Cockpit Tech Gets a Lift From the iPad

iPad 2

The iPad isn't just just a luxury device for gadget fetishists. The proof may soon be found in airline cockpits, where major airlines are testing out the iPad as a replacement for paper maps and clunky aviation computers.

Last month, the FAA gave Warren Buffett's Executive Jet Management, a private jet company, approval to use the iPad in its cockpits. Now major players like Delta and Alaska Airlines are experimenting with the iPad too, according to Bloomberg. Delta plans to test the iPad next quarter, while Alaska is already experimenting with the device.

Eventually, the airlines speculate that the iPad could completely replace paper maps, which can be difficult to sort through. Think of it this way: if a plane needs to perform an emergency landing, would you rather have the pilot shuffling through papers to find a site or quickly pulling up information on a tablet?

Jeppeson, the division of Boeing that created Executive Jet Management's flight navigation iPad app, wasn't asked by Apple to work on the project. The company was inspired to design the app by professional pilots, many of whom use the iPad in their daily lives. Jeppeson is also working on Android-based software.

Of course, this doesn't mean that Apple isn't pursuing the business market. If Apple's "iPad in Business" website is to be believed, the device is already being used in police departments, dentist offices, hotels, and medical rehab facilities. Some schools are even handing out iPads to all incoming students. Apple's total corporate sales could hit $11.3 billion this year, thanks in part to boosts from the iPad--and, perhaps, from pilots.

Read More: Most Innovative Companies: Apple

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Ariel Schwartz can be reached by email.

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