Austrian Airlines, Austria’s largest airline has announced that they are now using the Surface Pro 3 in flight operations since early November. Surface Pro 3 devices are replacing the paper-based version of the electronic flight bag (EFB) – a collection of important flight documents weighing several kilograms that until now has accompanied pilots around the world. Austrian Airlines will have around 950 Windows 8.1-based Surface Pro 3 devices as part of this cockpit modernization effort.
Upgrade for pilots
The advantages of the electronic flight bag are perfectly obvious to Philipp Haller, who as a Boeing 777 pilot also works on long-haul routes: “We are now in a position to use the tablets as a ‘real’ electronic flight bag for the first time in flight operations. Unlike previous solutions, the tablet will therefore accompany the pilot constantly.” This starts with preparations – pilots use an existing Internet connection to load the latest flight information and documents (flight plans, weather information, as well as position, environmental, and system data, for example) onto the tablet. They then take it into the cockpit, where – for safety reasons – at least two Surface Pro 3 tablets per flight are fixed using special brackets. “Fixing them in this manner means that our pilots are now in a position to use the electronic flight bag installed on the tablet in all phases of the flight for the first time. In particular, that now applies to critical phases such as the takeoff, when landing, and in the event of turbulence, too.”
Upgrading the entire fleet
Austrian Airlines has opted for the implementation of an extensive Surface Pro 3 and Windows 8.1-based electronic flight bag. The high performance, the large screen, and the – in comparison – very low weight make the tablet from Microsoft an ideal work instrument for the flight crew. In the course of the project, Austrian has bought about 950 Surface Pro 3 tablets in total. The version chosen features 128 GB storage, an Intel i5 processor, and 4 GB RAM. The rollout of the Austrian fleet’s tablets and equipment started early November 2014. To achieve this, the cockpit of every Airbus A320, Boeing 767, Boeing 777, Dash 8 Q400, and Fokker aircraft will be gradually fitted with EFB brackets, meaning that every pilot – irrespective of the type of aircraft they fly – can use the Surface tablets and electronic flight bag installed on them at all times during flight operations in the future. Introduction of the new system is supported by Microsoft partners ACP and Danube IT Services.
Read the full press release here.