FAA Clears iPad For Takeoff Throughout Agency - InformationWeek
12:18 PM
Connect Directly
Ransomware: Latest Developments & How to Defend Against Them
Nov 01, 2017
Ransomware is one of the fastest growing types of malware, and new breeds that escalate quickly ar ...Read More>>

FAA Clears iPad For Takeoff Throughout Agency

Federal Aviation Administration will let employees choose to use iPad in a production environment, having already developed numerous special-use iPad apps.

14 Most Popular Government Mobile Apps
Slideshow: 14 Most Popular Government Mobile Apps
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The Federal Aviation Administration plans to soon expand a pilot iPad program within the agency to allow all employees to use iPads in a production environment, according to agency officials. In doing so, it will join a growing trend of federal agencies embracing iPads and other tablets.

The FAA has been piloting iPads since January 2011, and currently has about 1,100 employees using the tablet devices. The pilot has led to the development of numerous mobile applications at the agency, including an app for aviation mechanics to order parts and view technical manuals, an app for lawyers to access legal files, and a training app called QuickLook that's now available on iTunes.

The agency has taken a decidedly open approach to the pilot thus far, allowing anyone who could give the FAA a good business case the chance to use an iPad, and anyone with a good idea to develop apps to use the devices however they wish.

[ The FAA wants commercial in-flight restrictions eased on tablets and other devices. See Electronic Devices, Takeoff Might Get Along: FAA. ]

"You tell us why you want this device, and we'll let you do it in a way that doesn't threaten FAA networks," said Rob Corcoran, manager of the FAA's architecture and applied technology group. "One of the critical success factors has been not limiting the scope of what people are trying to do. You have no idea where that killer app in mobility will come from."

The business cases he gets are often related to how employees can work more efficiently and effectively in a mobile environment. For example, aviation mechanics now use the iPad to order parts, track documents, and view technical manuals. Previously, a group of mechanics might have only one computer, and mechanics would have to wait in a queue before doing data entry. Corcoran says that iPads have led to a "substantial cost benefit in hours saved" on this front.

Lawyers who are responsible for prosecuting airspace violations, meanwhile, now have an iPad app that allows them to collect and view files on their devices that show replays of FAA radar at the time a flight path deviation occurred. These lawyers now go into settlement meetings with alleged violators and replay the events as the FAA saw them in order to represent what information the FAA has to prosecute the case. According to Corcoran, lawyers are now saving $100,000 per case because the radar data has resulted in a greater number of early settlements.

The iPad also holds promise for FAA trainers, said Cliff Travis, manager of the FAA's training team. "I think a day will come where a student will come in and get a device instead of a stack of books and will carry that device until they are certified," he says.

The FAA is in the process of creating an application marketplace, although it won't be exclusively for mobile apps. Desktop apps also will be available through the FAA's application store.

Benefits have not just come from new apps, according to Corcoran, but from savings on the technology itself as well. For example, the FAA is saving money thanks to cheap unlimited data agreements available for tablets; cheaper costs and higher durability of tablets compared to laptops; and from not having to spend on Blackberry servers.

The success of the iPad pilot is being parlayed into other mobile pilots, according to Corcoran. The FAA is looking into both Android devices and RIM's new Playbook 2 tablet.

InformationWeek's 2012 Government IT Innovators program will feature the most innovative government IT organizations in the 2012 InformationWeek 500 issue and on InformationWeek.com. Does your organization have what it takes? The nomination period for 2012 Government IT Innovators closes April 27.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
4/6/2012 | 4:58:11 PM
re: FAA Clears iPad For Takeoff Throughout Agency
Great to see technology in action. Now all we need is some cheaper airfare and more traffic at our regional airports. Ontario is doing its part by getting local control of its Ontario Airport. Details of the campaign at http://www.setontariofree.com
Andrew Hornback
Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/4/2012 | 2:32:37 AM
re: FAA Clears iPad For Takeoff Throughout Agency
Sounds to me like the FAA is really getting their mobile strategy right. We can only hope that other Federal and State agencies take from their example.

Aside from other reasons, saving $100,000 per case? How many iPads will that buy again?

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Digital Transformation Myths & Truths
Transformation is on every IT organization's to-do list, but effectively transforming IT means a major shift in technology as well as business models and culture. In this IT Trend Report, we examine some of the misconceptions of digital transformation and look at steps you can take to succeed technically and culturally.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll