Delta to equip 11,000 pilots with Microsoft Surface 2 tablet devices
Delta Air Lines is equipping its 11,000 pilots with the Microsoft Surface 2 tablet, which will be used initially as an electronic flight bag to replace heavy paper-based flight kits containing navigational charts and aircraft operating and reference manuals.
Device rollout to pilots flying the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 fleets will start later this year and all Delta cockpits are projected to be paperless by the end of 2014.
The Surface 2 will run on the Windows RT 8.1 platform and provide flight crews easy access to essential tools and the most up-to-date flight-related resources, including navigational charts, reference documents and checklists while saving the airline $13 million per year in fuel and associated costs.
"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," said Captain Steve Dickson, Delta's senior vice president of flight operations.
Delta expects to receive approval from the FAA to use the tablets during all phases of flight next year, a process that follows an extensive period of testing on board Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 aircraft.
The Surface tablets fully integrate handheld technology in the flight deck, streamlining organization of necessary materials and ensuring continuity of information accessed by pilots while giving them the latest tools to drive operational and cost improvements. The reduction of paper in the cockpit also reduces clutter and allows pilots to spend more time focusing on flying the aircraft as they will benefit from an intuitive user interface that features functions to find information faster, without having to hunt for appropriate manuals in flight bags or page through paper documents.
"This intuitive device puts key information at our pilots' fingertips right when they need it. By eliminating paper, we'll reduce clutter and minimize time spent looking for flight information, allowing our pilots the opportunity to develop greater situational awareness in the air and on the ground," Dickson added.
"The integration of the electronic flight bag is part of Delta's broader move to upgrade flight deck equipment, deploy technology enhancements and take advantage of airspace modernization efforts," continued Dickson. "With these improvements, we're able to reduce the airline's environmental impact while providing a great deal of flexibility to continue to add mobile technology solutions into our flying operations," concluded Dickson.
In the coming years, Delta plans to expand the functionality of the EFB equipment and increase the efficiency of the operation by providing pilots with electronic dispatch and flight release information, access to real-time weather forecasts, up-to-the-minute operational information and dynamic communication with aircraft technicians on the ground.