Pilots on All Nippon Airways (ANA) given iPads to ‘cut costs’

Cutting printing costs and weight saving are priorities for ANA, which plans to hand out iPads to pilots to replace paper flight manuals.

Pilots on All Nippon Airways (ANA) given iPads in 'cost-cutting' exercise

Source: All Nippon Airways (ANA)

All Nippon Airways will hand out iPads to all pilots next year in a cost-cutting exercise that it says will also improve efficiency and service in the skies.

The Japanese airline says the data on the touchscreen tablets will replace traditional printed manuals and provide flight crew with a quick means of accessing the latest weather and flight information, instead of having to sift through reams of paper.

The stored data will assist pilots with tasks such as rerouting around bad weather and flying aircraft more fuel efficiently.

Around 300 pilots will be involved in a three-month trial using the iPads in September, before the tablets are rolled out to all 2,500 pilots from February 2013, ANA said in a statement.

ANA has already issued cabin crew with iPads: their new training tool. The tablets replace bulky paper training manuals – that must be carried by cabin crew wherever they go – with self-taught lessons.

The online training manual will be updated regularly with downloadable video and voice tutorials, including how to deal with emergency situations.

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More airlines are investing in iPads on board their fleets in a bid to cut paper printing costs and raise their service levels.

Singapore Airlines’s budget carrier Scoot and Qantas’s offshoot Jetstar now offer lightweight iPad-based inflight entertainment systems that are helping to shed weight on the plane and deliver fuel savings.

iPads are common in the cockpit too.

American Airlines, United and Continental pilots are among those using iPads instead of clunky paper flight manuals in the cockpit.

And senior British Airways cabin crew have been armed with iPads in a drive to offer passengers a more personalised service.

The airline recently trialled a new inflight service where cabin crew offer restaurant, hotel and shopping recommendations to passengers on long-haul flights via an iPad app that’s downloaded before the flight.

Iberia, BA’s merger partner has also equipped senior cabin crew with iPads stored with passenger data, including special meal requests and real-time flight status information.

Terminal U recently spoke to a cabin crew member with a major airline who claims that iPads often go unused on short-haul flights.

The initial investment for airlines is not cheap, however. At current Apple prices, it would cost ANA £1m to equip its 2,500 pilots with an iPad 3, in addition to the tablets already used by cabin crew.

The move to issue iPads to cabin crew has its critics.

Terminal U recently spoke to a cabin crew member with a major airline who claims that iPads often go unused on short-haul flights.

The source, who wishes to remain anonymous said: “The iPads are a complete waste of time and money, especially on short-haul [flights]. Workwise, apart from using them to assist passengers with flight connections, we hardly use them.

“For long-haul flights I think iPads have much more use, but £500 worth [of technology] when we [the airline] have been recently struggling?”

With iPads able to store vast amounts of information without interfering with the technology in the cockpit, it’s no surprise that airlines are continuing to show their commitment to the tablet technology.

In future, airlines will be looking at other ways pilots can use iPads in the cockpit, other than weight saving.

Qantas will hand out iPads to pilots designed to replace paper manuals later this year and is also considering further uses for the iPad in the cockpit, such as to perform take-off and landing calculations.

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