On Tuesday evening dozens of American Airlines flights were temporarily grounded due to problems caused by an issue with the software in iPads used in cockpit by AA pilots. The problem apparently struck randomly across the airline's fleet, affecting an app that serves as a navigational aid.
Several dozen flights were delayed beginning around 9:30PM EST, some for as long as three hours.
Flying from Dallas to Indianapolis following a one-hour delay Grady Bishop tweeted, "@AmericanAir 2276 off and running with a new iPad and paper copies of the nav charts. 'Just like we've done it for 75yrs' the captain says,".
American Airlines became the first airline to gain FAA approval to use iPads in all stages of flight in 2012, an approval that allowed AA to use the devices in the cockpit at altitudes below 10,000 feet before passengers were afforded the same right. In less than a year, iPads had been deployed across the airline cockpits, with AA pilots using the device as an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), thus replacing some 35 pounds of paper reference material required to get the big metal birds from point A to point B, ranging from navigational charts to terminal layouts (a move that American Airlines says saves the airline 400,000 gallons of fuel per year).
Today, American Airlines has over 8,000 iPads in service (said to replace over 24 million document pages), and yesterday's incident supposedly marks the first time the Apple device has caused a problem.