Delta Airlines to Give Pilots Microsoft Surface 2 Tablets

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.

  • deftonian
    Excuse me, but all electronic devices must be turned off during takeoff and landing. DON'T LET ME CATCH YOU CAPTAIN!

  • warezme
    The RT..., they can keep it.
  • ethanolson
    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.
  • sean1357
    Maybe Delta Air got better deal with Microsoft? Buy One, Get One Free.... who knows...
  • michael908
    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.
  • tntom
    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.
  • jcluthe
    Maybe this will keep the pilots awake....
  • back_by_demand
    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.
  • Chris DeLong
    So Microsoft successfully sold 11,000 units. Just a few more million to go...good luck with that.
  • knightmike
    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.