AS YOU QUEUE anxiously on the jet bridge, you pull out your tablet to see how much battery you’ve got left. Then you check your kids’ tablets—this is a long flight, and those game- and movie-filled screens will be a welcome, necessary distraction at 35,000 feet. And if you look carefully as you step onto the plane, you might catch your pilots doing the same thing.
Don’t freak—even with autopilot’s help, human aviators aren’t allowed to kick back for a Lord of the Rings marathon or accept your Words With Friends challenge. Just like you need your tablet to get you through the flight with your sanity intact, the pilots need their tablets to get you wherever you’re going.
iPads and other tablets first entered the cockpit about a decade ago, replacing the reams of printouts and books that pilots had to carry in their flight bags, an easy way to save about 100 pounds of weight in an industry where fuel efficiency is incredibly important. But an off-the-shelf tablet is powerful enough to augment a plane’s built-in computer, and airlines keep finding new ways to use that handy power. Pilots can swipe and tap to stay up to date on safety notices, meet the rest of their crew, order fuel, and plot the fastest, most efficient routes.
Fill Her Up
The Route Ahead
Using a tablet, a pilot can pull up detailed maps, and zoom in on the destination airport, or one that they have to divert to.