Civilian and military flight crews are increasing looking to the iPad to replace bulky maps and flight manuals, saving weight and ensuring that crews always have the most up to date materials.
In the past month, both American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have begun distributing iPads to their pilots to reduce the number of paper maps flight crews must to carry around and fly with. The switch saves paper, and thus fuel, by reducing the weight of pilots' flight bags which can weigh several dozen pounds.
iPads are also seeing action in war zones. DVIDS reports how Marine Corps aviators are using iPads in Afghanistan:
"iPads allow close-air support aircrew several advantages," said Maj. Marc Blankenbicker, the lead fire control officer for the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron Harvest Hawk detachment at Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan. "First is the ability to carry 500 large charts, known as gridded reference graphics, on one electronic tablet."The U.S. Navy is using iPads as well. The image at the top of this article shows U.S. Navy Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Michael Tolbert uploading "geographical data onto tactical Apple iPad tablets to be used for combat operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson at sea April 19, 2011."
Currently, a handful of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) squadrons use Apple's iPad in Afghanistan. This includes crewmembers for AH-1W and UH-1Y light attack helicopter squadrons, AV-8B Harrier pilots and the crew of the Harvest Hawk equipped KC-130J.
Each of these aircraft provides close-air support for Marines, Afghan forces and other combined team ground troops in Nimroz and Helmand provinces. Marine aviators said the electronic tablet helps them quickly access maps and other data they can use to ensure precision strikes are targeted at enemy positions.
The secure tablet storage box the Navy is using in that picture appears to be a Pelican 1630 Transport Case, available on Amazon.com for $299.94 (with free shipping!).
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher K. Hwang/Released)