American Airlines began issuing iPads with a dedicated app to pilots and copilots back in 2013 to replace heavy paper manuals and flight plans. Yesterday, those iPads crashed, grounding dozens of planes, according to Quartz.
A passenger on Flight #1654 from Dallas to Austin told Quartz that as the pilot prepared for takeoff, both the pilot’s and copilot’s iPads crashed, so they could not access their flight plan. Another passenger from Flight #1654 told Quartz that the pilots said the crashes were happening across American Airlines’ 737 planes, though a different passenger told The Verge that crashes were happening randomly across American Airlines’ fleet. Similar reports appeared across Twitter in New York and Chicago, and American Airlines apparently temporarily grounded several dozen planes, reports Quartz.
The iPad rollout was part of American Airlines’ “Electronic Flight Bag” modernization. “Obviously the iPad is very light compared to 40 pounds of kit bag,” says American Airlines Captain David H. Clark in a video promoting the switch (see below). The software and data for the app used by pilots and copilots was built by Jeppeson, a unit of Boeing Digital Aviation.
It is unclear whether the iPads crashed as a result of the app software, and the extent of the groundings is not known. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Government Accountability Office exposed commercial airplanes’ vulnerability to hacking via their in-flight Wi-Fi, especially if the cockpit and cabin were connected to the same Wi-Fi router.