Wednesday, November 14, 2012

American Airlines details plans to expand the use of mobile devices inflight

I was on an American Airlines flight yesterday from New York to Dallas to attend a business meeting and I was reading the inflight magazine, American Way, which had a great article on how the airline is going mobile.   While I was familiar with the "iPads in the cockpit" project, I was unfamiliar with the effort to issue flight attendants with Samsung Galaxy Notes and mechanics with Samsung Galaxy tablets.

From the article:

For starters, we have made some exciting decisions in the past few months. We have become the first commercial carrier to receive FAA approval to use the Apple iPad in the cockpit during all phases of flight. Every American pilot will receive an iPad, which will become their Electronic Flight Bag (EFB). After months of research, evaluation, testing and approvals, we intend for the devices to help flight crews perform flight management tasks more easily and much more efficiently than before. The EFB will reduce or replace paper-based reference material often found in a pilot’s carry-on kitbag, including manuals and charts. 

At less than two pounds, the tablet device contains as much information as a kitbag but weighs far less. By removing a 35-pound kitbag from each American plane, we estimate that we’ll save $1.2 million of fuel annually based on current fuel prices — that’s huge! This initiative will help vastly improve the work environment for pilots, increase fuel efficiency, reduce American’s reliance on paper products and ultimately aid in our overall efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

You may also notice in the next few months that your flight attendant will be using a sleeker, more modern device onboard the aircraft. Later this year, we will begin to roll out Samsung Galaxy Note® devices to every flight attendant. At 5.3 inches, the device is small enough to fit into a flight attendant’s palm but has a clear, crisp screen that provides excellent readability. As part of the tablet rollout, flight attendants will be able to record premium class food and beverage preferences and have the ability to see important customer data like seat assignments, a customer’s loyalty program status, connecting gate information, delay information and requests for special services.

American plans to be the first airline to offer a tablet that combines the customer data functionality with the point-of-sale functionality to every flight attendant, pending FAA approval.

We will continue to introduce new functionalities to the devices over time to better your flying experience with us, so we encourage you to stay tuned.

We have also been in test mode with our mechanics teams and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 devices. The tablets allow our operations teams to manage tasks, communicate with engineers, view technical information and review maintenance history planeside. Our ramp crews are also using mobile technology, giving them the opportunity to scan baggage and cargo planeside, ensure bags are correctly loaded and improve the accuracy of weight and balance numbers. All of this not only saves us time, but helps us improve our on-time and customer service performance!
Source: American Way Magazine

In a related note, I'm a frequent American Airlines flier and a big fan of their mobile application for Apple iPhone that allows me to check-in, monitor flights and eliminate the need for a hardcopy boarding pass at many airports.   Yesterday's flight was the first opportunity to use Apple's new Passbook application, released with iOS 6,  to store the electronic boarding pass and it worked great.


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