Apple Computer's popular iPod music player could become a flight data recorder (FDR) following an announcement by US light aircraft manufacturer LoPresti SpeedMerchants to introduce the device in the cockpit of its Fury piston aircraft.
The company says it plans the "full integration of the iPod into the Fury's avionics systems". The iconic 'white box' iPod will serve as a digital data recorder, nicknamed 'black boxes' by the general media. The iPod, with suitable software, acts as a hard disk with the ability to record over 500h of flight time data.
It was not immediately clear from the company's statement which parameters would be recorded and for what purpose. 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.
Vero Beach, Florida-based LoPresti. "The iPod becomes the first truly portable, personal flight recorder with a huge recording capacity."
"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.
The iPod can also act as an audio recorder, and can be used to capture two-way cockpit conversation and communication with air traffic control.
The iPod FDR would work with the patented iPod Dock Connector port on the bottom of the iPod, for which there is a large software developer community. "This is the perfect marriage of a consumer product to the aviation market" says Siegel. "The iPod has an ideal product spec for aviation. It's light and small, with very low power requirements and a simple interface. There are thousands of developers passionate about writing applications for the iPod. With such a large body of programmers we literally have no idea what the next great aviation application may be.”