The iPad Now Has Overflight Dominance

Industry News Comments (8)

In air defense and reconnaissance strategy, establishing air dominance or “Overflight” is a key element in any successful campaign. Well, it’s clear that the Apple iPad now has established Overflight on the other tablets in the marketplace. With entries like the Blackberry Playbook looking lackluster, and the HP Touchpad being sold at firesale prices, the iPad just scored another victory.

Much like the spaceshuttle, the modern jet airplane is one of the ultimate symbols of mobility in today’s world. Just as Orville and Wilbur Wright revolutionized travel in the 20th century, one airline carrier is hoping to make a significant change to it by making the airplane even more mobile, in a way. United Continental Holdings has announced this week, it would be deploying 11,000 iPads to all United and Continental pilots over the next several months, using the tablets to store manual and flight documents. This just in-time learning and performance support is estimated to save the airline carrier more than $1 million annually.

The iPads, included as part of the pilots’ electronic flight bags (EFB), will replace documents such as operating manuals, navigation charts and other reference materials that pilots have to carry aboard with them. Currently, each pilot typically carries a flight bag containing 12,000 sheets of paper, which tips the scales at a whopping 38 pounds.

Standing in the green corner, the iPad weighs in at less than 1.5 pounds and will result in saving more than 16 million sheets of paper per year, the equivalent of 1,900 trees. Because of the weight decrease, United anticipates saving 326,000 gallons of jet fuel per year. At the current price of $2.98 per gallon, this will equal about $1 million. United will save an additional estimated $127,000 in paper per year, assuming they buy Office Depot’s box of copy paper for $39.99 (and not factoring in bulk discounts). Since paper costs vary, it’s hard to tell exactly how much they’ll save.

The price of jet fuel has continually increased since 2000, according to an analysis of data from the Research and Innovative Technology Association (RITA) Bureau of Transportation statistics. It’s already up 43 percent from just over a year ago, and data from the International Air Transport Association indicates it will stay on the rise.

Savings aside, pilots will also increase efficiency. The iPads come with Jeppesen Mobile FliteDeck, a full-color app that displays information such as navigation information and geo-referenced terminal charts. No longer will pilots have to rifle through 12,000 pages worth of information when it’s just a few taps away. This increases performance and ultimately, safety.

The iPad costs $499. Buying 11,000 at that price would cost United $5.5 million, so they wouldn’t actually save money until about the sixth year. The return on investment is a little on the long side here, but more economization will occur as reprints and document replacement and retention plans are reworked to factor in the digital distribution of these learning materials.

After merging with Continental Airlines in 2010, United and Continental combined are atop United States airline carriers with a market share of about 17 percent and revenues of about $96 billion annually. When extrapolating this sort of mobile deployment across other carriers globally, it’s easy to envision just what an impact these devices can make on an industry. Millions of gallons of jet fuel could be saved, tens of thousands of trees and potentially many lives as well. That may be the best return on investment of all.

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Adam Bockler is the communications manager for Float, responsible for all of Float's marketing initiatives. In addition, Adam is a certified DDP Yoga Level 1 instructor, a certified personal trainer, a martial arts instructor, and a graduate of the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy.

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On August 25, 2011
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8 Responses to The iPad Now Has Overflight Dominance

  1. Martin Brown says:

    This is a great article demonstrating the benefits of mobile learning and performance support … and nice ROI figures too!

  2. Excellent write-up! Really appreciated the ‘weighty’ facts on the benefits of the iPad over paper. We have seen similar benefits with plumbing and landscaping clients using the mobility of the iPad in conjunction with the cloud to produce and access quotes, pricing guides, photo galleries and use drawing tools to communicate concepts and potential ideas. Bring on more innovation using the cloud and iPads I say.

    • Adam Bockler says:


      I have some questions for you, Nicole, if you don’t mind me asking…

      When did you start using the iPads? What were the pros and cons when you decided you wanted to go that route and how long did it take you to reach the decision? What are some examples of apps are you using?

  3. I’m happy to answer your questions:
    1. We started using the iPad the very day they were released. In fact within 2 days of purchasing we were setting up a client with one and showing him how to access data in the Cloud using the iPad instead of his computer, resulting in the ability to become mobile and ditch all the paperwork he usually carried with him.
    2. We had already made the decision several years previously to move to ‘The Cloud’ as a means of operating our business. The iphone of course was a first step back then to using mobile technology. So when news of the iPad came and some research into alternatives, potential limitations, longevity of battery power & of course the types of Apps available, it really didn’t take long to see the huge potential. There were plenty of naysayers and those watching in disbelief waiting to see what would happen and whether we would have egg on our face. I’m pleased to say most of those same people now have iPad2’s and are regularly asking for advice and providing us with new challenges to overcome.
    3. The apps I use the most on my iPad include: Dropbox, iCabMobile, Google Maps, Googlemail, Tom Tom, ithoughtsHD, Pages, Skype, Instapaper, Calcbot, Battery magic, SignMyPad, and Pocket Informant. Now of course the problem is in deciding which app to choose. Then it becomes more important that the use of them is of true benefit and does in fact make life easier.

    We ( also specialize in the development of web applications that address clients real business needs using and other Cloud platforms. Currently we are assisting businesses in the desert regions of Australia to leverage cloud and mobile technology in order to bring connection and advantages missing when you literally live and work remotely.

    • Adam Bockler says:

      Thanks for providing your example, Nicole!

      Glad to see Zymosys is understanding the power of mobile technology. Keep us updated with how you’re doing. Does your company have a Twitter account where we can follow you?

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