JetBlue Pilots Take iPads Into the Cockpit

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JetBlue Pilots use iPads

Composite image by Barbara Holbrook, Everything Long Beach

JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ: JBLU) has received Federal Aviation Administration approval to give all pilots custom-equipped iPads that will add more real-time capabilities in the cockpit and save fuel by eliminating the heavy paper manuals that all pilots carry.

Following a successful trial phase with approximately 60 pilots over several months, JetBlue already has begun giving all 2,500 pilots a fourth-generation 16 GB Wi-Fi capable Apple iPad. While JetBlue has been approved for a decade to use a PC-based laptop in the cockpit – called an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) – the iPads will offer new capabilities and conveniences, especially as JetBlue implements Ka-Band satellite Wi-Fi.

United Airlines began issuing iPads to pilots in 2011 and American Airlines ditched the 40-lb manual in favor of EFBs in May.

“We are one step closer to a paperless cockpit,” said Jeff Martin, senior vice president of operations for JetBlue. 

“The iPads will have real-time weather capability and the ability to update safety and flight documents securely,” Martin continued. “We expect to add digital chart capability, once it is approved.” With JetBlue’s coming Ka-band satellite capability enabled by LiveTV, pilots will be able to download weather imagery in seconds, while the same download might take several minutes with other systems.

“Our pilots will have the fastest real-time images in the air,” Martin said. JetBlue’s pilots will use WSI Optima application for weather briefings, the Comply365 app for digital documents and the AeroData DFP app for aircraft performance and weight and balance calculations. The Comply365 solution will be used throughout JetBlue. JetBlue is currently evaluating digital charting providers for implementation at a later date.

“Pilots will be able to make decisions to help improve the customer experience, such as having a more robust weather briefing that can be used to update customers during the flight about what to expect en route,” Martin said. JetBlue will implement iPad use during the next three months to ensure a safe transition.

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