Software Problems On iPads Stop American Airlines Flights

When American Airlines chose to switch its pilots over to an electronic flight bag using iPads they probably never expected a technology failure to cause them problems. It appears that this is the case though, with several users on Twitter reporting that they are sat on the ground in American Airlines planes after the flight crew's iPads crapped out on them.

It seems highly unlikely that it is the iPad itself that is causing the problems, rather the software used to manage flight plans and information, which is provided by a Boeing subsidiary.

This shouldn't detract from the success of technology in this situation. Despite the headlines talking evocatively about iPads, airplanes and crashes, the devices are not used as part of the control system for the plane. So the problems are more of an inconvenience rather than disaster nature.

It does raise the question over whether American Airlines considered the processes around its electronic flight bags properly. Had it done it would probably have seen the flaw in its solution as it has presented today.

It used to be that flight systems on planes needed to be sourced from two different manufacturers and installed in duplicate. Had American Airline chosen to supply pilots with iPad based solutions and the co-pilots with Microsoft Surface solutions it would probably never have suffered this embarrassing outage.

When deploying any new system proper risk analysis is a key part of delivering success.