updated 01:50 pm EDT, Thu August 18, 2011
May replace printed lists, manuals
British Airways has begun a pilot project testing the iPad with cabin crews. 100 crew members have been given the tablet so far, with the goal of streamlining some aspects of customer service. Each iPad is, for example, loaded with passenger lists and seating charts, which are updated just before each flight. Crews can likewise check Executive Club status and special meal requests.
If a passenger has a problem or complaint, an iPad can be used to log it and send any necessary info to ground-based customer support, which may be able to cope with the situation before a plane lands. Behind the scenes, the test units are replacing paper manuals and timetables for crews. British Airways claims that it has already received "great feedback" from workers and customers, and is hoping to expand iPad use to all senior crew within the next few months.
Several airlines -- most recently Delta -- have been testing iPads as replacements for pilot flight bags. Modern tablets allow a pilot to avoid carrying paper charts and manuals, or one of the bulkier dedicated electronic flight bags. Testing is not being limited to iPads though, as Delta is slating hardware like the Motorola Xoom for evaluation.