The US Air Force recently abandoned 40 pounds worth of paper maps, charts, logs and other paperwork from its aircraft. That paper was replaced with Apple iPads and the cost savings are amazing.

The iPad devices which are deployed to 18,000 planes are saving the Air Force an estimated $5.7 million per year.

The iPads are being called an “electronic flight bag”  because they hold flight manuals, weather and navigation charts and various pieces of technical and procedural information. In the past a flight bag would contain 30 to 40 pounds worth of materials.

Apple iPads Saving US Air Force $5.7 Million Per Year

The US Air Force is saving money by reducing printing costs, reducing pilot back injuries and lowering fuel costs by reducing overall weight.

The iPad flight bags are expected to save $750,000 on fuel costs each year alone.

The Air Force spent $9 million to procure the Apple iPads which means the program will pay for itself after just 18 months.

Apple iPad units are all of the Wi-Fi only variety with 32GB of internal storage. Apple provided the devices with a bulk discount rate of $520 per unit, a savings of nearly $80 per unit.

In some cases the size of the aircraft can mean bigger savings. For example, a C-5 military aircraft can save 490 pounds in paper weight thanks to the use of a single iPad.

The Air Force has deployed 16,000 third-generation iPads to its Air Mobility Command while the rest have been deployed to various other divisions of the US Air Force.

Switching from paper documents to Apple iPad and other tablet devices is becoming standard practice in the aviation industry. Many commercial airlines have equipped flight attendants, pilots and other personnel with tablet PCs in place of heavy and cumbersome paper documents.

Do you think moving from printed documents to lightweight iPad and other tablet devices is a smart move for the US Air Force and commercial airlines?

[Image via strikefighterconsultinginc]