Delta is going to equip its pilots with Microsoft's upcoming Surface 2 tablet as an Electronic Flight Bag. This is expected to save the airline a considerable amount in fuel.
Airlines have begin replacing the paper manuals and maps they require their pilots to carry with tablets after the FAA approved the iPad for use during all phases of a flight in 2011. For example, American Airlines has already deployed thousands of EFBs to its pilots.
Almost two years ago, Delta began investigating using Apple's tablets as an EFB. It's not clear what happened in the intervening months, but the company now says it will use Microsoft's Windows RT 8.1-based Surface 2 instead.
EFBs are essentially just ebook readers, with virtually all other functions of the device disabled, so using the regular version of Windows would be overkill.
The FAA is currently testing the use of the Surface 2 in the cockpit, with approval expected before the end of the year. Delta doesn't seem to be very far along in its development of a Windows EFB, however, as the airline says it doesn't expect to complete the project for two years.
Delta says it will save $13 million a year in fuel from not transporting the current paper flight bags, which can weigh up to 40 pounds. "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," stated Capt. Steve Dickson, Delta's chief of flight operations.
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