Delta Moves Towards Paperless Cockpits

On Monday (Sept. 30) the airline announced a plan to outfit its 11,000-strong pilot corps with Microsoft Surface 2 tablets. The new "electronic flight bag" will replace the traditional bag, which can weigh nearly 40 pounds.

What's the Latest Development?

Assuming they get FAA approval, Delta Airlines' 11,000 pilots will have a lot less baggage to lug through airports next year: Instead of the traditional flight bag, which contains charts and other necessary navigation paperwork, they will tote Microsoft Surface 2 tablets equipped with electronic versions of the same data. Tests will take place aboard Delta's Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft, and once the FAA gives its blessing, pilots flying all of the airline's planes should be able to use the tablets during all stages of flight.

What's the Big Idea?

Flight bags in their current form can weigh nearly 40 pounds and must be maintained for each pilot. By eliminating that weight across the fleet, Delta expects to save considerably on fuel and paper. Senior vice president Steve Dickson says that the move enables pilots to "reduce clutter and minimize time spent looking for flight information [providing] greater situational awareness in the air and on the ground." Delta is only the latest airline to create a pilots' version of a paperless office; others, including American Airlines, have similar programs involving different tablets.

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