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Electronic Flight Bags': Air Force Wants Tablets in the Cockpit Too

"...enhance operational effectiveness..."

With the first commercial airlines beginning to bring iPads into the cockpit to replace loads paperwork consisting maps and charts, the U.S. Air Force is seeking to cut down on bulky binders too.

Popular Science reports that the Air Force will be buying up to 18,000 iPad 2s or a similar, equivalent tablet, which is it calling "electronic flight bags":

"Moving from a paper-based to an electronically-based flight publication system will not only enhance operational effectiveness, it can also save the Department of Defense time and money," Maj. Gen. Rick Martin, the director of operations for the Air Mobility Command, said in a statement.

In Dec. 2011, American Airlines was approved as the first airline by the FAA to cut out carrying the 40 pounds of paper work by using the iPads. In doing so, it expects to save up to $1 million on fuel each year by reducing the weight. Popular Science reports that Air Force flight binders can weigh up to 70 pounds and time is often wasting updating charts every 28 days.

The military has been testing the tablet at Travis Air Force Base in California for use in C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster. Popular Science also notes that nearly 3,000 tablets will be used by Air Force Special Ops Command crews.

Update: This post was updated to include that the Air Force is considering all devices that meet its requirements, not just the iPad. An Air Force spokesperson said in an email "AMC's request for proposals will solicit offers from any vendors who can meet the requirements, as they are entitled to a fair and open competition. Once the RFP closes, all offers on the table will be considered, and the right decision will be made for AMC's mission. Until then, any reference to a brand decision is inaccurate and premature."

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