Flight bags that pilots use to store navigational charts and aircraft operating and reference manuals are probably one of the most un-modern items in the cockpit. They’re heavy, bulky, and contain hundreds of pages that no pilot ever looks forward to skimming through for that one frequency number or details on what exactly that one button does.
Just about this time last year, we saw Delta Airlines take the plunge and replace these flight bags with Microsoft’s Surface 2 tablet, in which they acquired 11,000 units of, making everything digital and much easier to quickly search for the specifics. However, getting anything into the cockpit is no easy matter. Aviation governing bodies such as the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) require all devices to be tested for stability and reliability in all sorts of different environmental and situational conditions.
Yesterday, Microsoft’s latest and greatest Surface Pro 3 tablet gained approval by the FAA and the EASA to be used in commercial airlines during all phases of flight. The Windows 8.1-powered hybrid will also allow for real-time information on weather, wind and turbulence data in-flight. Something obviously impossible with a paper-based solution.
What’s new this time around compared to the Surface 2 introduction to the cockpit is that the Surface Pro 3 will be connected not only to a plane’s power systems, but also to the flight computers, making the device more of an extension than a basic accessory. The exact functions of connecting the device to the flight computers have not been detailed, what we do know is that navAero will build the mount that would allow all this to happen.
Watch the video below to see how Delta Airlines used the Surface 2 in the cockpit last year. We doubt the company will have all those tablets for the SP3 but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until we hear of other airlines that decide to go paperless.