IBM Wins Historic ThinkPad Deal With UK's Leading Charter Airline, Britannia Airways

Britannia the First Airline With 'e-Flight Decks' Across Entire Fleet

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London - 30 Jan 2003: Big Blue is taking to the skies with Britannia Airways, creating e-Flight decks on the airline's entire fleet of Boeing 757s and 767s. In a deal worth $1.6 million (1 million U.K. pounds), IBM is equipping Britannia's 430 pilots with IBM ThinkPad X24 laptop computers, which will give pilots electronic access to all the airplane manuals required on the flight deck. The ThinkPad notebooks will hold information previously contained in as many as 20 bulky flight manuals, and facilitate essential calculations to improve flight efficiency.

Using the ThinkPad X24, pilots will be able to generate greater fuel and maintenance efficiency by calculating the loading of each flight with the utmost precision. This will enable them to accurately assess fuel requirements and keep stress on the engines to a minimum. These requirements were previously calculated manually using a variety of complex formulas, which took into account the weight of the payload and weather conditions.

Another benefit for the pilots will be the ability to view the complete approach details for any landing on their ThinkPad X24 - including all relevant data and images, a benefit that will be particularly useful in poor-light conditions. The computerized take off performance also provides significant cost savings.

The IBM contract follows a successful trial, during which the ThinkPad X24s successfully negotiated a series of tough Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) tests (1) to check their ruggedness and performance during in-flight conditions. These tests included ensuring that they did not interfere with navigational equipment as well as checking the laptops' continued performance once they had been dropped from a considerable height. The ThinkPad X24s were also tested for performance under conditions of decompression, overpressure and high-altitude.

"We evaluated the products available on the market very carefully and we are confident that we made the right choice." says Iain Andrew, IT and Change Director, Britannia. "The ThinkPad X24 is small enough to meet our need for mobility and space saving, without sacrificing the high-performance and stability that we require for this sort of controlled environment. The use of 21st century technology to improve flight deck efficiencies and reduce the requirement for paper based solutions is a major step for Britannia."

"This is not only significant for Britannia, but also an industry first that we are proud to be part of," says Ken Batty, Marketing Manager, IBM Personal Computing Division. "As with all airlines in the current environment, Britannia has to keep costs to a minimum and increase efficiency to stay competitive. We believe Britannia has the right approach in deploying innovative technology to increase their efficiency and Return on Investment."

The contract also includes an IBM services deal over seven years to maintain an e-Flight deck help-desk. In early 2002, Britannia's sister company, TUI UK, also announced an eight-year technology services relationship with IBM Global Services to establish a single computing structure for all of its UK businesses including Britannia Airways.

(1) The following tests were carried out on behalf of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to comply with the CAA standard D0160D, which regulates the use of electronic equipment aboard aircraft.