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Delta to Replace Flight Bags With Microsoft Surface 2 Tablets

Taking steps toward a completely paperless cockpit, Delta is swapping out its pilots' flight bags for Microsoft Surface 2 tablets.
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Delta Airlines announced plans on Monday to snap up 11,000 Microsoft Surface 2 tablets to replace its pilots' outdated flight bags, which currently contain heavy manuals and maps.

Not only are the tablets less cumbersome (a Surface 2 tablet weighs less than 1.5 pounds, whereas the average flight bag weighs 38 pounds), but they allow pilots to easily check flight and weather information while making the airline greener, Delta says.

“Eliminating this weight across our fleet of more than 700 mainline aircraft will lead to 1.2 million fewer gallons of fuel burned each year and result in a 26 million pound reduction in annual emissions—that’s the same as taking 2,300 cars off the road,” the company said on its website.

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All these gallons of unburned fuel results in a more cost-efficient airline. Microsoft touts that its tablets will save Delta $13 million a year in fuel and related costs. 

The company hopes to make its cockpits completely paperless by 2014.

While Delta still needs to get FAA approval to allow its pilots to use the tablets during all phases of flights, including takeoff and landing, an advisory panel recommended to the FAA on Monday that airline passengers should be allowed to use electronic devices to read, play games or enjoy movies and music, even when planes are below 10,000 feet.

According to Microsoft's press release, "Delta expects to receive approval from the FAA to use the tablets during all phases of flight next year."