With iPads, paper no longer flies for United


Following the FAA’s OK of using the iPad instead of paper manuals and charts, United (s ual) is getting on board. On Tuesday the airline announced that it is ordering 11,000 iPads (s aapl) for its pilots to use in the cockpit. Each iPad will be loaded with navigation and terminal chart apps from Jeppesen Mobile FliteDeck.

Besides the convenience of fewer books and pieces of paper floating around, United says the cost and efficiency of flying will be affected for the better too. The normal 38 pounds of paper flight manuals, charts, reference handbooks, checklists, log books and weather info will be bumped in favor of a 1.5-pound iPad, which should severely lighten pilots’ load. All told that’s 12,000 sheets of paper per pilot that United will no longer be ordering, the airline says.

As a result, United says it will reduce fuel consumption too:

The airline projects EFBs will save nearly 16 million sheets of paper a year which is equivalent to more than 1,900 trees not cut down. Saving 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 3,208 metric tons.

So with all that extra weight reduced and fuel saved, does that mean it will start charging less for passenger baggage fees? That’s probably wishful thinking.

We’ll be talking a lot more about how the iPad and other tablets are changing the enterprise at our Mobilize event in San Francisco next month.

Image courtesy of Flickr user adpowers



I am a pilotfor Continental/United Airlines and this is great news. There is always one set of paper back up charts and manuals in one kit that will stay in each individual airplane is stead of all three or four of us pilots having each of our own 45 lb flight bag. It will never be an EXCUSE to delay a flight. We want to have a safe and efficient trip so we can go home far far away from a terminal.

John Harrington, Jr.

Whether its the airlines, the military, educational institutions, or businesses across the country, people are finding ways to make good use of the iPad in the workplace. The widespread use of these tablets does however pose some cause for concern when it comes to accessing email, contacts, calendars and data. Fiberlink recently held a webinar on the topic of enabling iPads in the workplace. View it here to figure out how to introduce tablets to your workplace the right way: http://bit.ly/ovkBzR


Hard wired in the cockpit and uploaded / updated at a maintenance station. Soon they will be a part of the cockpit display only thing though is will have to be one of the functional instrument on all engine out senarios..

James Steadman

So do the pilots have to turn off their ipads during take off and landing too?


And in reality the airline saves practically nothing. You only need ONE passenger with a spare 38lbs of junk in the trunk…

Marshall Clark

I wonder if they have to turn them off during takeoff and landing?

Davy McAleer

Sorry – that sounds more sarcastic than it was supposed to – I think we should trust in some software and hardware and backup means of doing business.

Davy McAleer

Folks – you know they can get electricity on planes now? I’m not familiar with what United are planning on doing, but I’m guessing a docking station will figure in the equation somewhere along the lines and there’ll be more than one iPad per plane? Maybe one per cockpit crew member would seem reasonable. It’s electronic components and it runs on electricity – there’s quite alot of that in a plane nowadays.


My question is will they be required to turn these devices off during takeoff and landing. If not does that make the case for allowing passengers to keep theirs on too?


For me this is disturbing. Paper manual is more reliable than the ipad. Lithium batteried will fail eventually. If that happens no manual then mistakes then disaster. (added by Mobile using Mippin)


What’s their backup if the iPads happen to conk out in flight? The things only have a track record of a couple of years so far…

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