Microsoft to supply 11,000 Delta pilots with Surface 2 tablets

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Devices to come with a custom-built app that will contain thousands of electronic documents, charts, navigational aids and checklists

Airline Delta is supplying 11,000 of its pilots with Microsoft’s Surface 2 tablet, replacing the 17kg flight bags they currently carry.

The Surface 2, which was announced last month, will come built-in with the custom-built FliteDeck Pro app, which will contain thousands of electronic documents, charts, navigational aids, checklists and other key reference materials.

Delta will initially roll out the device to pilots on its Boeing 757 and 767 fleets later this year, subject to approval by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It expects all of its cockpits will be able to use the tablets by the end of next year.

Flight bags contain the information needed to fly the aircraft safely, consisting of thousands of documents including aircraft and system manuals, maps, technology logs, weight and balance sheets, details of the cargo and passengers on board, weather maps and information on the departure and arrival airports.

Delta has estimated the move from flight bags to the Surface 2 will save it $13 million per year in fuel and associated costs, in turn reducing fuel usage by an estimated 1.2 million gallons per year. The tablet will also cut the airline’s paper usage by 7.5 million sheets annually.

Microsoft Surface general manager Brian Hall said: “This announcement demonstrates Delta’s absolute commitment to bringing the best in technology innovation into their flight operations. The full HD Surface screen and ten-hour battery life will be perfect for flights where Delta pilots will get seamless real-time data and visualization in a variety of lighting conditions. And then they can be productive off the plane with Microsoft Office and our click-in keyboard. We look forward to seeing how Delta amazes us with its Surfaces.”

Delta’s senior vice president of operations Capt. Steve Dickson added: “Delta’s electronic flight bag running on Surface 2 continues the technological strides Delta has been making to give our crews the best tools to keep them flying safely and efficiently. This intuitive device puts key information at our pilots’ fingertips right when they need it. By eliminating paper, we’ll reduce clutter and minimise time spent looking for flight information, allowing our pilots the opportunity to develop greater situational awareness in the air and on the ground.

The move to the Surface 2 follows the airline’s deal in August to begin using 19,000 Nokia smartphones in August, the majority of which are the Lumia 820, enabling flight attendants to access customer and flight information while using Microsoft’s ‘Dynamics for Retail’ platform for on-board customer purchases.

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