Air Force Targets $50M Savings with Apple Ipads
NEW YORK (The Street, 05/17/13, by James Rogers) Apple iPads may be commonplace in homes and offices, but the popular tablet is now a key weapon in the U.S. Air Force’s battle for efficiency. The lightweight Apple tablet has opened the door to more than $50 million in cost savings over the next 10 years, according to the military.
Last year the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command (AMC) awarded a $9.36 million contract for up to 18,000 iPads as part of an ambitious project to replace flight manuals with state-of-the-art tablets. Contractor Executive Technology clinched the deal to deploy the so-called Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs).
AMC, which provides Air Force cargo, passenger transport, refueling and aeromedical evacuation services, aims to boost efficiency and save millions of dollars through the tablets. For a typical aircrew, this means doing away with dozens of manuals containing literally tens of thousands of pages of information.
“We’re saving about 90 pounds of paper per aircraft and limiting the need for each crew member to carry a 30 to 40 pound paper pile [of flight manuals],” said Major Brian Moritz, EFB program manager, in a phone interview. “It adds up to quite a lot of weight in paper.”The weight savings vary by aircraft across AMC’s vast airfleet, from as much as 250 pounds in a four-person C-17, up to 490 pounds in a hulking C-5 with its 10 crewmembers.
This journalist saw one of these iPads in action during his recent embed with the U.S. Air Force. In addition to easing the physical burden on aircrew, who no longer need to haul heavy flight manuals, the Department of Defense is also making big financial savings. “By removing all that paper, AMC will capture about $750,000 in fuel savings [annually] just based off the decreased weight,” said Moritz.
Removing the need to print and distribute thousands of flight manuals, however, equates to an even greater cost saving. “It comes out to just over $5 million a year,” noted Moritz. “With fuel savings, it comes out to $5.7 million annually in pure cost. When you look at $5.7 million a year, over 10 years, that’s well over $50 million.
“Some 16,000 of the third-generation iPads are now being used by AMC aircrew, with the contract’s remaining 2,000 iPads deployed across other Air Force units. The device’s 9.7-inch display, its user interface, and the ability to access information rapidly were all key selling points, according to Moritz.
Even the simple “CTRL F” word search function, for example, is a huge time saver, something that could be crucial in an emergency. “Say that you have an engine problem or an engine fire over the North Atlantic,” said Moritz. “Having a device that you can use the search function and quickly pick out key words will drive you to a deeper level while you’re pushed for time.
“Like any electronic device used by the military, security is of paramount importance. “The camera and the Wi-Fi are turned off unless the device is in a pre-determined, undisclosed location where its OS certificates can be updated,” said Jeff Shields, advanced technologies branch chief in AMC’s Communications Directorate. “They are allowed to enable that wireless for a minimal pre-determined amount of time — we coordinated long and hard to develop some pretty clear guidance documentation that went out to all units.
“Clearly, the EFB trend is taking off. The Air Force’s Global Strike Command, for example, recently advertised for a contractor to supply 700 to 1,000 EFB application licenses.Apple sold 19.5 million iPads during its recent fiscal second quarter, up from 11.8 million in the year-ago quarter.
Electronic Flight Bags could boost operational safety, effectiveness
by Capt. Kathleen Ferrero
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
12/14/2011 – SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) — Improved safety, operational effectiveness and efficiency are just a few reasons Air Mobility Command officials are looking into using tablet devices such as electronic flight bags for aircrew members reference materials in the cockpit during in-flight emergencies.
“Moving from a paper-based to an electronically-based flight publication system will not only enhance operational effectiveness, it can also save the Department of Defense time and money,” said Maj. Gen. Rick Martin, the AMC Director of Operations.
In coming months, AMC will be conducting an in-depth analysis of EFB implementation on multiple airframes based on earlier test results from a study at Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
Officials anticipate a final decision on the EFB initiative by early spring with the goal of using the devices across the total force mobility fleet.
As part of the DOD’s efficiency efforts, AMC is always on the lookout for innovative, cost-effective solutions that also enhance mission effectiveness, Martin said. “Electronic flight bags are becoming an industry standard due to their operational, environmental and cost savings benefits,” Martin said.
“While AMC’s mission is similar to commercial carriers in several ways, we are examining every factor before we make a decision,” he said. “We must ensure that the technology not only augments our mission capability, but it would be employed to the maximum extent possible and that we implement appropriate control measures.”
According to Maj. Pete Birchenough, who heads AMC’s EFB test, the Mobility Air Forces fleet’s required flying charts are updated every 28 days.
“This equates to approximately 70 pounds of paper per aircraft each month that must be meticulously sorted, accounted for, and updated,” Birchenough said. “Accomplishing this one publication at a time requires considerable manpower and detracts from higher-priority tasks.”
Additionally, each crew member’s flight bag contains required technical orders, flight manuals and regulations and various other flight-related materials that add weight — burning fuel on each mission. With air mobility’s rigorous operations tempo, the elimination of 70 pounds of paper on each mission over time could add up to serious fuel savings.
“With limited space in the cockpit and the amount of paper that each crew has to manage, it can quickly become controlled chaos,” Birchenough said. “An electronic flight bag could solve this issue by putting all information in one place to be recalled and updated almost immediately.”
Another likely benefit is the reduction of flight publication printing and distribution costs.
An executive order released by the White House on Nov. 9 promotes efficient spending, partly by cutting printing costs: “Agencies are encouraged to limit the publication and printing of hard copy documents and to presume that information should be provided in an electronic form, whenever practicable.”
AMC officials estimate a timely return on investment for EFB tablet devices. “The Air Force is historically devoted to efficiency, fully supports (the office of the secretary of defense) efforts and is committed to make every defense dollar count,” Martin said. If test results reveal that an electronic flight publication system would enhance operational effectiveness and prove cost-effective, then AMC’s next step would be to seek an EFB device that best fits mission requirements. “This is not a new initiative,” Martin said. “(Air Mobility Command) has been looking at tablet and mobile devices for several years as possible tools for increasing mission productivity, decreasing office automation costs and achieving other potential benefits such as portability and flexibility,” Martin said. “As the evaluation process wraps up during the coming months, we’re going to scrutinize all information on the table to make the best decision for our operators and our future force,” he said. USAF Official Article Here: www.af.mil/news/story.asp