FedEx Blog

FedEx Blog

A Pilot Kit for the 21st Century

September 30, 2013

For years, pilots have been carrying around their pilot kit.

What is in a pilot kit? Well, during the first day of ground school as a pilot, you are handed a stack of books.  One book to describe how to fly the airplane, another book to describe the systems on the airplane, another book of company procedures, regulations and rules to follow…you get the idea.  Oh wait…then there are all of the navigation charts that have all of the procedures and instructions on how to fly in and out of each individual airport.

An airport for a city like Memphis might have close to 50 pages of charts. For a pilot flying around the world, the navigation charts alone can add up to several thousand pages.  Unlike general aviation, airlines like FedEx are governed by more strict rules regarding the information that must be available on the aircraft, which means lots and lots of paper.

But then there was the fun part—revisions! All of the information mentioned above changed every few weeks. Removing and replacing individual pages, reprinting entire manuals, distributing them to pilots throughout the world was a bi-weekly ritual here at FedEx. We shipped and sent the equivalent of several phone books to our pilots every year and we also kept copies of the information on-board the aircraft for reference by our crews. The pilot kit on a FedEx MD11 aircraft that can fly to any corner of the earth weighed in at a hefty 125 pounds.

Just like you’ve probably abandoned your old heavy phone books because you can look up information digitally now, FedEx is doing the same thing. In addition to on-aircraft computer access to digital information, we’ve finished distributing over 4,300 iPads to all our pilots so they can access all necessary information onscreen, and now we’re in the process of taking all the paper kits off all the airplanes in our fleet. It’s a lot of paper— 32 TONS worth!

What you see in the photos here is just a small part of it, stacked under one of our vintage Falcons at one of our training centers in Memphis. We’ll be recycling all of it, of course, as part of our EarthSmart commitment to sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint in responsible and resourceful ways. Removing this paper from our aircraft is the equivalent of removing 780 cars from the road every year that drive 12,000 miles per year and get 20 miles per gallon.

Paper removal is a first step. Beyond simply reproducing paper manuals on a computer, it is key to FedEx that our pilot kit provides the “right information at the right time” to our pilots every day, so they can make the safest and most efficient decisions possible before, during, and after their flights.

*Video below is courtesy of the Memphis Commercial Appeal:


    David says:

    That is a lot of paper. Well done!

    Annette Weinerman says:

    What a great example of QDM in action! By making it MUCH easier for pilots to access the right information at the right time you have put your customer (the pilots) first. And you have optimized business performance at the same time. Congratulations on an excellent effort!

    Tim Nave says:


    Bonnie Kourvelas says:

    Cool story!! So glad that FedEx will be recycling all that paper. 🙂

    Betty says:

    Now thats what I call a company that cares for the environment. “Eco-Friendly”

    Pam Crittendon Roberson says:

    That’s an awesome accomplishment! BZ to all!

    Anand says:

    This is really thinking outside the box. Kudos to FedEx team for coming up with this innovative idea.

    Jim says:

    Nice to see they are using Apple Products. They are the future.

    Asher Green says:

    AWESOME!!! A lot of trees are eternaly grateful for this fantastic idea you guys have put into place!

    This is truly one step closer to a paperless society, as I look forward to the day when ebook readers and pad devices are standard equipment everywhere.


    Bonnie Kourvelas says:

    As Jim Bowman remarked, “the back injury rate has gone down”! Pilots must be glad not to be lugging 40-pound bags up the flight stairs. It’s all accessible now at their fingertips. Very cool!

    Jason says:

    This success is due to the fantastic cooperation between FedEx OpCo’s:
    Wireless & Wired Network Engineering (Services),
    InfoSec (Services),
    Planning & Analysis (Express),
    Repair Service Center (TechConnect),
    Finance (Express),
    AirOps Technology (Express),
    Flight Training (Express),
    and Flight Technical (Express)

    D.Wallace says:

    Long before FedEx began flying around the world my father flew clippers around the world and spent hours doing his own jepp revisions. PAA didn’t have the resources today’s int’l pilots have. His brain bag weighed more than his wallet, and he had to lug both up 2 flights of stairs every leg. I’m sure today’s drivers appreciate the transition to ipads.

    Sarah Wilson says:

    There must also be a benefit in the worker’s compensation claims that won’t be filed from all that heavy lifting and lugging. Another step well done by FedEx!

    Andrew Sadler says:

    Amazing…Great job!

    Vince says:

    Great job! But what’s to become of all those heavy-duty tote-bags? I’m sure team members could find a variety of good uses for them at work or home….

    Jane says:

    Great idea. What are you doing with the bags once they’re empty?? Probably could be recycled as earthquake preparedness kits…I’d take one.

    Mary Hudson says:

    Quite an interesting read. Job well done!

    Esther says:

    The black bags should go up for bid in the next United Way or some on line auction to raise money for a good cause. One set each with manuals should be given to the Smithsonian and to the Pink Palace Museum because it is history.

    Deborah says:

    I remember updating Jepp manuals for a number of pilots. This is a huge step forward for these guys. Congrats to all who were involved in making this happen!

    Chris Patteson says:

    Well done….not a pilot, but I assume they think this is well overdue and great cost savings. Looking for other innovations as we have to move forward!

    laurent Cherif says:

    Innovation, again & again ! In the past with Dassault Falcons, and now with Apple. Great job !

    Sue Watson says:

    Team Purple does it again! Awesome news for the pilots. I am so proud to work for a company that is a smart as FedEx!

    Kammy Leung says:

    OMG…they worth 32T of payload !? Well done

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