Surface 2 off to flying start as Delta equips 11,000 pilots with Microsoft’s new tablet

faa orders airlines to replace cockpit displays in 1300 jets over wi fi interference

And there was Microsoft having a hard time selling its Surface RT tablets to consumers when all along it should’ve been targeting….pilots?

Delta Airlines said Monday it’s purchasing 11,000 Surface 2 tablets for its 11,000 pilots, with the rollout starting with fliers of its fleet of Boeing 757 and 767 jets.

The tablets will replace pilots’ paper-based flight bags as part of a move by Delta to make all of its cockpits paperless by 2014.

Flight bags give flight crews easy access to essential flight-related resources such as navigational charts, reference documents, and checklists. Delta said that doing away with the heavy paper-based materials should save the airline $13 million per year in fuel and associated costs.

The airline said the resulting reduction of clutter in the cockpit will also “allow pilots to spend more time focusing on flying the aircraft” – reassuring words if you’re a particularly nervous flier, though one assumes the current situation isn’t so bad that pilots coming in to land are often battling with out-of-control flight bags, the runway obscured by hundreds of sheets of paper flying erratically around the cockpit.

Following expected approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, Delta plans to use the tablets during all phases of flight from next year.

“With the Windows RT 8.1 operating system, pilots will be able to open two applications side-by-side, offering, for example, the opportunity to assess weather information alongside proposed flight paths,” Delta said in a release. “The Live Tile user interface in Windows 8.1 can feed up-to-the-minute information to crew members while the Surface 2’s true high-resolution 1080p touchscreen display adds detail to maps and other resources.”

Microsoft will be pleased as punch with the bumper order, especially as its updated RT-based tablet was only unveiled last week. Sales of its first Surface RT tablet were dismal from the start, forcing the company to take a $900 million write-down on the device due to unsold inventory.

[Image: Carlos E. Santa Maria / Shutterstock]