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Delta Airlines to Give Pilots Microsoft Surface 2 Tablets

By - Source: Delta | B 20 comments

Delta is now testing the use of Surface 2 tablets in Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 planes.

Delta Air Lines announced on Monday that it is equipping 11,000 pilots with Microsoft's new Surface 2 tablet. Initially these will be used as an electronic flight bag to replace the traditional 38 pound paper-based version containing aircraft operating and reference manuals, and navigational charts. The company plans to roll out Surface 2 tablets to the entire fleet by the end of 2014.

Delta said that Microsoft's new Tegra 4-based Surface 2 tablet, launching with Windows 8.1 RT, will be equipped with Jeppesen's FliteDeck Pro interactive application built specifically for the Windows platform. Delta said this app will provide quicker and more efficient access to thousands of pages of electronic documents, charts, navigational aids, checklists and other key reference materials previously kept in the heavy flight bags.

"Delivering digital flight information through FliteDeck Pro on the Surface tablet platform will increase situational awareness and improve operational efficiency for Delta Air Lines," said Tim Huegel, director, Jeppesen Aviation Portfolio Management. "This EFB integration program highlights a successful collaboration between Delta, Microsoft and Jeppesen and we congratulate Delta on the digital transformation of their flight deck operations." 

Microsoft points out that the Windows RT 8.1 operating system will allow pilots to open two applications side-by-side, such as launching a weather app while viewing proposed flight paths in the other window. The Live Tile user interface will also feed up-to-the-minute information to crew members while the 1080p touchscreen display "adds detail" to maps and other resources.

"Once rolled out to the entire fleet, Delta will see an immediate fuel and cost savings as the cumbersome and heavy paper documents are removed from onboard our aircraft," reads Microsoft's blog on Technet. "In fact, the airline expects to eliminate the use of 7.5 million sheets of paper annually while reducing carbon emissions by 26 million pounds on 1.2 million fewer gallons of fuel."

Delta will begin handing tablets out to pilots flying Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 planes later this year for an extensive period of testing. After that, the FAA is expected to grant Delta an approval to use Microsoft's new tablet for all subsequent fleet types by the end of 2014. In the coming years, Delta plans to expand the functionality of the EFB equipment and "increase the efficiency of the operation by providing pilots with electronic dispatch and flight release information, access to real-time weather forecasts, up-to-the-minute operational information".

The Surface blog reports that there are already a number of businesses and institutions that use the Surface-brand tablets including Hokkoku Bank, City National Bank, The London School of Business & Finance and a number of others. And starting October 1, Surface will be available through commercial resellers in 29 markets including Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.

The move to Surface 2 tablets follows Delta's shift in August to the Nokia Lumia 820 smartphones using Dynamics for Retail technology for 19,000 flight attendants.

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  • 6 Hide
    deftonian , October 1, 2013 10:38 AM
    Excuse me, but all electronic devices must be turned off during takeoff and landing. DON'T LET ME CATCH YOU CAPTAIN!

  • 2 Hide
    warezme , October 1, 2013 10:40 AM
    The RT..., they can keep it.
  • 1 Hide
    ethanolson , October 1, 2013 10:45 AM
    Hahaha... so Microsoft is on its way to having the last laugh. Eventually, what is used in work will make it into the homes of consumers all over again like it did with PCs. So Microsoft's tablets running Windows 8.1 might be the thing to bridge the work/home gap for this generation.

    Yeah... I've recently become a bit of a fanboy.
  • Display all 20 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    sean1357 , October 1, 2013 12:19 PM
    Maybe Delta Air got better deal with Microsoft? Buy One, Get One Free.... who knows...
  • -1 Hide
    michael908 , October 1, 2013 12:22 PM
    My friend from school has the first generation surface and it really is a good tablet. For productivity and being able to actually use excel and word properly on a tablet is amazing. Rt is neutered windows but still much better than ios and Android.
  • 1 Hide
    tntom , October 1, 2013 12:35 PM
    They could of used all those extra Generation 1 tablets laying around. On a serious note I think this is a good match. All the reasons that keep me from buying it are why it is a good match to an airline. Microsoft is filling in the niche that Blackberry could have. The 'Windows Mobile 8' as it should have been called, has a straight forward no nonsense UI and is locked down enough to avoid too much abuse.
  • 0 Hide
    jcluthe , October 1, 2013 12:56 PM
    Maybe this will keep the pilots awake....
  • 1 Hide
    back_by_demand , October 1, 2013 1:08 PM
    MS has deep enough pockets and patience, alongside IBM they play the long game very well. 1st Gen Surface sells few, 2nd Gen Surface will sell more, 3rd Gen Surface will own the market.
  • 1 Hide
    Chris DeLong , October 1, 2013 1:28 PM
    So Microsoft successfully sold 11,000 units. Just a few more million to go...good luck with that.
  • 5 Hide
    knightmike , October 1, 2013 1:29 PM
    C-130 pilot here. We were issued the iPads not too long ago for the same reason. I must say, it's so much better than lugging around the manual. Plus, it's a lot easier to keep updated.
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , October 1, 2013 1:34 PM
    While I think your progression of marketshare is *wildly* optimistic Back, and products like the Zune line show that MS is hardly infallible at the "long game," you are not wrong in your sentiment in general. An example of an astounding success in this area would be the XBOX with the first console being a five-year-plan sacrificial lamb to build mindshare with the second sweeping in to become a viable competitor. I would not be surprised if the Surface brand is a similar endeavour, planning to "long game" Windows into the mobile sphere. So far, the ecosystem improved dramatically over the course of the first Surface's lifetime (only slightly as a result of the Surface itself, though the Surface brand will hugely benefit).

    Heck, almost daily in classes and doing research I have someone comment on my "Surface" - which they oddly sometimes do when I'm using my Acer Iconia W700 too - and ask me how it is. A lot of people know what the Surface brand is now and when they go in to buy their next iPad, they may well give it a try. In virtue of it being a well designed product, wouldn't surprise me if more than a few brought them home. When I got my Surface - about a month after the price drop to $350 - the fellow who sold it to me told me they were selling their display case (about 40 units) out every three days. Hardly decisive market data, but I was surprised to hear that about a product which I'd heard next to nothing positive about on the web. And heck, my Surface isn't even the only one I see around the university...

    I don't know if it will ever be a market leader, but I am getting early inklings that the Surface brand is growing, not shrinking. We'll see what the post-holiday sales numbers say.
  • 0 Hide
    sean1357 , October 1, 2013 1:35 PM

    It isn't simple like that... Not like between Microsoft and Netscape.... that was along time ago...

    Now, you are talking about Apple, Google, and Amazon....If Microsoft wants to stay in the race... MS has to build solid, good, and better price to other competitors out there...
  • 2 Hide
    shin0bi272 , October 1, 2013 2:06 PM
    Why cant we give school kids tablets instead? Who wants to lug around 10 different books plus notebooks and handouts from the teacher in the 21st century? Just to keep the textbook companies from going out of business? !meht kcuF
  • 1 Hide
    stevejnb , October 1, 2013 2:21 PM
    Shinobi, tablets are a *really* new technology on the consumer which not many people - let alone teachers - are proficient at using. Unless you're proposing Microsoft tablets, most of those teachers are probably largely unfamiliar with the operating system as well, and even with Windows most of the elementary and highschool teachers I know are the types who thought the CD tray was a drink holder just a few years ago. This is one more *huge* hassle for a teacher to try and coordinate and troubleshoot, having a classroom full of people using digital devices. A book has the virtue of being very simple - you open, you read, and you write.

    I teach classes and am reasonably computer savvy... But I know some academics who are now trying to use more digital formats for papers and articles they want students to read and a lot of them have tremendous trouble trying to work out technical kinks because one person can't get an article or you need accounts for this or that site or blah blah blah, and the first ten minutes of their classes turn into a troubleshooting session.

    it will happen, but right now things are not dependable enough for this to really make it worthwhile in my eyes. A hidden fee is having tech support available to deal with tablet troubles in schools too, and schools are tight enough on budget as is.
  • 0 Hide
    knightmike , October 1, 2013 2:51 PM
    I'm not sure they want students to have a device that allows them to search for an answer. Apparently, answering questions by scanning the chapter is a useful skill.
  • 0 Hide
    f-14 , October 1, 2013 6:31 PM
    have they been lighting tested yet? an air plane in a thunderstorm is not unheard of, and problems with air planes in thunderstorms has caused high body counts and missing planes. while it might suck to look thru a 300 page manual in the dark it's even worse to not have a manual at all because a static charge or electrical impulse knocked it out.

    the benefit to these is a faster search to the section that applies to your problem!
  • 0 Hide
    TeraMedia , October 2, 2013 6:19 AM
    I can just see the headlines now:

    Syrian Electronic Army Hacks Delta Airlines Pilot Handbook - All Airplanes Crash Land on National Mall

    Not likely, of course, but these devices do create another attack surface (no pun intended). If I were in charge of Delta, I'd be sure to find a way to lock these things down before I'd allow them in the cockpit. You know the pilots are going to let their kids play on them, and you know they're going to be used for non-work activities (hotel room p0rn during layovers?), no matter how stern the contract each pilot signs to get one.
  • -1 Hide
    WyomingKnott , October 2, 2013 7:12 AM
    I remember when fighter pilots were given programmable Texas Instruments calculators for this purpose, back in the early 80's. I had the same calculator and had to have it swapped three times before I got one that worked for more than a month.

    Perhaps they should carry spares, just in case.
  • 0 Hide
    DryCreamer , October 2, 2013 8:15 AM
    I love my Windows tablet! :) 

  • 0 Hide
    knightmike , October 2, 2013 8:08 PM
    A cargo plane is flying along, doing its cargo plane thing, when a fighter jet comes up alongside.
    The fighter jock decides to poke some fun at the pilot who's forced to fly such an ungainly vessel.
    "My plane's so much more advanced than yours. Watch this" says the jock, as he proceeds to do loop-de-loops, barrel rolls, corkscrews, and all manner of fast-paced aerial acrobatics.
    "Very impressive," responds the cargo pilot. "But that's nothing, watch this." For a half hour the large craft simply plods along straight as an arrow, not even so much as dipping the wings.
    After a while, the cargo pilot comes back on the radio and says "So, what'd you think?"
    Jock: "What d'you mean? You didn't do anything. You just flew straight for a while."
    Cargo: "Oh no, that wasn't all. I got up, stretched my legs, got some coffee, went to the bathroom..."