Minneapolis - Delta Air Lines plans to buy 11 000 Microsoft Surface 2
tablets for its pilots to replace the heavy bundles of books and maps they haul
Other airlines, including American and United, have been buying Apple's iPad
for that purpose.
Delta says the Surface tablets will save it $13m per year in fuel and other
costs. Right now, each pilot carries a 17kg flight bag with manuals and maps.
Delta plans to test the tablets on its Boeing 757s and 767s, which are flown
by the same group of pilots. The airline is hoping for Federal Aviation
Administration approval next year to use the tablets throughout a flight, and
it hopes to be using the devices on all of its other planes by the end of next
One reason Delta picked a Microsoft device was that it's easier to give
pilots separate sections for company and personal use, said Steve Dickson,
Delta's senior vice president for flight operations.
Pilots will be able to install personal software and keep their own items
such as photos on the personal section of the devices, while another portion
will be dedicated to Delta's software, Dickson said.
"We trust them to manage that side of the device," Dickson said.
Another reason for picking the Surface tablet is that Delta's training
software also runs on the same Windows operating system as the tablets, reducing
the need to redo that software for another device, Dickson said.
Delta has already done a test program where pilots could bring their own
devices, including iPads.
In August, Delta said its flight attendants will get Windows phones to
process in-flight sales of food, better seats, and other items.
Microsoft announced last week that it is updating its tablet line, which
includes the Surface 2s that Delta is buying. The Surface 2 is the cheaper of
the two versions sold by Microsoft, retailing for $449 each. Dickson declined
to say how much Delta is paying.