Pilots Take Flight with Apple iPad and OtterBox

From the suburban setting of Lawrenceville, Ga., sister companies Georgia Jet and Critical Care Medflight are leading their industry in total technology integration — replacing reams of paper charts, procedures and maps with Apple iPad and iPad mini devices. In order to comply with federal requirements and protect their investment, the companies deployed their tablets with OtterBox Defender Series cases with the Utility Latch accessory platform.

Georgia Jet operates a private charter service, transporting executives, celebrities and athletes throughout the Western Hemisphere on a fleet of seven luxury crafts. Critical Care Medflight, on the other hand, provides fixed wing air ambulance transportation with four dedicated planes outfitted with necessary medical equipment and trained emergency services personnel. Both divisions have integrated mobile technology as a means of improving efficiency, saving time and money and ultimately providing superior service for their customers.

About Georgia Jet/Critical Care Medflight

  • Headquarters: Lawrenceville, Georgia

  • Founded: 1985

  • Employees: 70

  • Services: Georgia Jet provides executive charter services, and Critical Care Medflight provides air ambulance transportation throughout the Western Hemisphere.

  • Mobile technology: Apple iPad and iPad mini devices with OtterBox Defender Series and Utility Series Latch

“For us, communication and speed is all about service,” said President Lea Williams. “We are in the mobility business. We physically move people for various purposes, but we are also all about mobility, efficiency, security and safety.”To maintain its leadership position in these areas, the company began the process in 2011 of transitioning from the traditional paper-laden aviation methods to a digital model. Before the companies could use iPads as electronic flight bags, the Federal Aviation Administration had to approve their use. Upon approval, they moved quickly to integrate this technology, knowing the immediate impact it would have on their ability to provide even more efficient service. 

Before iPads, in order to operate at 3,000-plus airports throughout the world, pilots for Georgia Jet and Critical Care Medflight had to tote large briefcases of charts and approach plates that required constant updating. The iPads have completely changed their day-to-day operations. 

“We used to have these long update sessions in books that were thousands of pages,” said John Degonia, captain for Georgia Jet. “The iPads have cut prep time by 80 percent. We are much more prepared because all of the information is right there in the iPad. Almost as fast as we can think of it, we have what we need.”In addition to having the required approach plates, charts and maps immediately available, the iPads are also equipped with trip sheets, customs documents and company manuals. The pilots also access real-time weather alerts and file flight plans using the tablets.

The pilots aren’t alone in this technology integration. The medical staff for Critical Care Medflight uses OtterBox-equipped iPad mini devices for patient charting and documentation, communication with dispatch and medical reference guides.

“The iPad mini makes things a lot quicker and a lot more efficient for us,” said Eric Woods, director of clinical services for Critical Care Medflight. “The things that we used to chart by hand, then have to come back in and scan, we can now do digitally. Efficiency and quickness is definitely important for us in this line of work.Because of the role these devices play in the business, the companies knew that protection was a must. A broken device meant more than the cost of a repair, it meant potential downtime in a business that doesn’t tolerate delays. 

“We had a $500 iPad, and we needed some way to protect it, our pilots are not ballerinas. They are pretty rough on things, especially in the cockpit,” said Justin Beal, director of safety and standards. “The iPads get banged around with turbulence and landings, while carrying it to the airport or the hotel.“In a rush to get the iPads deployed, protection wasn’t top of mind, which ended up providing a painful lesson. The expense of reparations aside, the lack of premium protection was taking up time and distracting from more important business functions. Beal was charged with repairing devices and found that the average downtime for a shattered screen was about a week, during which time the pilots were given a loaner device. 

“Before we used OtterBox, we went with a different brand for about six to eight months, and it was a problem for us,” Beal said. “We saw a lot of screen shatters. We just had to come up with a better option, so we didn’t have all of this downtime in the future. We got OtterBox, and we haven’t had any breaks since.”

The OtterBox Defender Series offers trusted, multi-layer protection that doesn’t inhibit any features or functions of the device. A sturdy plastic shell with a built-in screen protector snaps around the device and is covered by a robust synthetic rubber skin that provides additional drop protection as well as port coverage. The case includes a screen shield that doubles as a device stand. When paired with the multi-faceted Utility Series Latch carrying accessory, the iPad is converted into an electronic kneeboard.

The OtterBox and iPad solution frees Georgia Jet and Critical Care Medflight pilots and medical staff to focus on what’s really important for the businesses — customer service. The company is flying high, with plans to double its fleet during the next year and implement additional technology enhancements along the way.


OtterBox Case Study: Georgia Jet