LoPresti SpeedMerchants has integrated an Apple iPod mp3 player into its single-engine Fury aircraft, offering buyers a low-cost option for entertainment as well as enhanced safety.

"It was one of those 'Why didn't I think of that before?' moments," says RJ Siegel, vice-president of operations at LoPresti.

Siegel says the development was prompted by customer requests for an entertainment system but, rather than offering the typical choice of a CD player, Siegel decided to bring in some new technology with an interface between the aircraft and an iPod.

Along with greater functionality, he says the system will offer enhanced reliability. "Most avionics for aircraft have terrible mean-time-before-failure because the market is so small," Siegel says. "Apple sells about 5,000 iPods every hour. They fix problems quickly."

In addition to providing customers with enough memory storage for 10,000 songs, the iPod will be able to record 500h of flight performance data for as many as eight parameters - for instance, engine performance data or routeing - and it can be used to record cockpit radio communications for playback of clearances or for post-flight analysis.

Engineers are currently developing the graphics software to be used for displaying the performance data after a flight.

Source: Flight International