Often when a pilot boards a plane he or she has a lot to carry. The New York Times wrote that this can include operating manuals, safety checklists, navigation charts, logbooks, airport diagrams and weather information. And all of it can weigh up to 40 pounds.
Trending toward tablets
Now, as content management services eliminate the need for reams of paper in offices, courtrooms and classrooms around the globe, pilots have decided they'd also like to get a taste of this lightened load. Last year, Times of Malta wrote, Air Malta introduced an electronic tablet-based flight bag meant to take the place of the thousands of sheets of paper that typically fill a pilot's bag.
India will be the second country in Asia, after Sri Lanka, to allow pilots to use electronic flight bags.
The airline was just one of several to come. In addition Saudi Arabia's national carrier, Flynas, last month began officially using tablets in the cockpit in place of paper documents, according to Arab News.
The Mumbai Mirror reports, India's Director General of Civil Aviation, which previously required pilots to carry some 12,000 sheets of paper for course charting, has opened the door for tablets in the cockpit.
A wealth of benefits
"The benefits of using electronic flight bags are immense," said DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar. "There will be a drastic reduction in the use of paper, usually running into thousands of sheets. There will be a reduction in the use of jet fuel, on account of weight reduction."
Not only will these recent moves limit aircraft weight, they can save money on health insurance costs too according to the New York Times.
"Cockpits are small, and lifting that thing up and over your seat causes damage, particularly when you consider a lot of pilots are over 40," said David Clark, pilot and manager of the connected aircraft program at American Airlines.
Typically cost savings related to transitioning to document management software are associated with eliminating the need to purchase reams of paper and ink cartridges over healthcare. According to the New York Daily News an ounce of printer ink actually costs 30 times more than an ounce of Moet & Chandon champagne.
The amount of ink printed onto the thousands of sheets of maps, manuals and diagrams pilots carry can be assumed to be pretty expensive.
Jack Long, a technology entrepreneur, told The New York Times that he spent $1,414 annually on charts and maps. Now he pays a fraction of that – $150 per year – to have them delivered to his tablet.
"I never pull out paper anymore," said Long. "It's about safety as much as convenience. I can get at information immediately to make critical decisions."
Time saved is another oft-cited advantage of going paperless. According to the U.S. Small Business Association using a document storage solution as opposed to a filing cabinet can enhance efficiency.
When documents are all in one place and easy to access, as they would be with content management services, employees have a much easier time finding them. In this case of pilots this will help maintain focus on keeping their plane in the air instead of rummaging through a packed flight bag.
"The efficiency of the pilot in the cockpit depends a great deal on his ability to pull out the necessary information in order to make the right decision at the right time," Captain Mansour Al-Harbi, executive director, flight operations at Flynas, told Arab News. "Using tablets will contribute in enhancing this ability by deploying modern technologies and moving away from the burden of searching though mounds of paperwork to pull out the necessary information and data."
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