Nearly six years ago, in April 2010, Apple began delivering the iPad, and since then pilots have adopted mobile devices seemingly faster than any other new technology introduced in aviation. While many pilots were first exposed to this kind of technology with purpose-built electronic flight bags (EFBs), the iPad and then Android tablets introduced much more powerful, less costly and easier-to-upgrade devices that quickly made dedicated EFBs almost obsolete (although they are still used in many large aircraft).
John Zimmerman, writing in the Air Facts blog, believes that the iPad is not popular just because it is convenient and relatively inexpensive but also because it has made flying safer. He pointed out that for pilots who fly different aircraft, each equipped with unique avionics systems, “Tablets democratize avionics. If Garmin adds an incredible new feature to the G1000, the vast majority of pilots don’t have access to it. With tablet apps, though, every pilot can have that new feature overnight–often for free. Cutting-edge avionics are a reality for anyone with a $500 tablet and a $75 app, not just owners of new airplanes.”