Alaska waving 'Bye, Bye' to flight bags with iPads for pilots

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Alaska Airlines has become the first US domestic airline to announce plans to issue Apple iPads to all its pilots for use as Class 1 portable, kneeboard electronic flight bags (EFBs), following a successful trial.

The 1.5lb iPads, which replace up to 25lb of paper flight manuals, contain an app called GoodReader that is loaded with PDF versions of 41 flight, systems and performance manuals, reference cards, and other materials.

Each Alaska pilot will receive his or her new iPad by mid-June.

In conjunction with replacing paper manuals, Alaska is exploring the replacement of paper aeronautical navigation charts with electronic versions on the iPad, eliminating the need for every pilot to carry their own copy.

The two initiatives, dubbed "Bye, Bye, Flight Bag," will save about 2.4 million pieces of paper, according to the carrier.

"We've been exploring the idea of an electronic flight bag for several years, but never found a device we really liked," said Alaska Airlines vice president of flight operations Gary Beck. "When the iPad hit the market, we took one look at it and said this is the perfect fit."

Alaska could not be immediately reached for further comment.

In the business aviation community, NetJets subsidiary Executive Jet Management recently received Federal Aviation Administration approval to use an iPad App from Jeppesen as an alternative to paper aeronautical maps. Myriad other commercial and business aircraft operators are exploring iPad-as-EFB solutions.