FAA approves iPad for flight chart duty

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the iPad for use as an alternative to paper flight charts. CNN reports that the approval, which applies only to charter company Executive Jet Management and the app Mobile TC, took three months of rigorous testing across 250 flights, and included rapid decompression testing. In addition, the airline will be required to carry a second approved electronic device—most likely a second iPad—in case of a system or software crash, although neither the device nor the app crashed during testing. Jeff Buhl, product manager for the Mobile TC app at developer Jeppesen, said the iOS operating system and app proved “extremely stable” during testing, adding that in the “unlikely” event of a crash, the app is ready to go again in “in 4-6 seconds from re-launch to previous state.”

Despite the approval’s limited conditions, the report notes that it opens the door for other operators, including major airlines, to move to iPad-based charts, though any airline wishing to use the device will have to go through equally rigorous testing. “As far as the iPad is concerned, we do that on a case-by-case basis when an airline applies to be able to use it,” said FAA spokesman Les Dorr. According to Jeppesen, several carriers are looking into using the iPad and Mobile TC; Alaska Airlines began testing the iPad in November and there are now roughly 100 pilots currently evaluating the device.

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