Trucking isn’t alone in trying to find a balance between personal and business use by drivers of company-issued smart devices like tablets.  Many airlines now issue iPads with aircraft manuals, chart and other documents to their pilots, who increasingly have access to broadband WiFi during trips.  And according to an article in the current Aviation Week & Space Technology, airlines are looking at tools to monitor and control pilot use of those devices for non-business activities.

Sr. avionics and safety editor John Croft, carriers United Airlines and FedEx are already using iPads as a way to provide chart and document backups to pilots, and plans call for expanding use to real-time applications such as en route weather planning.  Pilots, apparently, are also using the devices for personal functions like checking email or downloading local street maps.

United, for one, has adopted a new tool that lets them keep all devices updated with the latest official documents and still give pilots access to an approved list of personal apps.  It can also monitor device status and memory without violating a pilot’s privacy.

AirWatch’s MDM “allows you to gain visibility over the devices, . . . configure and update device settings over the air, and enforce security policies and compliance across your entire device fleet,” the company says. That gives an airline the ability to update documents across a fleet, track a lost iPad and erase its contents, see what applications pilots have downloaded and delete any that shouldn’t be there. It sounds Orwellian, but airlines see it as essential in the world of connected devices.