Date
18 December 2017
American is one of several airlines that have replaced heavy paper documents in the cockpit with electronic tablets. Photo: Bloomberg
American is one of several airlines that have replaced heavy paper documents in the cockpit with electronic tablets. Photo: Bloomberg

Dozens of planes grounded by glitch in iPad app

Pilots of modern airliners rely heavily on electronics for navigation, but there are times when paper charts still come in useful.

American Airlines was forced to ground dozens of its jets when an app used by its pilots stopped working, BBC News reported.

The glitch was in the FliteDeck app on the iPads the planes’ pilots and co-pilots use to view flight plans.

The airline’s cockpits went “paperless” in 2013 to save its staff having to lug heavy documents on board. AA estimated the move would save it more than US$1.2 million in fuel each year.

The firm said Wednesday it had found a way to fix the problem.

“We experienced technical issues with an application installed on some pilot iPads,” an AA spokesman said.

“This issue was with the third-party application, not the iPad, and caused some departure delays last night and this morning.

“Our pilots have been able to address the issue by downloading the application again at the gate prior to take-off and, as a back-up, are able to rely on paper charts they can obtain at the airport.

The app is made by the Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen. 

Serge Gojkovich, chief executive of car-parking app-maker Curbstand, was among the passengers affected.

He tweeted that his San Francisco-to-Los Angeles flight got airborne on Tuesday only after its pilots told passengers they had printed out the maps they needed.

AA is not the only carrier where pilots and cabin crew have switched from using physical charts and paper manuals to tablets.

United Airlines was also an early adopter of iPads, while Delta has opted for Microsoft’s Surface tablets instead.

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