Sky clears of paper planes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2011, 12:00am


Airlines are using iPads to improve the efficiency and productivity of their employees inside their aircraft.

The use of iPad instead of paper flight and training manuals is expected to give the staff easy access to the latest information, and to reduce printing and distribution costs.

In Japan, All Nippon Airways (ANA) started a trial last month, before the full roll out in April next year, with 700 of its 6,000 cabin attendants replacing paper manuals with iPads.

The airline's three training manuals weighed more than 2kg, compared to 0.7kg of an iPad.

In addition, the traditional manuals had to be updated and reprinted several times a year, but with an iPad this can be done automatically.

The new digital ANA manual will also make use of voice recordings and video to share the knowledge of experienced employees.

The iPad also enables cabin attendants to learn without travelling to training facilities.

In the United States, United Continental Holdings is deploying 11,000 iPads to all United and Continental pilots, replacing paper flight manuals, with information such as aeronautical navigational charts, en-route navigation information and worldwide geo-referenced terminal charts.

The distribution of iPads started in August and will be completed by the end of the year.

The pilot's flight manual usually contains about 12,000 sheets of paper weighing 17.3kg and the move towards digital flight bags is expected to reduce printing and distribution costs.

Pilots' work will also be streamlined as they can quickly access reference material and download updates.

iPads are also being used to enhance customer services inside the cabin.

At British Airways, cabin attendants have started using iPads to note passenger preferences and information relating to each passenger's previous travel arrangements.

The gadget allows cabin attendants to quickly identify where each customer is seated, who they are travelling with, their frequent-flyer membership status, and any special meal requests.

It gives cabin attendants a whole library of information including timetables, safety manuals and customer service updates. When all passengers have boarded, cabin attendants can refresh their screens and immediately have a complete list.