iPad App Grounds Planes

pilots using ipads on flight deck

These days, we all need technology to aid us in our everyday life. There are so many apps on the market right now that you can control your entire life with your smartphone or tablet. It is not just citizens who use apps all the time, though – professionals also need them in their daily activities. It might surprise you to learn that some of the most technical career people, such as pilots, use this type of technology to help them. When the tech fails, though, there are catastrophic consequences.

Until as recently as 2013, the major airlines in the world tended to use paperwork on board. Pilots would often have to carry reams of paperwork with them, which seemed a little unnecessary. That year, American Airlines made the crucial decision to go paperless. The change would save trees and also save a whole load of cash in fuel each year. Aside from being better for the environment, this move made each pilot’s job easier than it was before that time. With the use of an online database and a simple app, the entire staff had access to all the information they needed. With much of the modern world using new high-tech gadgets, it made perfect sense that the professionals would too.

iPad Software

When the company chose to go paperless, they gave each of their pilots an iPad, loaded with all the apps they would need. While in-flight, the tablet means that any pilot can access a wealth of flight information, maps and features. In essence, this technology should mean that there are never any technical glitches. As we all know, though, no software works like clockwork. In fact, much of the time, it can fail you when you need it most.

App glitch (April 2015)

Last month, there was a glitch with the some third-party software, which caused the pilots’ iPads to stop working. American Airlines were quick to point out that the problem was with the app itself, rather than Apple’s software. The app in question was FliteDeck – a specialist piece of software that is only available to people within the industry. Unfortunately, the app stopped working for a brief period, which meant that many planes could not fly. According to sources, a duplicate database in the application caused it to malfunction. Without the app, there was no way for the pilots to continue in their jobs. That in itself just goes to show how much faith people put in technology.

Quick fix

When the problem arose, the officials at American Airlines were quick to act. The management team told each pilot to uninstall and reinstall the app so that it might work. Some people found that doing so solved their problem altogether. Failing that, pilots flying certain routes had to use PDF copies of the database so that they could navigate the flight.

Most airlines around the globe have now switched (or are now switching) to paperless systems. That means that the majority of planes will need to use modern technology on board. The move is one that should mean flights are safer than they once were because the app offers pilots timely updates.

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