JetBlue moves toward iPad-powered electronic flight bags

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The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted JetBlue Airways approval to allow its pilots to use Apple iPad tablet computers in the cockpit as electronic flight bags.

The announcement, made by the airline 26 June, follows a several-month trial period during which about 60 JetBlue pilots used iPads in the air, the New York-based carrier says.

The airline is now giving 16-gigabyte wli-fi-enabled iPads to all its 2,500 pilots, the airline says.

The FAA has permitted JetBlue pilots to use PC-based laptops as electronic flight bags for roughly a decade, but iPads have more capabilities and are more convenient, the airline says.

For instance, pilots can use iPads to receive real-time weather updates by connecting to the Ka-band satellite wi-fi system that JetBlue is installing on its aircraft.

Pilots will use the WSI Optima application, made by Weather Services International, for weather briefings and the Comply365 application for digital documents. They will use the Aerodata DFP application for aircraft performance and weight and balance calculations, according to JetBlue.

JetBlue expects to add digital chart capabilities to iPads upon regulatory approval, the airline adds.

"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," the media release says.

JetBlue has signed a $20 million contract with satellite operator ViaSat for Ka-band internet bandwidth to power its Fly-Fi inflight entertainment offering.

JetBlue has said it expects to conducts the first flight of an aircraft equipped with Ka-band wi-fi in the middle of this year.