Pilots lead difficult lives between the stress of flying a plane and keeping hundreds of people safe everyday, not to mention the relatively low income they earn. In addition, pilots are generally required to haul around pounds upon pounds of manuals and maps, everywhere they go. Delta Airlines recognizes the added burden of hauling paper, and has decided to give its pilots a break by ordering more than 11,000 of Microsoft's just released Surface 2 tablets, to be distributed to its workforce.
The Surface tablets will allow the flight crew to have easy access to essential tools and the most up-to-date, flight-related resources, including navigational charts, reference documents, and checklists. At the same time, Delta estimates that carrying tablets rather than pounds of manuals will save the airline roughly $13 million per year in fuel and associated costs.
Surface to the Rescue
For starters, Delta pilots who fly its Boeing 757s and 767s will be receiving the Surface tablets. However, Delta stated that it hopes to expand the program soon, to provide tablets to its other pilots, as well. The airline is also trying to get approval from the FAA to use the new Surface tablets during actual flights and not just before takeoff.
Delta says that providing Surface tablets to pilots is just one of the many ways that the company has been coming up with technologically savvy ways to improve its services and makes its employees' lives easier.
The Delta Electronic Flight Bag -- as the company has decided to call it -- will include the Surface 2 tablets running on Windows 8.1 and will also include an application called 'FliteDeck Pro' that should help pilots plan for their flights.
A Better, Faster, Lighter Solution
In theory, the tablets should give pilots easy access to the most up-to-date information regarding routes and because of that, Delta says, the new program should help the airline save $12 to $13 million each year in fuel and other costs.
For an airline, such as Delta, the ability to update manuals and other flight information with the click of a button is far more efficient than other options. And of course, for pilots who are accustomed to lugging around pounds of manuals, switching to tablets will be a huge advantage.
The airline industry seems to have been slower than many other industries with regard to upgrading to mobile technology, primarily because of regulations regarding use of personal electronics on planes. But with the popularity of tablets and lightweight laptops, plus the potential boost in profitability, other airlines are likely to follow suit with the move toward mobile.