Report: FAA says iPads can replace paper maps in cockpits

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the use of Apple's iPad in lieu of paper aeronautical charts for use in the cockpit, according to a report from Nextgov.

According to the report, the aeronautical chart firm Jeppesen has developed an FAA-approved iPad application that is currently in use by a subsidiary of charter airline service NetJets. The apps were tested on more than 250 flights by 55 pilots on 10 different models of aircraft.

The FAA has approved electronic flight materials before, but this is the first time the agency has approved iPad technology as a substitute for paper maps and charts. A typical electronic system could cost thousands and require a laptop computer; the iPad starts at $499 and the software starts at $76 per year.

In the event the iPad stops working, pilots will have backup systems in place. In addition to the pilot, the co-pilot would have his own iPad. The devices must also be able to draw power from the aircraft to avoid a situation in which the battery drains over the course of a long flight.

Jeppesen CEO Mark Van Tine praised the FAA for its willingness to collaborate with industry on the project. The firm expects other airlines to begin using iPads in the near future.