Surface Tablets To Replace Flight Bags For Delta Air Lines Pilots
October 1, 2013

Delta To Replace Paper Manuals With Microsoft Surface 2 Tablets

[ Watch the Video: Pilots Will Take Surface tablets To The Skies ]

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Delta Air Lines announced on Monday that it would be replacing the reference manuals and maps currently used by the company’s pilots with the newly-announced Microsoft Surface 2 tablets.

According to PCMag’s Angela Moscaritolo, the airline is planning to deploy tablets to its 11,000 pilots as part of an effort to eliminate paper flight manuals and navigation charts. Delta is planning to switch over later on this year, first with pilots flying the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 fleets, and the company expects to be 100 percent paperless by the end of 2014.

“The airline is hoping for Federal Aviation Administration approval next year to use the tablets throughout a flight, and it hopes to be using the devices on all of its other planes by the end of next year,” said Joshua Freed of the Associated Press (AP). “One reason Delta picked a Microsoft device was that it's easier to give pilots separate sections for company and personal use, said Steve Dickson, Delta's senior vice president for flight operations.”

The Surface 2, which was announced by Microsoft on September 23, will run on the Windows RT 8.1 platform and will provide flight crews real-time access to essential tools and resources such as key charts, reference documents and checklists, the Redmond, Washington-based company explained in a statement.

Delta expects that it will be able to save as much as $13 million annually in fuel and related costs by switching to the new tablet computer, which will be released on October 22, according to the Wall Street Journal. The devices will replace a 38-pound bag of books, maps and charts currently used by pilots, and will make Delta the third US airline (behind American and United, which use iPads) to make the switch to tablets.

“Delta’s electronic flight bag running on Surface 2 continues the technological strides Delta has been making to give our crews the best tools to keep them flying safely and efficiently,” Capt. Steve Dickson, Delta’s senior vice president – Flight Operations, said in a statement. “This intuitive device puts key information at their fingertips right when they need it. By eliminating paper, we’ll reduce clutter and minimize time spent looking for flight information allowing our pilots the opportunity for greater situational awareness in the air and on the ground.”

“The integration of the electronic flight bag is part of Delta’s broader move to upgrade flight deck equipment, deploy technology enhancements and take advantage of airspace modernization efforts,” he added. “With these improvements, we’re able to reduce the airline’s environmental impact while providing a great deal of flexibility to continue to add mobile technology solutions into our flying operations.”

The Surface 2, which will release next month alongside the Surface Pro 2, will carry a starting price tag of $449 and promises battery life of up to 10 hours. The Surface 2 will include a free version of Microsoft’s Office software, including Outlook, Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Both tablets will come with 200 gigabytes of free online storage through SkyDrive for two years, along with free calls and Wi-Fi hotspots through Skype for one year.