United-Continental eyes paperless flight decks with iPads

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United-Continental intends to convert to paperless flight decks and deploy 11,000 Apple iPad tablet computers to all United and Continental pilots.

"The electronic flight bags replace paper flight manuals, and as a first for major network carriers, provide pilots with paperless aeronautical navigational charts through an iPad app," said United-Continental in a brief statement today.

The company will provide further details of its strategy during a media briefing tomorrow at Chicago O'Hare. At that time, United pilots will be available on an aircraft to demonstrate how the iPads will be used on the flight deck, said the carrier.

United is the latest US operator looking to turn the highly popular iPad into an electronic flight bag (EFB).

Alaska Airlines in May became the first US domestic airline to formally announce plans to issue iPads to all its pilots for use as Class 1 portable, kneeboard EFBs, following a successful trial.

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.

Delta Air Lines recently started testing iPads - and will test other tablets - as part of a broad initiative aimed at transforming its communications with crew, and flight operations.