own devices, be they Apple’s iPads and iPhones or Android tablets and handsets.

If the initial test proves a success, Qantas plans to expand it to ten Boeing 767-300 jets, complete with iPad brackets installed in seat backs. Passengers who opt to use their own devices will also have the option of downloading a video to watch within 24 hours of leaving a plane, should they land before they finish their show or movie.

With iPads in the cockpit and iPads in the cabin, the air travel industry is becoming a perfect use case of how Apple’s devices appeal to companies for both consumer-facing and internal business use. Let’s hope Qantas’ example catches on here in North America and in the rest of the world, too. That shouldn’t be too tall of an order, since Q Streaming is based on the same technology that powers Virgin America’s just-announced in-flight entertainment system.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Katy Pearce

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