Perhaps it is not surprising that mil/aero industry news in April, which included both Earth Day and Arbor Day, had an environmental focus. In particular, news coming out of organizations within the U.S. Federal Government, including the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), centered on recent environmental efforts to lessen the carbon footprint and environmental impact of common activities.
The DoD and FAA, both of which are notorious for using and requiring mountains of printed information—from frequently updated charts and maps to comprehensive volumes of training manuals—are going digital. In doing so, they aim to lessen their significant and costly investment in printed materials. Rather than hard-copy manuals, printed aviation route maps and aeronautical charts, pilots and mechanics, for example, will be armed with tablet computers.
Much of the industry has responded with “it’s about time,” but others are leery of the change—particularly if it involves a move to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS), rather than military-standard (MIL-STD) computers, especially given that the latter is built from the ground up to be both rugged and secure.
FAA officials recently set an important precedent for the aviation community when it permitted the use of the Jeppesen Mobile TC App for iPad as an alternative to printed aeronautical charts. Specifically, the FAA granted Executive Jet Management, a provider of worldwide jet charter and aircraft management services, the use of Apple’s iPad tablet computer and the Jeppesen Mobile TC App, a mobile application, as the sole reference for electronic charts, including during taxi, takeoff, and landing.
A three-month, in-flight evaluation—managed by Executive Jet Management and Jeppesen, with engagement of the FAA, as well as local and national Electronic Flight Bag authorities—took place prior to permission being granted. Still, this geek is dubious whether he would knowingly put his life in the hands of an iPad. Would you?