by Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
8/2/2012 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- The
Reserve aircrews in the 446th Airlift Wing won't be using their
fingertips to flip through thick technical orders to increase their
knowledge anymore. Instead, they will be drawing them across touch
screens on light and handy electronic tablets.
Air Mobility Command purchased about 300 Apple iPad 3 tablets for 446th
AW aircrews, which will start being assigned to pilots and loadmasters
Aug. 3 here, and will eventually serve as the primary tool for aircrews
once full Electronic Flight Bag (media storage used by aircrews to
accomplish their duties) implantation occurs.
"This is a true progression in embracing technology," said Chief Master
Sgt. Jim Masura, 446th Operations Group Standard Evaluation loadmaster.
"Our crews will be able to access information quicker."
Masura, who resides in Graham, says this is the ideal technology that aircrews can use for information access.
"Trying to use a laptop is slower," he said. "Having a small useful
device will be a great step toward arming our crews with information to
accomplish their jobs safely and efficiently."
The chief says he anticipates a good return on investment with the crew using the iPads.
"The benefit will be increased efficiency and future expansion," Masura said. "It's a good proven platform."
Lt. Col. Pete Buehn, 446th OG Standard Evaluation pilot says private airlines are using the same technology.
"Some of the commercial airlines our pilots fly for are using the same
platform, so the feedback should be constructive," Buehn said.
According to Masura, the iPad received the best feedback when it came to AMC deciding on the ideal platform.
"Several other bases did the testing for the brand of tablet that was
selected," Masura said. "I am sure it was based off of ease of use."
Buehn said that even his limited use of the iPad supports the convenience and money savings afforded by tablet devices.
"I use an iPad already for regulation reference and have found it
beneficial," Buehn said. "Just think of all the reduction in paper and
the distribution there of."
Masura says the new tablets will consolidate the group's current method for information access.
"Currently, we provide a means for the crewmember to receive all of
their publication electronically with a thumb drive for self study,"
said the 26-year Reservist. "They then have to provide their own
computer for viewing these publications. The iPads allow us to not only
give them the publications, but also a convenient means of reading those
The iPads won't immediately phase out the current process, Masura said. They will implement them in steps.
"We are beginning phase one of the project which is just for self
study," Masura said. "We will give every body six months to get use to
using the iPads and their information before we have them use them
during their missions."
In the first phase they are a simple e-reader, which makes accessing
electronic publications easier than from a laptop in most situations,
Buehn said, who lives in Puyallup.
"As part of phase two, we will eliminate several of our required
carry-paper publications and view these exclusively on the iPad or
flight planning computer in our trip kits," Masura said.
In future phases, the iPads will be part of each crewmember's required
carried equipment, Masura said. This will be done as a cost and weight
As beneficial as the tablets will be once implemented, the command will
able to overcome roadblocks as they come up, according to Buehn and
"I think the biggest drawback is going to be keeping them safe from damage," said the chief.
Reading the tablet at night and being at the battery's mercy could pose
potential problems, according to Buehn, who's been with the 446th AW
However, Masura says everything is going as planned, so far.
"I started using one of the first iPads a week ago and I am learning new
things every day," Masura said. That is the idea behind this phased
Masura said they'll being instructing pilots and loadmasters on the
iPads, Aug 3. and will start the aircrews on computer-based training.