The FAA is finally making things official for iPad use in cockpits, with the first round of pilots from American Airlines set to take Apple’s tablet into the skies this Friday. We told you in July that the FAA had approved the iPad as a replacement to traditional flight bags for a handful of airlines, but now a report from ZDNet claims American Airlines will be the first to get official authorization for all pilots during all phases of flight.

On Friday, American Airlines is the first airline in the world to be fully FAA approved to use iPads during all phases of flight. Pilots will use iPads as electronic chart and digital flight manual readers. The airline will begin iPad operations on B-777 aircraft, and then implement across all other fleets. By using electronic charts and manuals, the safety and efficiency on the flight deck is significantly enhanced. 

It isn’t just the iPad 2, but the original iPad as well that has been approved and other airlines including UPS, Alaska, and United are reportedly in the process of considering the device as well. The decision to authorize the iPad on American Airlines follows an extensive 6 month trial run with the device.

The iPad-based flight bags will allow pilots to shed approximately 35 pounds of weight from the traditional, physical flight bag consisting of manuals and other emergency documentation. According to Seattle Pi, that will also account for around $1.2 million in fuel savings per year. This is what First Officer Hank Putek of the APA Safety Committee had to say about the new iPad flight bags:

By eliminating bulky flight bags filled with paper, (electronic flight bags) mean less weight for pilots to carry, reducing the possibility of injury on duty. In addition, they enable pilots to immediately download updates, rather than waiting for paper versions of required documents to be printed and distributed.

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