iPad being replaced by Microsoft Surface 2 tablets at Delta Air Lines

By Sooraj Shah
05 Mar 2014 View Comments
Microsoft's Surface 2 back

Delta Air Lines' director of IT, Darrell Haskin, has suggested that the firm is phasing out its pilots' use of iPads and replacing the Apple devices with Microsoft Surface 2 tablets.

In October, Delta announced that it was equipping its 11,000 pilots with Microsoft Surface 2 tablets to replace paper-based flight kits.

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But at the time, Delta made no mention of pilots' use of other tablet devices in the cockpit, and claimed that the switch from paper flight kits to the Surface Pro 2 devices would help it to save $13m a year in fuel, and provide a better level of flexibility for its employees.

But speaking at Microsoft's Dynamics Convergence 2014 conference in Atlanta, Georgia, Haskin told the media that the firm would in fact start with a "hybrid" solution.

"In the cockpit we are starting with a hybrid solution; we have another unnamed device that we have 4,000 of, but we plan to roll out 8,000 Surface devices and will tell other pilots to come off their other devices as the Surface will be mandatory," he said.

This will be after an initial trial of 630 of the Microsoft tablets, which is set to go ahead this month. The airline needs approval from the FAA to use the tablet during all flight phases in 2014.

Asked whether there were any issues with take-up of the Surface 2 for the pilots, or indeed Nokia Lumia 820 devices for its 19,000 flight attendants, Haskin admitted that Delta Air Lines had anticipated a "pushback from employees".

But he went on to say that it has been a relatively simple project, and that employees are now asking for Surface 2 tablets to replace their ‘unnamed devices' as early as possible.

"When you compare [the Surface 2] to other devices, they don't have the same capabilities. One example is the split screen, which pilots could use to look at the manual and the weather at the same time," Haskin said.

"We had more than 5,000 of the ‘unnamed device' but this has now gone down to below 4,000," he added.

Haskin stated that the devices would be leased, and that when newer devices were available, Delta would exchange them accordingly. 

As part of the customer panel session, Haskin also revealed that Delta is using AirWatch as its mobile device management solution.

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