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to the data contained in manuals, charts and reference documents. Commercial and military aviation soon caught on, and

Apple’s consumer electronic device has become a nearly de facto standard in many cockpits as of early 2014. Not even Steve Jobs could have predicted such a takeover in little more than three short years. Alaska Airlines was the fi rst commercial airline to use iPads by moving from paper-based fl ight operations content to delivery of fl ight operations information in April 2011. Today, many large airlines, business aviation operations and private pilots make use of some type of tablet device in a cockpit, as well as such devices being used in cabin, passenger, airport or maintenance functions. Apple iPad tablets using the Apple iOS platform (which is a mobile operating system initially created from the iPhone but was extended for tablets and iPods as well) competed with the emerging EFB market that primarily used Microsoft Windows-based laptops. EFBs started out as individual pilots carried aboard their personal computers in the early 1990s, and used commercial off -the-shelf software (Microsoft Excel and Word) to implement such tasks as fi lling out forms, and weight and balance calculations. These unoffi cial laptop PCs were more powerful than many of the fl ight management system computers in aircraft back then, and a new industry segment was born from these early adopters. EFB suppliers soon began using more-stable versions of MS Windows in their products, as well as other operating systems.

Cabin management systems had also begun to adopt the use of portable PCs, tablets and smartphones in recent years. Once again, Apple iPads and iPods had initially dominated in this niche. The reason for the incursion by iOS-based devices was simple: the elegant and intuitive user interface. For a small price per device, you could install these where needed and have wireless connectivity for paying customers, as well as manage cabin operations. These devices were much cheaper than the customized computing devices from aviation vendors and were easier to support, manage and use. The key motivation behind the iPad succeeding in

aviation was using a navigation tool in general aviation (primarily), and taking on some of the tasks of EFBs (replacing paper manuals and charts, etc.). However, the main reason that tablets have become so popular in aviation is the same reason that they have done so in the consumer market: simplicity, ease of use and low cost. While few of the higher-end tablets approach the throughput of a low-end laptop, most people do not need this much capability to browse the Internet, transmit e-mails/texts/social media updates, and play a few games. Flight crews also need a simplifi ed device that performs a few basic tasks and does not require the user to be an IT expert to solve software problems. This makes tablets an ideal basic computing device for many people and many business functions.

05 2014 16 This is why the Apple iPad was such a hit from the start.

Is it overpriced for what you get? Yes. Is it compatible with the myriad consumer and business software already out there? No — but you do not need much technical support most of the time, and you do not need access to most of the existing software on every computing device at your disposal. Quite simply, it is ‘good enough’ and has nice pretty packaging at a rather low price. According to John Zimmerman, vice president at

Sporty’s Pilot Shop and publisher of the iPad Pilot News (, “General aviation pilots have adopted the iPad faster than any other industry.” Zimmerman also states that iPads do exactly what pilots need, namely have a large screen, long battery life, an intuitive user interface and good form factor. Aviation is also used to paying much more for other devices, so the cost of an iPad and its accessories is essentially a bargain.


Yes. Microsoft is far from being defeated in the battle of the smart devices (phones and tablets) but is clearly far behind. Microsoft earned a big victory in late 2013 by having Delta Airlines issue its Surface 2 RT tablets running Windows 8.1 to 11,000 pilots for use as EFBs, and its Lumia Windows smartphones (a.k.a. Nokia) to all fl ight attendants for use as a point-of-sales (POS) solution for seat upgrades and cabin purchases. The Microsoft Surface 2 tablets have recently been

qualifi ed for FAA authorization for Class 1 EFB needs for all phases of fl ight. With this action, Microsoft has been clearly pushing its tablets and Windows 8 platform into emerging market niches such as aircraft. You can imagine that the boys and girls in Redmond will grind out more victories in aviation — especially since most large companies are married to the MS Windows platform in their offi ces and IT centers. This fact alone should draw in more aviation customers once Windows 8 (or a follow-on version) begins to dislodge earlier versions of Windows in their corporate environments.

Is Android Becoming the New Windows? Global connected device shipments broken down by operating system* (in million units)

Android 1,712.6 1,422.5 1,102.6 877.9 503.7 1,371.8 1,254.4 1,367.3 Windows iOS/Mac OS Others

2012 =

This chart shows global shipments of connected devices, i.e. PCs, mobile phones, tablets and hypermobiles, broken down by operating system. @StatistaChart Source: Gartner


2013 * incl. PCs, mobile phones, tablets and other ultramobiles ** forecast




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