Some Pilots Can Now Use iPad Apps Instead of Paper MapsS

Despite all the technological advances made over the years, pilots are still frequently relying on paper maps when it comes to navigation. That's about to change though.

Apparently the Federal Aviation Administration has made a decision to allow a charter company called Executive Jet Management to use an iOS app "as an approved alternative to paper charts."

The app has apparently been rigorously tested for three months and is currently only approved for use by Executive Jet Management, but it could lead to some dramatic changes in the world of aviation:

The iPad has been popular with pilots of all types since its introduction last year. But until now, it could not be used in place of traditional paper charts or FAA-approved devices such as more expensive, purpose-built electronic flight bags. The iPad was OK for reference, but not as a pilot's sole source of information. The new FAA authorization changes all that.

Of course there are concerns about what might happen in the event that the app or iPad being used by a pilot crashes at a critical moment, but Jeff Buhl, the product manager for the app being used by Executive Jet Management, is confident that won't be an issue:

"The recovery time for an application crashing or the OS crashing is extremely rapid," Buhl says. During the evaluation period with the FAA, the production app did not crash. But even if it did, Buhl says it's ready to go again "in 4-6 seconds from re-launch to previous state."

So, folks, this means that the next time you see a pilot hugging an iPad to his chest, you don't need to worry—he's probably not just using it to play Angry Birds in-flight. [Wired]