Here’s Why I’m Not Impressed by Alaska Airlines’ iPad Rollout

Discussion in 'Alaska Airlines | Mileage Plan' started by sobore, Jun 2, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://www.business2community.com/c...ressed-by-alaska-airlines-ipad-rollout-035879

    I love Alaska Airlines. Good service, great prices, and the best frequent-flyer/mileage program in the biz (only wish they flew to more places). But recent news about Alaska’s iPad deployment left me distinctly underwhelmed.
    According to various headlines, Alaska is the first airline to get approval from the FAA to replace its required on-board 25-pound flight manual with an iPad.
    400 MB worth of documents will be stored as a PDF on the iPads that pilots will access via a $4.99 app called GoodReader.
    All of Alaska’s 1,400 pilots will be using the iPads by the middle of June.
    I totally get the convenience of Alaska being able to electronically update the flight manual documents from a single central location, rather than the torturous process of manually replacing individual pages. As well as the space they’ll save in those cramped cockpits. And the 2.4 million pieces of paper they hope to eventually save.
    But some of the other rationale for ROI were suspect: fuel savings (from 25 pounds, really?!), and “fewer back and muscle injuries caused by pilots carrying flight bags” (now we’re really straining (pun intended).
    Also, due to FAA rules about electronic devices, pilots won’t be able to use the iPad during the takeoff and landing phases.
     
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  2. sparxe
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    sparxe Silver Member

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    They'll probably be exempt from that rule, I would think.
     
  3. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    What a pessimistic piece of journalism? :eek:

    25lbs x number of flights per day = some savings in fuel !

    25 lbs does account for possible repetive muscle injury.
     
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  4. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Will this not interfere with the cockpit equipment?
     
  5. sparxe
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    sparxe Silver Member

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    I don't think so. The wireless can be turned off, and from what I've read, newer airlines rarely pick up interference from electronic devices that are not transmitting/receiving data.
     
  6. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    If we can accept fly-by-wire, then it would seem we can accept this as well.

    What happens if the battery runs out? I hope they have chargers on board and AC outlets in the cockpit.

    How long till we see someone playing Angry Birds in the cockpit?
     
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  7. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Forget Angry Birds, I’m more concerned about the pilots watching ‘Cheerleaders in heat’.
     
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  8. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I'm not sure I trust the reliability of an iPad for flight manuals. My iPhone routinely hangs or crashes when opening various apps. Sometimes an app loads and it takes 10-20 seconds before I can actually press any buttons to use it. The iPad is essentially just a large iPhone. What are pilots going to do if there's an emergency? What if the battery dies?

    As much as I like technology, I have never bought an e-book or an e-reader and never plan to. Physical books have a lot of benefits that some people overlook. While I admit e-readers work for some who don't want to lug around something heavy, the reason frequent travelers seem to like them, the drawbacks of an e-reader are exactly why they shouldn't be used in critical situations where reliability is key.
     
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  9. jackal
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    jackal Gold Member

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    Absolutely.

    Airlines have cut tons of other small items to save on fuel, so this is not out of the ordinary at all. By my math,* 25 pounds costs the airline about $8 per flight in fuel. Multiplied by the number of flights Alaska operates per year, and an $8 savings is not an insignificant figure--possibly more than a million dollars per year.

    *Rough math consists of previous figures I came up with for cost-per-pound based on AS's published fuel CASM adjusted to remove aircraft/fuel weight and assuming all of the aircraft in AS's fleet average four average-length segments per day. VERY rough, but I'm sure it's ballpark. ;)
     
  10. ctporter
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    ctporter Silver Member

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    I think there is a vast difference between the viability of one specific app for one specific purpose on a specific piece of equipment than any or all apps for iPads, iTouches, and iPhones. I would further imagine that Alaska will most likely limit the apps the pilots are allowed to load on the iPads, much like how many companies limit the apps you can load onto a company laptop thereby limiting the risks of interference by apps that lock up devices. Even for a back up as a fail safe, a second iPad would still be easier IMHO. (full disclosure: while I do not have an iPad or iPhone, I dearly love my Kindle and use it every single day)
     

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