Flight operations specialist François Lassale, managing director of Vortex FSM, has cast doubt on the wisdom of pilots’ depending on iPads in the cockpit. “Some operators are so caught up in iPad fever they’re not thinking about the complexities the units add to flight operations when they’re used in the cockpit,” he told AIN.
“I think the FAA and EASA have been caught off guard and simply rushed to catch up,” Lassale noted, warning that “the unit’s simplicity means training on the iPad and its use in the cockpit is seldom given much thought.” In his view, that means crews could be playing with the unit when they should be paying attention elsewhere in the cockpit.
One of Lassale’s primary concerns is that the iPad’s dependence on lithium-ion batteries as a power source is now in question following the serious problems Boeing encountered with larger versions of the batteries on its 787s.
Nonetheless, Lassale acknowledged that iPads can deliver significant benefits, which include a low purchase price, low operational cost and light weight (less than 1.5 pounds). “The iPad display is also crisp and colorful, which many consider one of the unit’s greatest strengths, not to mention the overall increase in situational awareness the device offers,” he commented. “A swipe of a finger or two is all that’s needed to access information and, of course, unlike paper Jepp charts, updating an iPad is a piece of cake.”