The FAA issued iPads for pilots to use as replacements for paper charts and has received positive feedback from pilots and other flight crew suggesting that it is a viable replacement. Now, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is planning to expand the usage of the iPad during flights and even for its employees. The administration is also planning to create its own App Store to accompany the new widespread adoption. According to a report from AvWeb, 1,100 FAA employees use the iPad, and with the expansion, that number will increase, with mechanics and lawyers receiving most of the units.
The FAA allows employees to do basic actions on the iPad, such as checking email, and sending messages, however, does not allow access to FAA networks. This may be because of the iPhone’s and iPad’s numerous unstable security measures, which have been criticized in the past. If the FAA builds their own App Store, they would be able to tailor their services for their employees and would be able to extract far more usage out of the iPads, and make them viable replacements for a notebook computer. Tailored apps would include aeronautical maps and charts which are consistently used during flights by pilots, who must be able to access information quickly and efficiently.
The FAA’s manager of Architecture and Applied Technology pegged a timeframe for 2014, where employees will be able to request an iPad as a replacement for a laptop computer. Last December, American Airlines became the first airlines to fully adopt the iPad as a replacement as an electronic flight bag. The iPad is very lightweight and could advance to become an integral part of the FAA if they remove a rule banning the use of electronics during take-off and landing.