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US Air Force Buys iPads To Replace Flight Bags 348

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new-bag dept.
redletterdave writes "Following the precedent set by commercial airliners, the U.S. Air Force plans to buy up to 18,000 iPads for its Air Mobility Command (AMC), replacing heavy flight bags with light and efficient Apple iPad 2s for the crews that fly cargo aircraft. The devices will reportedly be used by the crews on the C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster aircraft. There are several benefits to using electronic flight bags instead of physical versions. For one, the iPad can instantly update charts electronically, while the AMC would require flying charts get reprinted every 28 days to stay up-to-date. By cutting publication printing and distribution costs, and exchanging 70 pounds of paper for a 1.3-pound iPad, the Air Force can save some serious cash, including more than $1.2 million worth of fuel per year."
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US Air Force Buys iPads To Replace Flight Bags

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  • The people who have been sniffing around Apple's supply chain say that the iPad3 will have a 2048x1572 screen, etc ... so why not get the iPad2 cheaper, or get the iPad3 for its better display, etc.?

  • Tablet, not iPad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by clickforfreepizza (2465094) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @06:45PM (#38974591)

    TFA specifies once that in truth, they are looking at tablets, not just iPads. Than it's back to Apple this and iPad that. If it indeed is a forgone conclusion, they should have explained why. That's some mighty fine journalism, there. Also, they mention iOS isn't certified yet; don't know if any tablet is.

  • Re:Hrmm.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tompaulco (629533) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @06:47PM (#38974617) Homepage Journal
    The FAAs position with other carriers has been that there has to be an alternate source of the information, and at least one company has gotten by with a second ipad as that source. So, I imagine that the Air Force will have to either continue to lug around the paper, or the will have to have two ipads. Personally, i wouldn't find it worth the hassle and would just use the paper charts.
    Alternatively, they could buy an actual piece of equipment designed from the ground up and rigorously tested for exactly this purpose and which is permanently in the cockpit and can also be updated via subscription services. But then they wouldn't have toy ipads to play with at taxpayers expense.
  • Re:Battery (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @06:56PM (#38974779) Homepage Journal

    Great opportunity for the Chinese government to backdoor via Foxconn, etc.

  • Re:Battery (Score:5, Interesting)

    by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @06:57PM (#38974785) Journal

    You're not an Air Force veteran, are you?

    Yeah, it's actually quite reasonable to question whether the issue of battery life and providing mains power in an airplane has even been considered. It's fairly routine for system acquisition agencies to overlook little technicalities like this.

  • Re:Hrmm.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tompaulco (629533) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @07:09PM (#38974973) Homepage Journal
    They are not cheaper than an ipad. In fact they are much more expensive. However, they are designed for use in flight environments, they have input methods specifically designed for use in flight, they are rigorously tested for interference with other devices and certified for cockpit use by the FAA. They also have larger, easier to read displays that are designed to be used in cockpits where it can be either very dark, or the sun can be shining directly on it. They are also wired into the electronics system, can integrate with the autopilot and other aircraft devices, and are not loose in the cockpit. Finally, another plus is that many and possibly all C-5 and C-17 aircraft in operation already have them.
  • by bennomatic (691188) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @07:14PM (#38975071) Homepage
    I think the point is that if there are any power ports available--and I don't know if there are, but if they are--it shouldn't be difficult to make an adaptor that can peel off 5V DC and spit it out of a USB-shaped plug.
  • Re:Battery (Score:5, Interesting)

    by limaxray (1292094) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @07:34PM (#38975355) Homepage
    1) EFBs typically run on ship power during flight
    2) An aircraft will have at least 2 EFBs in operation at a time - pilot and copilot. Some aircraft have a 3rd EFB for a center screen.
    3) Many of the dedicated EFB tablets that have been in use for years are powered by NiMh batteries (out of fear of Li-Ion) and last less than an hour on a charge. Since they rarely run on batteries, this has not been much of an issue to the best of my knowledge.
  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:27AM (#38978287) Journal

    I had a hard time believing they'd go for an iPad over a more rugged device, but the article says Special Operations Command already did so. iPads are consumer hardware. From Apple's specs: [apple.com]

            * Operating temperature: 32 to 95 F (0 to 35 C)
            * Nonoperating temperature: -4 to 113 F (-20 to 45 C)
            * Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
            * Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet (3000 m)

    Even for a cargo plane, that seems pretty limited. I know they have at least some climate control in flight, but don't they park the planes in arctic and desert environments too? Don't they need the checklists before they start the plane up? Or do they keep them running all the time and only shut down at their home base?

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer

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