By Julian Bajkowski
If you’ve ever wondered why commercial and military pilots need to carry big black briefcases into the cockpit of their aircraft, you're not alone.
The chief technology officer for the Australian Department of Defence, Matt Yannopoulos, has revealed that the nation’s elite pilots and aircraft ground maintenance staff will soon be able to swap their hulking boxes-on-wheels for paper aircraft and flight documentation for iPads.
Although not quite a revolution in military affairs, the move to adopt and adapt consumer mobile devices to Defence’s own needs is emblematic of the big gains in productivity and efficiency government tech leaders are now trying to push down the line.
The leaps forward and lower costs could not come at a better time for public servants who are under stiff pressure to eliminate costs and help reduce Budget deficits.
Speaking at a panel discussion at the Technology in Government conference in Canberra, Mr Yannopoulos made no bones that he is ready to follow same route as commercial airlines.
“Qantas pilots are now flying around with iPads in the cockpit and not doco. We will be doing the same for our military pilots in the very near future,” Mr Yannopoulos said.
And while some passengers on the flying macropod’s 767s might feel Qantas flies old bombs, Defence has made sure real bombs can get to their potential targets.
That means securing the fastest and most productive turnaround times for essential maintenance on fighting and transport aircraft, including bypassing time consuming trips back from the tarmac to the office to get technical advice.
“We now have maintainers on our flight line maintaining (Boeing) Super Hornets with a mobile device out there on the tarmac and not going back to a desk,” Mr Yannopoulos said.
“This will change manifestly the work practice of those people, as it becomes not black technical manuals to task-based decision support … the ability to call for a supervisor or expert overseas. I don’t think we really understand how big an impact it’s going to be,” he said.
The high impact of mobile devices also has the full attention of Australian Taxation Office chief information officer Bill Gibson, who quipped that he hoped pilots had two iPads given their demands on batteries.
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