Pilots in the U.S. Air Force are switching from 20 to 40-pound bags of paper manuals and charts to Apple iPads, and the Air Force says the switch will save them $5.7 million each year.
The big bags of printed paper include flight manuals, weather, maps, and navigation charts, and big books filled with technical data.
The Air Force is paying $9 million for 18,000 iPads purchased from Apple at a bulk discount. According to Electronista, pilots will be using 32-GB Wi-Fi iPads purchased for $520 each.
Previously the Air Force was paying $5 Million per year to print all the manuals. That cost goes away along with about $750,000 in fuel savings due to weight reductions. Previously there was a 20 to 40 pound flight bag per crew member so a plane like the C-5 military aircraft is reducing weight by up to 490 pounds.
The roll out of the new “electronic flight bags” follows extensive testing at the Little Rock Air Force Base. Crews at the base tested several different tablet types and brands and found iPad to provide the best set of features at the lowest cost to the military.
Pilots interviewed about the new electronic system in the video below report saving time and effort when accessing information. Rather than having to pull out different books and finding information, and then switching to paper maps, they can now quickly move from one kind of data to another with just the touch of a button.