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United, Continental embrace iPads in the cockpit

United and Continental are the latest airlines to ditch heavy paper flight manuals for iPads.

United Continental Holdings on Tuesday announced that it is deploying 11,000 iPads to all United and Continental pilots.

"The paperless flight deck represents the next generation of flying," said Captain Fred Abbott, United's senior vice president of flight operations, in a press release. "The introduction of iPads ensures our pilots have essential and real-time information at their fingertips at all times throughout the flight."

Each iPad, which weighs less than 1.5 pounds, will replace a pilot's 38-pound flight bag that currently holds paper operating manuals, navigation charts, reference handbooks, flight checklists, logbooks and weather information. Instead, pilots will be able to quickly access reference material via an app, and updates can be immediately downloaded.

Distribution of iPads began earlier this month, and all pilots should have them by the end of the year.

United and Continental join Alaska Airlines, which earlier this summer became the first major airline to replace paper manuals with iPads in the cockpit. American Airlines is currently in the middle of a six-month test of iPads in the cockpit.

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Joy Jernigan is a senior travel editor for Follow her on Twitter.