updated 09:20 am EST, Thu February 22, 2007
iPods used as "black box"
Pilots may soon rely on the iPod for the operation of their aircraft. A new report indicates that the hugely popular iPod media player may become an integral part of one airplane manufacturer's airplane design. The iPod could become a flight data recorder (FDR) following an announcement by US light aircraft manufacturer LoPresti Speed Merchants to introduce the device in the cockpit of its Fury piston aircraft, Flight reports. The Florida-based company is planning for "full integration of the iPod into the Fury's avionics systems." The report says that the iPod will serve as a digital data recorder, a.k.a as the "black box"--often used to help determine the cause of plane crashes/tragedies.
Along with suitable software, the iPod can be used to record important flight data and equipment readings to its internal hard drive, offering the ability to record over 500h of flight time data.
The company, however, was not specific about the types of information that would be recorded, the report said. Recorders are currently used to collect data for maintenance purposes through system monitoring, for post-flight analysis in training and safety-monitoring, and, when suitably protected, for crash investigation.
"This is a watershed technology for aviation," says LoPresti vice president of operations, RJ Siegel, "and we are delighted to be the first to bring it to market." The Fury (pictured below) will prove the concept, but once certificated, the iPod FDR could be deployed on other light aircraft.
iPods, however, are not just limited to cockpits. One innovative Mexican airline has already begun renting iPods to passengers, ahead of planned iPod integration by many of the major US airlines.