The Federal Aviation Administration is moving with the times, it would seem, as it has just granted the first approval for the use of iPads instead of paper charts for informing airline pilots while on duty. There are already a number of EFB (electronic flight bag) devices in use, however the iPad is by far the cheapest and most portable one that's been validated yet. Executive Jet Management, a charter flight operator, went through three months of testing with the iPad, wherein it was used by 55 pilots on 250 flights, in order to obtain its FAA license to rely exclusively on the Apple tablet for its in-flight mapping data. Other airlines will have to go through the same process in order to dump their big stacks of paper charts for a slinky slate, but the important thing is that the precedent has been set. As to redundancies in case of failure or a software crash, the likeliest scenario is that pilots will carry a spare iPad with them, though there wasn't even a single (software) crash during the trial period -- which also included rapid decompression and electronic interference testing. So there you have it, the iPad's found itself a grown-up job just in time to retire from its throne as consumer sales leader.

[Thanks, Andrew]

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iPad gets approval from FAA to replace paper flight charts and maps