Delta Airlines offers Microsoft Surface 2 tablets to 11,000 pilots

Delta Airlines will offer Microsoft Surface 2 tablets to 11,000 pilots.

Microsoft Surface 2 tablets will be offered to pilots flying the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 fleets later this year, and all Delta cockpits are projected to be paperless by the end of 2014, said Microsoft on Tuesday.

Surface 2 tablets will run on the Windows RT 8.1 platform and provide flight crews real-time access to essential tools and the up-to-date flight-related resources including key charts, reference documents and checklists while saving the airline $13 million per year in fuel and associated costs.

Microsoft, which is buying Nokia phone business for $7.2 billion, is gaining momentum in the absence of BlackBerry which is going through a tough phase in the enterprise device market. Both Apple and Samsung are also trying to win customers in the enterprise device market.

Microsoft Surface 2

The new devices will replace the current paper versions of the electronic flight bags (EFBs).  It will provide electronic access to key charts, reference documents and checklists. The move is expected to save the airline $13 million per year in fuel and associated costs.

In August 2013, Delta Airlines equipped its 19,000 flight attendants with Nokia Lumia 820 handsets powered by Windows 8 to enhance passenger experience and improve on-board purchase process.

The deployment means that from cockpit to cabin, Delta flight crews will now have access to connected range of Microsoft devices and services.

“This intuitive device puts key information at their fingertips right when they need it. By eliminating paper, we’ll reduce clutter and minimize time spent looking for flight information allowing our pilots the opportunity for greater situational awareness in the air and on the ground,” said Steve Dickson, Delta’s senior vice president – Flight Operations.

Windows RT 8.1 operating system enables pilots to open two applications side-by-side, offering, for example, the opportunity to assess weather information alongside proposed flight paths.

The Live Tile user interface in Windows 8.1 can feed up-to-the-minute information to crew members while the high-resolution 1080p touchscreen display of the Surface 2 adds detail to maps and other resources.

Delta expects to receive approval from the FAA to use the tablets during all phases of flight next year, a process that follows an extensive period of testing on board Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 aircraft.

Rolling out the Surface 2 tablets across the entire fleet and eliminating paper in the cockpit means the carrier will remove traditional 38-pound pilot flight bags maintained on board aircraft for each pilot. That weight reduction is expected to reduce fuel usage by an estimated 1.2 million gallons per year which translates to a 26 million pound reduction in carbon emissions.

“The full HD Surface screen and 10-hour battery life will be perfect for flights where Delta pilots will get seamless real-time data and visualization in a variety of lighting conditions. And then they can be productive off the plane with Microsoft Office and our click-in keyboard,” said Brian Hall, Surface General Manager at Microsoft.

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, operational information and dynamic communication with aircraft technicians on the ground.

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