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U.S. Air Force adopts iPads over flight bags?

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The U.S. Air Force is considering a move to 'e-flight bags' to reduce carrier weight and increase available space.

In a bid to lower space requirements and decrease weight on aircrafts, the U.S. military plans to purchase iPads or equivalent tablets to replace traditional flight bags.

New reports have revealed that the military will be following in the footsteps of several aircraft carrier companies and replacing heavy, cumbersome flight manuals with tablets such as the Apple iPad 2 model instead.

American Airlines is an example of a carrier that has already adopted the practice; rolling out iPad tablets to all their pilots. The move has been touted as a means to increase safety and efficiency on a flight -- allowing a pilot to quickly access the information they need rather than sort through a heavy manual in a time of emergency.

After an initial trial by the Federal Aviation Administration last year, the transition was considered acceptable and safe.

Following this pattern, the U.S. military could buy up to 18,000 iPad devices for air force pilots. The proof comes from a presolicitation notice on the Federal Business Opportunities website:

The Government plans to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a minimum of 63 and a maximum of 18,000, iPad 2, Brand Name or Equal devices. This equipment will be utilized as Electronic Flight Bags (EFB) for flightcrew members and trainers. This acquisition will be conducted utilizing the Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Source Selection.

The devices will be used by the crews of C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster aircraft.

Although AMC plans to issue a proposal to buy the tablets at the lowest, fixed cost possible, Lt. Col. Glen Roberts said the AMC "is looking for a tablet device, not necessarily an iPad." The date in which firms will be solicited for lowest price tablet bids is not currently known.

Image credit: Beau Giles

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure