American Airlines Pilots Get Nod to Use iPad During Landings, Takeoffs


American Airlines pilots will soon be allowed to use iPads in the cockpit, inches away from critical gauges, even during takeoff and landing. However, for passengers, the old rule that devices be turned off during those times still stands.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday granted American Airlines pilots approval to use the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) tablet instead of heavy paper flight manuals in the cockpit starting Friday, according to the New York Times.

The approval comes after months of rigorous testing by AMR’s (NYSE:AMR) American Airlines.

The rule that has barred passengers from using electronic devices -- anything from a tablet to a calculator -- during landings and takeoffs was originally made to protect cross signals from interfering with avionics.

However, the latest approval for pilots suggests devices with electrical pulses may not have as much of an impact on cockpit electronics as the FAA led on.

The FAA said it has limited the number of approved devices in the cockpit to two, one for each pilot, which is a much different scenario then allowing all passengers to use mobile devices simultaneously, which could add up to dozens or even hundreds of devices, according to the Times.

American Airlines will begin iPad operations on B-777 aircraft, soon to be followed across all other fleets. While the AMR subsidiary is the only carrier to be approved for iPad operations in all phases of flight, United Continental (NYSE:UAL), Alaska Air (NYSE:ALK) and UPS (NYSE:UPS) are also reviewing the option.

The use of light iPads as opposed to heavy paper manuals that can weigh up to 40 pounds is expected to save on fuel costs in the long term. An American spokesperson predicted they could save the carrier as much as 500,000 gallons of fuel a year.

Meanwhile, American says it will be the first to offer Samsung Galaxy Tab devices onboard select flights in lieu of heavy screens and individual entertainment systems.

The device, which runs on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android system, will be on board American’s first and business class cabins on certain New York to California and some other  transcontinental flights.