A glitch in software made by a Boeing unit on American Airlines’ iPads means pilots flying to and from Washington’s Reagan airport may have to revert to paper navigational charts for more than a week.
A fault in software on American Airlines’ iPads means pilots flying to and from Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C., may have to revert to paper navigational charts for more than a week.
The glitch in software made by a Boeing unit occurred Tuesday during an update of displays for Reagan, blocking the app on Apple iPads used in American’s cockpits around the country. The malfunction delayed 74 flights Tuesday and Wednesday, according to American. The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier has 6,700 daily flights.
“The app became entirely unresponsive,” said Mike Pound, a spokesman for Boeing’s Jeppesen unit, the software provider.
A temporary fix has been installed so pilots can access airport-navigation charts for facilities other than Reagan, Pound said. But pilots flying at Reagan will still have to use paper or PDF files until a May 8 update.
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American introduced iPads in all of its cockpits two years ago as part of its “electronic flight bag,” which replaces more than 35 pounds of paper-based reference materials and manuals that flight crews carried onboard in the past. The Federal Aviation Administration approved the iPad as a navigation tool for pilots in December 2010.
“Pretty much since the iPad came out, people recognized that this might be a useful tool for airlines and airline pilots in general,” said Charles Westbrooks, a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a former airline pilot.
The flaw isn’t affecting iPads used by all pilots, said Andrea Huguely, an American spokeswoman. In some cases Tuesday night, planes had to return to terminal gates so pilots could access Wi-Fi to fix the issue.
Reagan is the largest of three Washington, D.C.-area airports based on passengers, according to Transportation Department statistics. American is the biggest airline at the airport on the same basis, carrying about 30 percent of travelers.
Ryan James, an Apple spokesman, declined to comment.