easyJet operates Europe's No. 1 air transport network with a leading presence on Europe's top 100 routes and at Europe's 50 largest airports. easyJet carries over 65 million passengers annually, of which more than 12 million are travelling on business. easyJet flies over 200 aircraft with more than 700 routes on sale across 32 countries and over 130 airports. More than 300 million Europeans live within one hour's drive of an easyJet airport, more than any other airline.
The flight deck of an aircraft in one of the world’s busiest airlines can be a tough place for technology. Busy schedules, flying at altitude and landing overnight at some of the coldest and hottest destinations in Europe. This means that any new equipment must be able to cope with the most difficult of conditions and still be user friendly. So when easyJet was looking to update the pilot crews’ existing Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 rugged notebooks, it chose one of Panasonic’s latest rugged Toughpad tablets.
Panasonic’s rugged laptops were initially deployed to replace the paper documentation, weighing over 20 kilos, that each plane had to carry in its flight deck. The documentation provided vital data for the pilots to calculate take-off and landing information, as well as technical and route information. Initially replacing the heavy paper-based system with electronic manuals on the Panasonic Toughbook notebooks significantly reduced fuel costs, as well as improved efficiency and ease of use for the crew. Moving to a tablet provided additional opportunities for improvements, said Anthony Spouncer, Senior Project Manager for IT Operations Systems at easyJet.
“We initially carried out desktop, simulator and then actual trials with a very well-known consumer tablet but we did not believe the device was suitable for aircraft issue. We had various update issues with the applications we use and fundamental issues around the suitability of the device. Keeping the device in the aircraft meant that it would be exposed to some extreme temperatures overnight which led to failures, for example in Russia”
“We ultimately chose the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 tablet because it would run Microsoft, our chosen operating system, and had the rugged pedigree to operate in our environment,” explained Anthony.
easyJet today has 226 aircraft, each carrying two Panasonic Toughpad tablets with Microsoft Windows 7 operating systems running Airbus FlySmart applications for calculations, Airbus AirN@v for engineering documentation, LIDO electronic route manual for charts and Vistair DocuNet for technical documentation. The devices are docked in cradles in the cockpits and have their own power solution designed and certified for the Panasonic Toughpad solution.
“The new Panasonic Toughpad tablets were the right choice for easyJet for a number of factors,” said Anthony. “Firstly their reliability and environmental pedigree at withstanding temperatures from minus 25 up to 65 degrees. Their rugged nature and ability to last in tough work environments, the ability to hot swap the batteries so they can work as long as the crew need them to and the fact that Panasonic was willing to provide us with DO-160 certification sets them apart.” DO-160 sets the standard for the design of avionics electronic hardware in airborne systems, covering areas such as working temperature range, altitude, humidity and shock vibration capabilities.
“Panasonic has been extremely supportive throughout this project in helping us to transition from the Toughbook notebooks to the Toughpad tablets and it is paying off in terms of improved ease of use for the crew and improved efficiencies for the business,” concluded Anthony.
easyJet next plans to incorporate crew briefing information onto the Panasonic Toughpad tablets, allowing crew to receive all the essential flight information they require through just one device.
The Toughpad FZ-G1 has been designed for mobile workers who spend much of their time working outside or from vehicles. The thin and lightweight device, weighing only 1.1kg, has been designed to take full advantage of the functionality offered by Microsoft Windows and offers two-way touch input with its capacitive 10-finger multi-touch screen and digitizer pen for tasks.
The first fully rugged device to use the latest IPSα Panel technology, developed by Panasonic, the FZ-G1 provides new levels of viewing quality for tablet users working in bright sunlight. Offering extra wide viewing angles, strengthened glass, high contrast ratio and 800cd/m2 high brightness paired with a Panasonic anti-reflection layer, the 10.1” over Full HD (1920x1200) Resolution screen is purpose built to perform in any light conditions.
The Toughpad family is designed to meet the same incredible durability standards as Panasonic’s Toughbook notebook product line. The Toughpad FZ-G1 has a MIL-STD-810G rating for 120cm drops as well as an IP65 ingress protection rating for resistance to dust and water. The device is also rated for use in extreme temperatures.
With built-in battery saving technology such as its ambient light sensor, the Toughpad FZ-G1 can operate for 8.0 hours on its standard 6-cell battery and with an optional 9-cell battery can run for 16 hours. Batteries can also be switched in the field to ensure the device is operational as long as the user requires it and offering businesses better total cost of ownership than traditional tablets.