Is an iPad Really Cockpit Friendly?

AINsafety » April 29, 2013
“Some operators are so caught up in iPad fever they’re not thinking about the complexities the units add to flight operations when they’re used in the cockpit,” says François Lassale, managing director of Vortex FSM.
April 29, 2013, 2:42 PM

Flight operations specialist François Lassale, managing director of Vortex FSM, has cast doubt on the wisdom of pilots’ depending on iPads in the cockpit. “Some operators are so caught up in iPad fever they’re not thinking about the complexities the units add to flight operations when they’re used in the cockpit,” he told AIN.

“I think the FAA and EASA have been caught off guard and simply rushed to catch up,” Lassale noted, warning that “the unit’s simplicity means training on the iPad and its use in the cockpit is seldom given much thought.” In his view, that means crews could be playing with the unit when they should be paying attention elsewhere in the cockpit.

One of Lassale’s primary concerns is that the iPad’s dependence on lithium-ion batteries as a power source is now in question following the serious problems Boeing encountered with larger versions of the batteries on its 787s.

Nonetheless, Lassale acknowledged that iPads can deliver significant benefits, which include a low purchase price, low operational cost and light weight (less than 1.5 pounds). “The iPad display is also crisp and colorful, which many consider one of the unit’s greatest strengths, not to mention the overall increase in situational awareness the device offers,” he commented. “A swipe of a finger or two is all that’s needed to access information and, of course, unlike paper Jepp charts, updating an iPad is a piece of cake.”

 

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matt
on April 29, 2013 - 5:15pm

I just don't see the difference in the "distraction" of searching for a paper chart or manual vs looking it up on an IPad if you have had the FAA mandated training to operate the IPad while in the cockpit. The IPad will still lockup occasionally but nowhere as bad as MS operated units. That is one of the reasons that 2 units are mandated when using them as sole source for charts. As far as the power source I have yet to have a problem with it. I have had the IPad last as long as 2 days of cockpit use before power levels drop to the 30% FAA mandated recharge level before flight. Now if a crewmember is using it for personal purposes while flying that is different. . .

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Park
on April 30, 2013 - 11:27am

Mr. Lassale drawing a comparison between the an iPad and APU li-ion battery and implying a comparable risk is a fairly absurd and alarmist statement.

If the risk of a small device, low capacity device such as an iPad were as susceptible to catching fire, every passenger would be forced to remove the batteries from their devices before boarding planes.

Being distracted by Angry Birds on the other hand would be a legitimate concern...

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Myrddin55
on May 1, 2013 - 9:55am

Mr Park. Are you scientist that specialises in Lion battery design and safety? If you know what effects that lion batteries sustain whilst under constant charge then could you please let us all know - including Boeing so that these mercurial (sic) things can be made safe for us all which includes the 500 or so that get walked on to wide bodied airliners each day. Between 2011 and 2012 4 laptop battery overheats were reported (MOR) in the UK on commercial airliners - cause for concern wouldn't you think?

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F2TH
on November 14, 2013 - 7:04am

As a professional pilot I have used iPads in the cockpit in every type of airplane and find it a very usefull tool and can access information very quickly instead of digging in my kit bag trying to find the right manual to find the information.

Pilots are professionals and would conuct themselfs in that manner not play games use the iPad for something else as stated. These iPads if put into the cockpit must only have the required application for there operation and shoul be reviewed by the Chief Pilot or other designated person from the company to insure that they are incompliant for there operation.

As far as the FAA is concerned they have assured that operators (ie, Part 135 and Part 121) have tested extensively the iPads. As far as the training required for the flight crews to operate the iPad well pilot's are very intellegent people and normally if you just show them an icon they can normally figure it out in a few minutes by themselfs and then they are on there way. There is some companies try to sell the operators a large training package to train all the pilots which is very costly when normally they don't know how to use it even themselfs, I know this for a fact but will not say which company. If the operator wants someone to get trained send that person to them and do the training. This training shoul not be more than one day depending on what applications you put on the iPad. So limit the applications, you can get one application to do everything.

So I say let the pilots use the iPads in the cockpit nothing wrong with them they have been tested enough.

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