Why American Airlines Threw Away Paper Flight Plans in Favor of iPads

An app glitch has caused several flights to be delayed.

ByABC News
April 29, 2015, 4:45 PM

— -- Who knew your captain consulted his or her iPad during a commercial flight?

Several American Airlines flights were delayed today after glitches were reported in a third-party software application before takeoff, according to the airline.

The problem was first reported Tuesday night.

"In some cases, the flight has had to return to the gate to access a WiFi connection to fix the issue," an American Airlines spokeswoman said in a statement to ABC News. "We apologize for the inconvenience to our customers. We are working to have them on the way to their destination as soon as possible."

Pilots rely on a third-party application on their iPads to access flight plans and maps, according to the airline.

The issue persisted for a few hours until American implemented a workaround for the few flights that had been impacted.

The airline said only some of the iPads with the software were affected and that it was not a widespread issue.

In 2011, American Airlines became the first commercial carrier to gain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to transition from paper flight plans to an iPad-based solution. The tablets were widely implemented in 2013.

It was estimated at the time that moving from the bulky 35-pound kitbag each pilot had to carry on a flight to a digital solution would not only create an easier process for pilots but also would save $1.2 million in fuel costs per year.

ABC News' David Kerley contributed to this report.