Air Force Might Replace Manuals with 18,000 iPads

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The U.S. Air Mobility Command (AMC) is looking for a few good tablets (with apologies to the Marine Corps) to replace bulky flight manuals and flight charts. A logistics arm of the Air Force—or the “airline for the Air Force,” as noted in the comments below—the AMC announced that it will be purchasing, “a minimum of 63 and a maximum of 18,000, iPad 2, Brand Name or Equal devices” as part of its effort to reduce its reliance on paper manuals.

U.S. Air Force & the iPad

The announcement was first spotted by NextGov (via 9to5Mac), which first reported the plan as one to specifically buy iPad 2 models from Apple. Lt. Col. Glen Roberts of the AMC has since clarified that it is looking for, “a tablet device, not necessarily an iPad.”

The issue of replacing flight manuals with iPads (or other tablets, but…you know, iPads) was first latched onto by commercial airlines who saw the devices as a great way to lower costs. Tablets not only weigh less, they can be kept up to date far more easily and much more cheaply than printing new manuals.

United Airlines, for instance, announced in August that it would save 326,000 gallons of fuel per year by using iPads instead of printed manuals. Delta announced its own iPad program in August, and other airlines have been working on their own programs.

This same sentiment was voiced in December by Maj. Gen. Rick Martin, director of operations for the AMC, who said, “Moving from a paper-based to an electronically based flight publication system will not only enhance operational effectiveness, it can also save the Department of Defense time and money.”

One issue facing the military when it comes to moving to a device like the iPad is that iOS hasn’t yet been certified by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology. According to NextGov, security certification for Apple’s mobile operating system isn’t expected until August of 2012 at the earliest.

The AMC’s plan to buy up to 18,000 tablets could, therefore, take until sometime after that before it is implemented.

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Comments

wab95

I suppose this means that the US Air Force’s tolerance for paper-based flight manuals has tanked.

iJack

“Tablets not only way less, they can be kept up to date far more easier and much more cheaply than it is to print new manuals.”

Oh dear.  Where to start.

It’s WEIGH less, not “way less.”
And for “far more easier,” you have choice.  Either “far easier,” or “far more easily.”

Lee Dronick

I suppose that the USAF likes the idea of cloud based computing.

Lee Dronick

??wab95 said on February 8th, 2012 at 7:29 PM:
I suppose this means that the US Air Force?s tolerance for paper-based flight manuals has tanked.

Paper manuals have been grounded.

iJack

I suppose this means that the US Air Force?s tolerance for paper-based flight manuals has tanked.

Actually Wab, it’s the approach plates and sectional charts that have to be updated frequently (every few months by FAA rule), the manual doesn’t change much once you have the plane.  The former can be downloaded in a snap, without the hassle of removing and adding new ones in a half-dozen different ring binders.

Paper sectionals are great for flight planning, but they’re a pain in a small crowded cockpit.  Moving map displays coupled to GPS do away with ALL that annoying paper.

paikinho

I don’t suppose that this will mean I can get F-35 flight manuals at the app store?

Fastflyer

I remember when we received our first Cromemco CS-250 Super-Microcomputer in the squadron. It seemed like magic to complete mission planning on one of those puppies. Later we got a whole raft of Zenith Z-100’s and everyone had access to computing power. It inspired me to buy my first computer, an Apple II+ with expanded memory card and two floppy drives. It set me back over $3,000 1981 dollars. My first Mac was an LC III pizza box. Fond memories.

wab95

Paper manuals have been grounded.

Torpedoed.

Fastflyer

Lee Dronick said:

Paper manuals have been grounded.

Torpedoed.

Shot down maybe, but never torpedoed.

Lee Dronick

Shot down maybe, but never torpedoed.

Photon torpedoed.

@iJack. I suppose that they already have e-manuals. As to replacing maps. I worked in ship navigation and remember editing charts with pen and ink, adding a buoy and such, until a new edition was published.

wab95

Shot down maybe, but never torpedoed.

My use of non-flight combat metaphors (‘tanked’, ‘torpedoed’) was meant to indicate that, with the US Air Force switching to tablet format, dare I say, change is ‘in the air’.

Lee Dronick

My use of non-flight combat metaphors (?tanked?, ?torpedoed?) was meant to indicate that, with the US Air Force switching to tablet format, dare I say, change is ?in the air?.

Many military aircraft have “drop tanks” and some of them do, or did, drop anti shipping torpedoes. Not to forget ground attack, including anti armor, aircraft such as the Warthog

But I get your point, putting the iPad in the cockpit is a “ground changer” for the USAF.

gslusher

“The logistics arm of the Air Force…”

Uh, no. The Air Mobility Command is the “airline” of the Air Force, operating transports and cargo aircraft like the C-17. It is the successor to the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) and the Military Airlift Command (MAC). The “logistics arm” of the Air Force is the Air Force Materiel Command, which resulted from a merger of the Air Force Logistics Command and the Air Force Systems Command (the R&D and systems acquisition arm). I was never in AFLC or AFMC, but did spend a “few” years (about 15 of my 22 years in the Air Force) in the Systems Command, as well as time in the then-Tactical Air Command, Strategic Air Command/Air Combat Command, and the US Naval Academy.

It’s not clear from the article just WHICH sort of manuals will be replaced by tablets. By far the largest number of manuals in AMC would be related to maintenance.

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