United Airlines goes green – equips 11,000 pilots with iPads

23 Aug 2011

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United Airlines has become the first airliner in the world to convert to paperless flight decks. It will distribute 11,000 iPads to all United and Continental pilots.

The electronic flight bags (EFB) replace paper flight manuals aeronautical navigational charts through an iPad app.

Distribution of iPads began earlier this month, and all pilots will have them by year-end.

“The paperless flight deck represents the next generation of flying,” said Captain Fred Abbott, United’s senior vice president of flight operations.

“The introduction of iPads ensures our pilots have essential and real-time information at their fingertips at all times throughout the flight.”

The iPads are loaded with Jeppesen Mobile FliteDeck, an app featuring interactive, data-driven en-route navigation information and worldwide geo-referenced terminal charts. T

Environmental impact

Each Apple iPad, which weighs less than 1.5 pounds, will replace approximately 38 pounds of paper operating manuals, navigation charts, reference handbooks, flight checklists, logbooks and weather information in a pilot’s flight bag.

A conventional flight bag full of paper materials contains an average of 12,000 sheets of paper per pilot.

The green benefits of moving to EFBs are two-fold—it significantly reduces paper use and printing, and, in turn, reduces fuel consumption.

The airline projects EFBs will save nearly 16 million sheets of paper a year, which is equivalent to more than 1,900 trees not cut down.

Saving 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 3,208 metric tons.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com