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In this day and age, it is all about technology. You almost can’t look to your left or right without seeing someone tapping away on their tablet or showing friends Facebook photos on their iPhone. As such, why shouldn’t we at American Airlines equip our people with the best technology, particularly as we continue toward becoming a new and more modern airline?

Technology is constantly evolving. And we in the aviation industry need to evolve too. Long gone are the days where pads of paper and fax machines served as the standard means of communicating. Today, it’s LCD screens and motion activation, smartphones and connectivity at your fingertips. Our customers are smart, savvy and business-minded and expect our people to be as well.

By arming our people with new ways of doing business — at the airport, during the reservations process, onboard the aircraft or in the process of readying an aircraft for departure — we are making sure to give them access to tools, information and processes to ensure their capabilities are better matched to that of our customers. But our technology improvements are not simply technology for the sake of technology. Rather, we have made decisions in order to deliver our products and services better to you, whether that be improved operations or a more personal experience with us.

For starters, we have made some exciting decisions in the past few months. We have become the first commercial carrier to receive FAA approval to use the Apple iPad in the cockpit during all phases of flight. Every American pilot will receive an iPad, which will become their Electronic Flight Bag (EFB). After months of research, evaluation, testing and approvals, we intend for the devices to help flight crews perform flight management tasks more easily and much more efficiently than before. The EFB will reduce or replace paper-based reference material often found in a pilot’s carry-on kitbag, including manuals and charts.

At less than two pounds, the tablet device contains as much information as a kitbag but weighs far less. By removing a 35-pound kitbag from each American plane, we estimate that we’ll save $1.2 million of fuel annually based on current fuel prices — that’s huge! This initiative will help vastly improve the work environment for pilots, increase fuel efficiency, reduce American’s reliance on paper products and ultimately aid in our overall efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

You may also notice in the next few months that your flight attendant will be using a sleeker, more modern device onboard the aircraft. Later this year, we will begin to roll out Samsung Galaxy Note® devices to every flight attendant. At 5.3 inches, the device is small enough to fit into a flight attendant’s palm but has a clear, crisp screen that provides excellent readability. As part of the tablet rollout, flight attendants will be able to record premium class food and beverage preferences and have the ability to see important customer data like seat assignments, a customer’s loyalty program status, connecting gate information, delay information and requests for special services.

American plans to be the first airline to offer a tablet that combines the customer data functionality with the point-of-sale functionality to every flight attendant, pending FAA approval.

We will continue to introduce new functionalities to the devices over time to better your flying experience with us, so we encourage you to stay tuned.

We have also been in test mode with our mechanics teams and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 devices. The tablets allow our operations teams to manage tasks, communicate with engineers, view technical information and review maintenance history planeside. Our ramp crews are also using mobile technology, giving them the opportunity to scan baggage and cargo planeside, ensure bags are correctly loaded and improve the accuracy of weight and balance numbers. All of this not only saves us time, but helps us improve our on-time and customer service performance!

We are moving toward a new, innovative airline — and I hope just these few examples show you that we are on the road to putting the right technologies in the hands of our people to improve our performance and improve your experience.

As always, thank you for choosing American. I hope you have an enjoyable flight.

Craig S. Kreeger
Senior Vice President – Customer
American Airlines