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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

American Airlines Switching From Paper to iPads, Will Save $1.2 million In Fuel

by Jaymi Heimbuch

american airlines photo
Photo by lrargerich via Flickr CC

American Airlines is eyeballing iPads as a light-weight way to carry flight charts. And the company guesses the change will save it over a million dollars a year in fuel costs.

The move towards digitization and dematerialization is hitting the airlines now. MarketWatch reports that American Airline pilots have started testing out US-approved iPad tablets as a way for going paperless. A 1.5 lb tablet device will carry maps and other paperwork that can weigh as much as 35 lbs, saving space in the cockpit as well as removing excess weight from the flight.

The airline estimates a savings of $1.2 million a year in fuel costs alone -- not to mention how much will be saved in paper. Plus, the pilots will likely have an easier time accessing the information with the ability to zoom in on maps or easily find particular data.

The transition also marks a change in allowing electronic devices to be turned on during take-off and landing. According to MarketWatch, this will be the first time use of the device is allowed during all phases of flight. But that certainly doesn't mean passengers will be allowed to use their own iPads during these times.

Meanwhile, Alaska Air is looking to go the same route, providing iPads to its pilots for manuals, though maps will still be provided on paper.

The carbon footprint comparison of tablet devices vs paper is getting a whole new component with this use. Normally we hear about issues such as electricity consumption, durability, and lifespan, but now we'll also have to weigh in how much fuel is saved during travel by carrying a tablet instead of piles of paper.

Apple Insider reports that Samsung is also wanting to help airlines go paperless, with Galaxy Tab devices offered as entertainment devices for passengers. However, they aren't able to replace flight charts like iPads can because they aren't able to run the FAA-approved flight charting app.