Print 62 comment(s) - last by Reclaimer77.. on May 20 at 9:56 PM

It will save $5.7 million annually

The U.S. Air Force is making use of iPads instead of heavy flight manuals, and it's saving quite a bit of money in doing so. 

The Air Force said it would save over $50 million in the next 10 years thanks to its recent deployment of iPads. The iPads eliminate the need to print thousands of flights manuals on paper, which proves to be heavy on planes. 

According to Major Brian Moritz, Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) program manager, removing all of the paper alone results in $750,000 in fuel savings annually (since the extra weight requires extra fuel). Weight varies from 250 pounds in a four-person C-17 up to 490 pounds in a C-5 with 10 crewmembers. 

Add this to print and distribution costs, and Moritz said the Air Force is saving $5.7 million per year with the iPads. This equates to over $50 million in a 10-year period. 

The Air Force's Air Mobility Command (AMC) scored a $9.36 million contract to deploy 18,000 iPads. Today, AMC aircrews are using about 16,000 of those iPads while the other 2,000 are being distributed amongst other Air Force units. 

Aside from just cost savings, the iPads also prove to be helpful in finding information quickly. The keyword search alone helps pilots work more efficiently in emergency situations instead of searching through dense manuals. 

Apple has been working its way into the military through more than just iPads, though (and to more branches than just the Air Force). In March of this year, it was reported that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) planned to purchase 650,000 iOS devices. This included 120,000 iPads, 100,000 iPad minis, 200,000 iPod Touches, and over 20,000 iPhones.

The purchase was to replace old BlackBerry handsets. 

Earlier this month, the DOD approved the use of Samsung smartphones running a secure version of Android called Knox. Other versions of Android and Apple's iOS are currently awaiting approval as well. These decisions are expected to be made by the end of May. 

Source: The Street

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By kleinma on 5/17/2013 12:31:30 PM , Rating: 5
Or they could have saved 60 million by going with Android tablets that cost half as much and would able to be customized to only allow for flight manual usage ;)

RE: or
By Flunk on 5/17/2013 12:52:48 PM , Rating: 4
Not cleared by the DoD, iPads recently were.

RE: or
By StevoLincolnite on 5/18/2013 12:47:18 AM , Rating: 3
You gotta' love Bureaucracy.

RE: or
By Solandri on 5/18/2013 2:25:28 AM , Rating: 1
I'm a big Android supporter, but they're just going in order of device popularity. It's the logical order to do this.

Yes Android is more popular than iOS, but each device has to be approved individually. And the iPad/iPhone represent the biggest market share for a single tablet/phone.

RE: or
By Reclaimer77 on 5/19/2013 7:07:51 PM , Rating: 4
I'm a big Android supporter, but they're just going in order of device popularity. It's the logical order to do this.


Fact is the "hip little" tech company out of Cupertino is a monstrous lobbying firm with a ruthless reputation in the beltway. They've bribed and lobbied their way into the Department of Education and state level school-boards. Do you think schools are using Mac's and iPad's because they're "popular" or the best? Nope. Same with libraries. And now the US Government and military.

The Government isn't like a private business who would objectively choose a product based on popularity, or risk/reward metrics, or even return on investment. When the Government picks something, you KNOW it all came down to money and political gain.

Apple lobbied the hardest, threw the most money around, and made the most promises for kickbacks on the back-end. That's why the iPad was selected. That's why ALL their products get selected in the public sector.

RE: or
By Spuke on 5/20/2013 4:34:30 PM , Rating: 2
I could've sworn Android devices were cleared LONG before iPads were.

RE: or
By Reclaimer77 on 5/20/2013 9:56:16 PM , Rating: 2
There's a big difference between being "cleared" and placing an order for millions of iPad's.

RE: or
By marvdmartian on 5/20/2013 7:55:09 AM , Rating: 2
And yet, we hear of federal agencies, including DoD, which are replacing Blackberries with Android phones.....which are really nothing more than android tablets, that can make phone calls, right?

Bottom line, someone decided to go with Apple's product, and did a sole-source justification that likely should have never been approved. There was no reason this couldn't have withstood the scrutiny of a contractual side by side comparison of capabilities versus cost.

RE: or
By Motoman on 5/17/2013 12:59:03 PM , Rating: 5
...actually, I was thinking even "lower" than that - I would think for the dedicated purpose of flight manuals - and granted battery life too - I'd opt for an e-ink reader of some kind.

Think of all the money they could save with a true reader device - that would work better for the intended purpose (no glare), be lighter, and have much better battery life too.

RE: or
By karimtemple on 5/17/2013 1:28:59 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly what I was thinking.

RE: or
By rpsgc on 5/17/2013 1:32:42 PM , Rating: 5

If it's only for manuals, why would they need a full-fledged tablet instead of a e-book reader?

Lower cost + greater battery life.

RE: or
By protomech on 5/17/2013 1:52:26 PM , Rating: 3
"The device's 9.7-inch display, its user interface, and the ability to access information rapidly were all key selling points, according to Moritz."

The Kindle is pretty fantastic for reading through sequential, reflowable text.

It's not good at:
* quickly looking up and jumping between random pages within a manual
* displaying full-page documents that cannot be reflowed
* displaying dense information
* displaying color information

RE: or
By karimtemple on 5/17/2013 2:19:51 PM , Rating: 2
I should've known to think about color with the Air Force. When I joined the Marine Corps I tested color blind and they said "you can join just fine, but you can't fly."

RE: or
By Manch on 5/20/2013 2:07:08 AM , Rating: 2
Has nothing to do with reading manuals lol. Plenty of them are B&W. If you're colorblind you cant read the runway lights or a lot of the lights on the control boards/dials, etc in the cockpit properly.

RE: or
By Scannall on 5/17/2013 1:55:00 PM , Rating: 2
And e-reader isn't enough. I use ForeFlight.

I don't know of any Android app that is even close to being as good.

And I'm sure the Air Force has even nicer software.

RE: or
By kmmatney on 5/17/2013 1:57:31 PM , Rating: 2
It looks like they need color, and color e-readers are just barely coming out now. It will be a long time before they are ready, and then they would still need to be powerful enough for this application. The one thing about the iPad - it's pretty damn heavy.

RE: or
By karimtemple on 5/17/2013 2:02:22 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't think about color. That's an excellent point.

RE: or
By kleinma on 5/17/2013 2:18:03 PM , Rating: 2
Nook Color has been out since 2010.

RE: or
By geddarkstorm on 5/17/2013 5:56:53 PM , Rating: 2
That's my tablet, and actually it's just a nice IPS screen, no e-ink involved unfortunatel.

RE: or
By BRB29 on 5/17/2013 2:53:07 PM , Rating: 2
Angry bird won't work on an ereader

RE: or
By protomech on 5/17/2013 1:59:05 PM , Rating: 2
18000 tablets * $100 (savings vs Nexus 10, say) = $1.8M. I don't think there are very many $250 10" Android tablets.

iPad can easily be locked down to running a single app (kiosk mode).

RE: or
By talikarni on 5/17/2013 2:08:24 PM , Rating: 1
Ipads aren't $250 either, average price of the 10" ipads start at $400... but there are more $200-300 price range 10" android tablets than 10" Apple devices...

Android should have a big leg up here due to easy customization and much cheaper price.

RE: or
By Guspaz on 5/17/2013 5:26:27 PM , Rating: 1
If you're buying 650,000 iOS devices in a single contract, you're probably not paying retail prices.

10" android tablets that are comparable to the iPad are priced about the same. You won't find a retina-class Android tablet for $200-300, and the resolution definitely does make a difference for their intended use case. You can probably find one for $50 less than the cheapest iPad, but the aspect ratio might be an issue. I don't know what size existing flight manuals are, but an 8.5x11 document has an aspect ratio very close to the iPad's 4:3, while most of the high-res Android tablets are 16:9 or 16:10, which won't work well with 8.5x11 pages.

RE: or
By Alexstarfire on 5/18/2013 5:25:34 PM , Rating: 2
You can't say that they would get a discount on Apple devices because of the quantity and then not apply that to any other device as well.

And then you go and talk about how the resolution matters when something like the Nexus 10 has a similar resolution. The aspect ratio could be an issue, but I really don't know. I don't know what kind of stuff is in those manuals. If it's a bunch of pictures then it's more of an issue than if it's words since having the whole picture on the screen at once is usually preferred.

You only bring speculation to the table.

RE: or
By talikarni on 5/17/2013 2:12:39 PM , Rating: 1
forgot to mention (dangit DT when you going to add a Edit option):

The price savings they mention is ipad versus paper... going android could make the savings that much greater. Partner up with an Android tablet manufacturer like Viewsonic or even Amazon and create custom firmware that is made specifically for this purpose at $100 per 10" tablet, there's another $300-400 per tablet savings over the ipad.

RE: or
By protomech on 5/17/2013 3:53:21 PM , Rating: 2
Edit would be nice : (

$250 tablet was in reference to the OP's suggestion to use "Android tablets that cost half as much". I don't think the Air Force was cross-shopping $500 10" iPads and $250 7" Android tablets.

RE: or
By agent2099 on 5/17/2013 2:41:10 PM , Rating: 2
My thoughts exactly. They could have put our tax dollars to much better use by going with Android tablets or even something like an Amazon Kindle.

RE: or
By messele on 5/18/13, Rating: 0
RE: or
By Alexstarfire on 5/18/2013 6:03:00 PM , Rating: 2
Is this really that common? Only time my phone has ever rebooted randomly is while playing Pandora... and only that app does it. I've probably rebooted my phone less times than my friend has had to reboot her iPad. I'm not sure if they are even comparable in that regard, but I've never seen or heard of random rebooting being a problem on any Nexus device.

RE: or
By Cheesew1z69 on 5/18/2013 6:39:57 PM , Rating: 2
No. It's not. He is one of the resident Apple trolls, don't feed it.

RE: or
By inperfectdarkness on 5/17/2013 2:43:07 PM , Rating: 1
Agreed. And I don't say that just because Apple makes overpriced crap (which it does). I feel that something on the order of Android needs to become the backbone of the DOD's increasingly tech-heavy force. Pushing for commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware has proven quite effective in saving money. Let's go one step further and go with COTS (read: open-source) software.

Right now, the DOD is running on an eclectic mix of XP, Vista, 7, Linux, Unix, and I believe even DOS (I'm looking at you, 1970's AWACS system). Rather than trying to push for a military-only spec system, migrating to a system where there is broad-based support, unity of programming, and unlimited 3rd party support--will prove to be a dramatic cost-saving measure. It will also make security updates much more efficient, and provide a higher degree of cyberspace control over our own systems.

I say "no" to the iPad plan because I see MORE future potential than just pubs and maps. I see interoperability (plug-in) with airframes/cockpits. I see potential for storing/carrying classified information like daily codewords, authentication tables, etc--all stuff that is also carried by pilots. I see potential for retro-fitted JTIDS read-only displays for tactical assets not otherwise equipped.

Going the Apple route on this is a dead-end of BIBLICAL proportions.

RE: or
By captainBOB on 5/17/2013 9:46:26 PM , Rating: 2
I could see the DoD making a linux distro akin to Scientific Linux and using that base to create builds for specific devices. Not Android though, for what you are proposing the DoD would have to have control of the entire stack.

RE: or
By messele on 5/18/2013 5:53:02 AM , Rating: 1
Well since the bible is a work of fiction I'd simply retort that by saying you're a fucking idiot.

RE: or
By tanjali on 5/17/2013 3:08:37 PM , Rating: 2
From spending just for Air Force $170.6 billion a year, $50 million is great saving.

RE: or
By protomech on 5/17/2013 3:19:37 PM , Rating: 2

RE: or
By Tony Swash on 5/18/13, Rating: -1
RE: or
By Cheesew1z69 on 5/18/2013 4:06:31 PM , Rating: 2
No OS upgrades, riddled with malware and no software
Why do you insist on lying? Does it get you off or something?

RE: or
By Alexstarfire on 5/18/2013 6:52:11 PM , Rating: 3
Even if all of what you say is true, and I'm not saying it is, I've got some questions for you.

Why would you even need to upgrade the OS if the purpose is just to look at the manual?

How would malware get on the device if they aren't even supposed to, and might even have the ability taken away to, download and install other software?

Why would software selection matter if they were only viewing a manual? Quality notwithstanding, since that is not what you were talking about.

And why would any amount of gadgetry matter when viewing a manual? Do you need a USB powered light-up magnifying glass or something?

Fingerprint scanning is a joke in itself. It's been proven to be pretty crappy security. It's one of those things that sounds better in theory than it is in reality. We all have a unique fingerprint to no one unauthorized should be able to use your device. However, if you're trying to get a fingerprint off someone it's not terribly difficult.

Having multiple lines of security would be the way to go, but most users aren't going to go through all that every time they unlock a device.

RE: or
By Tony Swash on 5/18/13, Rating: -1
RE: or
By TakinYourPoints on 5/20/2013 2:10:22 AM , Rating: 3
Its like wondering why businesses should use Windows desktops when they can buy Core 2 desktops running a Linux distro from 2006 to save money instead.

You have to be where the developers are, and good hardware makes sense.

iPads make sense for tablets because it has thousands of developers making high quality tablet optimized software for the fastest ARM based tablet out there.

Android simply doesn't have niche tablet software for business or enterprise, nor does it have much tablet software in general.

Things like flight manual applications don't exist for Android tablets, while iPad applications like this are already being used in aviation:

Using an iPad means availability of applications, best-in-class hardware, and guaranteed OS support. Using an Android tablet means no tablet optimized apps outside of Netflix and Angry Birds (certainly no real professional apps), slower hardware, poorer vendor support, risk of malware, and no guarantee of timely OS updates.

People complaining that e-ink readers should be used instead do have some point, but then you look at Foreflight's features and its clear why an LCD would be better:

RE: or
By Spuke on 5/20/2013 4:59:25 PM , Rating: 2
Things like flight manual applications don't exist for Android tablets, while iPad applications like this are already being used in aviation:
Security is a HUGE issue with the DoD. They would NOT use an off the shelf app. Also, the number of available apps is irrelevant as far as the DoD is concerned for the same reason. And to answer my question above, Android based hardware WAS approved before the Apple hardware was. For some reason Apple was chosen for this purpose (likely because some commander or commanders kid uses it at home...yes some decisions are made because of that).

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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