United Airlines: The paperless cockpit

imageI remember a story told to me by an ex British airways pilot.  He told me that the database that was used to update their lights and beacons around the world was an incredibly old piece of software.

This software predated Windows, predated DOS, and it cost a fortune to maintain every month.  It was expensive mainly because no one had the skills to keep this database up to date any more. He explained that there was no reason for BA to pay a fortune to have a new whizzy database that needed patching and updating all the time.  This one worked really well.  Why update?

I seem to remember that the BA database used a stupidly low amount of memory – less than 640 k I think…

So it was interesting to read that United Airlines have started to put the flight manuals on board planes preloaded onto iPads in the cockpit.  United reckon it will save them a huge amount of fuel each year by going paperless, and save a lot of trees.  16 million sheets of paper is a heck of a lot of trees… and 326,000 gallons of jet fuel per year.  

One day all airlines will operate in this way – which raises the question… Why hasn’t anyone thought of doing this before?  We’ve been heading for the paperless office for years now.  It seems such a logical step to do it on planes too…

Watch this space…

United press release about the paperless cockpit..

Image Credit: United Airlines Holdings

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.