Delta pilots getting Microsoft tablets

Delta Air Lines is jettisoning pounds of paper navigational charts and manuals from its cockpits, replacing them with electronic versions in Microsoft Surface 2 tablets issued to 11,000 pilots.

The Atlanta-based airline said the tablets will place critical flight data at the fingertips of pilots more quickly, rid the cockpit of clutter and even save on fuel by reducing overall fleet weight.

Steve Dickson, senior vice president for flight operations, said pilots of Boeing 757s and 767s will begin receiving the tablets later this year and all pilots will have them by the end of 2014, pending Federal Aviation Administration approval.

Delta is joining rivals that are going paperless. Southwest, American, United, JetBlue and Alaska airlines reportedly are either using or trying out Apple iPads or other devices. Delta considered tablets made by other companies, including the iPad and devices using Google’s Android operating system, but chose the Microsoft Surface 2 because of its potential for improving communication beyond the flight deck, Dickson said.

“As we develop the functionality of the device there may be customer service applications that we can tailor to individual flights to keep our customers even better informed than they are now, particularly in the event of flight delays or cancellations” he said.

Delta recently equipped 19,000 flight attendants with Nokia Lumia 820 handheld devices that allow them to access customer and flight information and handle customer purchases.

Delta, which would not disclose the pricetag for the tablets, estimates removing the 38 pounds of paper from the cockpit will cut fuel usage by 1.2 million gallons and save the airline $13 million a year.

From an environmental standpoint, Delta said it will reduce carbon emissions and eliminate 7.5 million sheets of paper, which it says will save 900 trees each year.

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