Apple iPad gets flight clearance from FAA

A charter company in the US has become the first airline operator to be allowed to use the iPad as an alternative to paper navigation charts.

Executive Jet Management has been given permission for the Federal Aviation Administration to use Apple's proddable PC alongside software from flight mapping specialist Jeppesen to replace hefty wads of paper charts and maps.

The software has been rigorously tested for three months after the FAA decreed that the iPad was OK for reference but not a suitable replacement for the old-fangled method.

The US regulator has now changed its tune and has given the celebrity-friendly charter outfit's pilots the OK to dump the chart cases and rely instead on Apple's pioneering tablet.

The decision opens up the possibility of more commercial airlines taking up the iPad as their primary source of navigation charts, but each airline will have to apply to the FAA for permission and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Don't be surprised if Boeing starts building 30-pin Apple dock connectors into the flight decks of its commercial aircraft in the very near future.