ScreenClip(13)Anyone who’s ever used Google Maps with an iPad knows that the device is great for navigation. But now the FAA has reached the same conclusion. On Wired’s “Autopia” blog, Jason Paur reports that the FAA has just allowed a charter jet company to begin using the iPad and aviation chart app Mobile TC as a substitute for bulky, heavy paper charts.

The app and device underwent rigorous safety testing to convince the FAA to allow it, and its use will require having a second approved electronic device (probably another iPad) in the cockpit for redundancy. An FCC spokesman made it clear that the iPad was not given any special treatment—it was evaluated in the same way as other electronic chart devices, such as the more expensive dedicated “electronic flight bags” currently available. And the ruling only applies to one particular company, though it does pave the way for more companies to start the same process.

The FAA is already seeing more requests to use the iPad in the cockpit. Alaska Airlines began testing the iPad back in November and there are about 100 pilots currently evaluating the device according to spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey. She says in addition to the convenience, there is a practical weight saving aspect to using the iPad as well, “it’s replaced about 25 pounds of manuals and charts.”

The current version of the software just displays the same charts that Jeppesen, the company behind Mobile TC, has produced in paper form for years, but a company spokesman suggests future versions could make use of built-in iPad systems such as GPS and Internet connectivity to provide “door-to-door management” of navigation, weather, scheduling, and other pilot concerns as well.


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