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FAA clears Surface 2 tablet for use in pilots' electronic flight bags
Microsoft’s Surface 2 tablets have been cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration for use by airline pilots as part of their electronic flight bags (EFBs). The tablets achieved Class 1 and Class 2 certifications, the same type of approval typically granted to other handhelds and laptops.
This doesn’t mean that all pilots will immediately be moving to Surface 2 slates to replace heavy paper manuals. Airlines must still ask for approval to get the Surface 2 on their list of approved devices but when they do, the process will be expedited as the device already meets FAA guidelines.
It’s one less step that Delta Air Lines would have had to deal with last year. If you recall, the airline announced plans to equip 11,000 pilots with Surface 2 tablets in September 2013. Compared to the 38-pound flight kit it replaces, Delta said the Surface 2s would help reduce fuel consumption by an estimated 1.2 million gallons each year and cut paper usage by 7.5 million sheets annually.
It’s worth pointing out that we’re talking about the Surface 2 only, not the higher-end Surface 2 Pro. That’s a significant distinction both in terms of hardware and software but more so, the latter. The Surface 2 runs Windows RT 8.1, an operating system with an extremely limited suite of available apps. Fewer apps could actually be a good thing for pilots as they’d have less distractions as their disposal, but I digress.
The Surface 2 is the follow up of last year’s Surface tablet from Microsoft. The Surface 2 is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor and comes in two versions versions, 32GB and 64GB of storage with 2GB of RAM. Last but not least, the Surface 2 packs USB 3.0 and HD video out.
The Surface Pro 2 is powered by an Intel Haswell processor and comes in different versions, 64GB and 128GB of storage with 4GB of RAM, as well as 256GB and 512GB editions with 8GB of RAM. The Surface Pro 2 is the follow up to last year’s Surface tablet from Microsoft sporting USB 3.0 and a mini DisplayPort ports.
The Microsoft Surface Pro offers the flexibility of a Windows 8-based tablet as well as an ultrabook-like computer. The Surface Pro is powered by a Core i5 with Intel HD Graphics 4000, 4GB of RAM, USB 3.0, and a miniDisplayPort. It also comes with a pressure-sensitive stylus with palm-rejection technology that magnetically clips to the charging port, and a Full HD (1920 x 1080) display instead of the 1366 x 768 variety on the ARM-based model.
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