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iPads on the virtual flight deck


It's no secret that the iPad is popular with pilots. TUAW has provided coverage of pilot kneeboards for holding iPads in the cockpit, many iPhone apps for pilots that are now making their way to the big(ger) screen, and we've heard from commenters who fly for a living that they think the iPad may be the greatest thing to appear in the cockpit since Charlton Heston.

One British firm is now starting to use iPads as electronic flight bags, although not on "real" aircraft. The company, Virtual Aviation, operates Airbus and Boeing full-motion flight simulators at London Heathrow and Gatwick airports. While these expensive and realistic simulators are most often used for pilot training, Virtual Aviation also provides public experience flights and corporate team-building events.

With the iPad, Virtual Aviation instructors don't have to lug around their heavy flight cases loaded with maps, charts, manuals, weather reports, flight plans, and checklists. The lightweight iPad displays all of the information. There are a number of photos of Virtual Aviation staff using the iPad to display charts and checklists in a gallery that they've published.

What about you? Do you think iPads can be an effective and useful tool for pilots, or are you concerned that they may be a distraction on the flight deck? Leave your comments below.

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