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Qantas introduces customer and pilot iPads

If in-flight entertainment is your favourite thing on a long haul flight, this latest announcement by Australian airline Qantas is sure to interest you. The company recently announced a shift away from RIM’s BlackBerry devices for its staff, but now it looks like passengers will benefit from their replacement too, in the form of a fleet of new devices, supplied by a little known manufacturer called Apple.

The airline polled its staff on the implementation of BlackBerry handsets as their primary work devices and following the feedback has decided to now supply pilots with iPhones and iPad. The benefits will really be felt in cabin however, as the airline are also investing in an initial batch of 2200 iPads for passengers flying on their fleet of Boeing 767-300s.

The new 64GB 3G tablets are being offered to help connect passengers to the airline’s no in-flight streaming service, ‘Q Stream’, set to be the new way for passengers to select their entertainment of choice with around 200 hours of content on offer. Presumably the service operates over the plane’s WiFi network via AirPlay, although no technical information on the app itself has been released from Qantas.

Qantas Domestic CEO, Lyell Strambi stated that, “Following the successful trial of our QStreaming service this year, we will partner with Panasonic and use their eXW solution to provide over 200 hours of on-demand IFE content via iPads to every passenger in Business and Economy travelling on our B767 fleet. QStreaming will be available free of charge to all our passengers across the B767 fleet. ”

So why drop the in-seat screens in place of Apple’s famed tablet? According to 9to5Mac, the implementation of iPad’s amongst both pilots and passengers is expected to save the airline around $1.5 million annually, in an effort to not only offer more user-friendly devices, but use the tablets in place of costly printing of flight documents.

Qantas CIO Paul Jones told the Sydney Morning Herald that iPhones for their pilots mean a, “user-friendly interface and simple access to emails, contacts and calendars, as well as meeting all Qantas’ security requirements.

The iPads will be available on domestic flights on Australia’s East Coast and cross-country to Perth.

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