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FAA approves iPad for flight logbooks

updated 11:05 pm EST, Mon February 28, 2011

Ruling opens door to widespread commercial use

After three months of testing, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given approval for one company, Executive Jet Management, to use iPads running Jeppesen Mobile TC instead of the traditional paper charts and Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs). Though only valid for the one company at the moment, the decision presages eventual approval for iPads to be used widely for commercial and non-commercial flights. Pilots can use a kneeboard to secure the iPad hands-free while keeping it visible during critical stages of the flight.

While iPads have always been acceptable for reference purposes, this marks the first time the FAA has approved them for use as a pilot's sole charting source. Testing included trials at various altitudes and pressures, in 10 different types of aircraft with 55 different pilots for a total of 250 flights. The iPad was tested under rapid decompression conditions of up to 51,000 feet, as well as tested for non-interference with traditional electronic pilot navigation systems. It was reported that neither the application or the OS failed at any point in the testing, but that in the "unlikely" event of an app or system crash, pilots could restart the app and get back to where they were within 4-6 seconds.

It is hoped that the successful test could pave the way for an eventual Class 2 mounting configuration, which would allow the iPad to be mounted inside the aircraft in a manner similar to the way it can be mounted in automobiles now. The current authorization requires the use of a second device -- most likely another iPad -- to be in the cockpit to serve as a backup, but even the weight of two iPads (approximately three pounds) saves considerably over the 25 pounds' worth of paper charts and manuals currently required by the FAA.

Alaska Airlines and other commercial carriers are said to already be evaluating the iPad themselves, and with further FAA approval the iPad could conceivably replace a host of electronic devices, incorporating weather information, GPS, maps, crew scheduling, passenger and/or freight manifestos and more.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: Nov 2006


    In the airport

    I was in JFK airport yesterday and you know those limousine drivers holding sign with guest names written on it..... some of them are using iPad displaying guest names plus nice big company logo on the screen. Hopefully it doesn't burn the screen because I was there waiting at the arrival for about 1.5 hours.

  1. facebook_Patent

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Mar 2011


    Similar Story

    Here is a similar story

    From the earliest days of aviation, pilots have relied upon paper maps to help find their way. Even in an era of GPS and advanced avionics, you still see pilots lugging around 20 pounds or more of charts.

    But those days are numbered, because maps are giving way to iPads.

  1. nowayoutofmymind

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007


    Fail safety...

    Unless you have a redundant iPad with you, paper maps are MUCH safer in terms of failing to be readable. One electrical failure and ALL maps are gone on the iPad (or any electonic device for that matter). You have to do quite wild to make maps unreadable...

  1. Tanker10a

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2003


    Very Cool!

    It's like having a hand-held electronic display... Away with with these old and bulky flip-chart that you have to keep updated every so many years and months... Wow! that makes me want to fly again...

  1. vasic

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2005



    All commercial aircraft are required to have certain level of redundancy in all electronic systems. Disregarding for the moment the fact that in the event of a power failure in the cockpit, iPad would obviously be the one device that will continue to run (due to its autonomous power source -- the built-in battery), having another iPad would add minimal cost and weight to the crew's gear, and would eliminate probably ten times the amount of paper.

    The headline of this article is NOT correct; flight logbooks and Jeppessen navigation charts are two entirely different things. There are several logbook apps out there for iOS (LogTen Pro, Logbook Pro), and pilots have been using them for years. Navigation charts, however, had to be bought, and they always have to be current. The mountains of paper that are wasted on these are, well, monumental. Let's hope iPad starts chipping away at those mountains...

  1. Grendelmon

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Dec 2007


    If I'm not mistaken,

    GA and commercial have been doing this for years on EFBs. The iPad is just a specific implementation so there's nothing "new" being done here.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Re: If I'm not mistaken

    Of course it's new! It involves the iPad! It's a revolution of change, not crappy stuff from yesteryear or this 'efb' you speak of.

  1. radmoose

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2011



    Do they have to turn them off on takeoff and landings =P

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