When a story emerges of yet another airline handing out tablet computers to members of its flight crew, you might automatically think Apple had scored another win with its popular iPad. Delta, United and British Airways are, after all, in the process of equipping crew members with the Cupertino company’s big-selling device.
However, Emirates, one of the world’s biggest airlines, is daring to be different. No iPads for this Dubai-based carrier; instead, it’s opting for the yet-to-launch HP ElitePad 900 Windows 8 tablet.
The tablet will run a version of Emirates’ Knowledge Driven Inflight Service (KIS) business app, the company’s in-flight communication and customer relationship management software which it has been using for the last eight years.
The app allows staff to quickly learn about passenger preferences and needs, and can also be used to conduct in-flight upgrades to business class or first class for members of Skywards, Emirates’ frequent flyer program.
The business-oriented ElitePad 900 features a 10.1-inch display with a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, 2 GB RAM, 32/64 GB SSD, a microSD slot, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, a front-facing camera, a Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity option and 802.11 Wi-Fi.
The device was reportedly chosen for its light weight (1.5 lb) and long battery life (expandable with the HP ElitePad Jacket Battery), making it ideal for non-stop flights. One assumes Emirates also believes the new Windows 8 operating system is better equipped to run its KIS app than Google and Apple’s respective mobile operating systems.
The tablet, unveiled last month ahead of a January 2013 launch, will be deployed across Emirates’ fleet of aircraft, with a total of 1,000 units expected to be utilized by crew members over the next 12 months.
Announcing the move on Monday, Kevin Griffiths, senior vice president of cabin crew at Emirates, said, “To support our crew, we have created an application on Windows 8 that delivers a unique, personalized experience with the necessary information for our cabin crew to better serve the needs of customers.”
He continued, “The Windows 8 platform running on HP ElitePad 900 devices gave us this option, allowing us to create the KIS app that enables our crew to offer an experience not available on other airlines.”
Last month Emirates vice president Patrick Brannelly said the airline promised to “keep pushing the boundaries of in-flight innovation,” announcing it was allowing passengers on its A380 planes to use their cell phones to make calls during flights.
Tech-wise, the carrier has always endeavored to keep up with the latest developments, being among the first to introduce on-board phones and fax machines in the 1990s, as well as offering email and text messaging services via in-seat facilities since 2006.
[Top image: Adrian Pingstone]