updated 08:45 pm EDT, Sat September 28, 2013
Airline surprisingly drops iPad for flight crews, goes with Surface 2
Delta Air Lines surprised industry observers on Friday by going with Microsoft's newly announced Surface 2 tablet for its pilots instead of Apple's iPad. The airline already allows pilots to bring their own iPads with them on flights, and observers expected them to go with Apple's tablet for digital flight materials. Instead, they will receive Microsoft's newest Windows RT-powered tablet devices, according to Windows IT Pro.
"In less than two years, Delta cockpits will be paperless as we roll-out the Microsoft Surface 2 tablet running Windows 8.1 RT as our company-issued device," the airline alerted its employees recently. "The 757/767 fleet will be the first to make the transition with the 777, 747 and MD88 as fast followers. Look for an announcement from Delta and Microsoft in the coming days about our partnership on the initiative."
In addition to the iPad, speculation centered on Nokia's all-but-confirmed Windows RT tablet as a solution for Delta's pilots. That device is slated for launch by the end of October, though it may be delayed given Microsoft's recent purchase of Nokia's electronics operations.
The airline reportedly wants "current iPad Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) users to transition to a company-issued device."
Complementing the Surface 2 will be some 19,000 Nokia Lumia 820 smartphones that Delta already distributes to its flight attendants. The flight crews use the smartphones to assist in seating and demonstration of precautionary details for flights. Pilots are expected to use the Surface devices to replace large and physical flight literature. Similar adjustments on other airlines have reportedly resulted in thousands of pounds of flight weight saved, leading to thousands of gallons of fuel conserved.