As noted on ZDNet (edit to add: and TechCrunch), American Airlines received FAA approval today to use iPads in the cockpit in all phases of flight. This is similar to program that United Airlines announced in August but is only for use during “non-critical” phases of flight (the same times passenger electronics can be used).
The certification is significant because the FAA published an InFO (Information for Operators) on the use of iPads in the cockpit back in May of this year. In that InFO, the FAA essentially broke the advice into two phases: replacement of paper manuals and charts (via the Jeppesen Mobile TC app); and the certification of the iPad as an electronic device usable during flight operations.
The United Airlines project addressed phase I – the use of the application.
American’s announcement today is that they have completed the requirements to certify the iPad and iPad2 as safe for use (not producing harmful interference) during flight operations, including those times when other electronic devices must be off (during taxi, takeoff and landing). Of note, especially with the ongoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the acrimony between management and the unions, the Allied Pilots Association led the effort to test the devices and certify them for safe use in flight. This is a great example of the pilots working with the airline to achieve a shared goal and should be used as a banner in the certainly ongoing negotiations to resolve the contract dispute.
This is good news for Apple as it proves that the device can be safely certified (not that it was in doubt, it just hadn’t yet been done), and it’s great news for pilots because they’ll be able to get rid of around 35 pounds of manuals (though I’d imagine there will still be copies available as backups).
Will Google be next, getting Android devices certified for use in its fleet via H211? The challenge is greater since it’s not the OS that matters, it’s the device – so each device that would be used in the cockpit must be individually certified for safe use.
What are your thoughts? Is this going to be helpful, or is this going to lead to another fly-by situation like the one over Minnesota in 2009?