The advent of the iPad tablet has ushered in a new wave of culture change and paradigm shift the world over. It would seem that anyone who comes into contact with the legendary iPad has had their lives dramatically changed one way or the other.

Now recently, American Airlines (AA), the fourth-largest airline by passenger number in the United States (Bureau of Transportation Statistics), has begun to explore ways the iPad could be used to bring down operating costs and improve pilot experience in the airline.

This, they seek to achieve by making the switch from paper flight charts to iPad tablets which are now allowed on-board most big planes. The net effect of this switch will see AA reduce fuel costs by a staggering USD 1.2 million annually – not to mention the extra cockpit space created and the huge savings on paper made.

Pilots on AA planes usually carry, on average, about 16 KG of paperwork that is required to aid in the plane’s navigation. This paperweight will now be reduced to 0.68 KG, the weight of an iPad.

A few years ago most airlines would not allow passengers to use any electronic devices during take-offs and landings. At least with these new cost-cutting measures, some of these restrictions are being waived to pave way for the revolutionary change.

A first of its kind in the airline industry, the iPad tablet will be able to be safely switched on during take-offs and landings. This perk will however not be extended to the passengers – at least not yet.

It would be interesting to see how this innovation will shape the future of air travel in the world. Does it mean slightly cheaper flights because of the savings? How will our own local airlines re-engineer themselves to embrace this change?

Kenya Airways, for one, seems well-positioned for such change as they pursue quite an ambitious expansion programme seeking to penetrate more of the African market that currently accounts for 50% of their USD 1.1 billion turnover. They recently ordered 10 E-190 jets from Brazil’s Embraer, making them its biggest customer in Africa.

Perhaps the iPad could be considered as part of Kenya Airways’ cost-cutting measures as it expands? What are your thoughts? Share by posting a comment below.