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IPod Support Plans For Planes, And - An IPod-based Flight Recorder "black Box?"

According to flightglobal.com, airplane manufacturers are doing the obvious - providing support for iPods in seat backs, so customers can provide their own entertainment in-flight. they are talking about providing harnesses to connect the devices, and there are even talks with Apple about providing access to iTunes services while in the air. But one airplane company is going a little bit further - they think the iPod would make a great flight recorder, or "black box."

It may sound strange, but "COTS, " or Commercial Off The Shelf equipment has been the preferred source for many military applications as well. If products meet the requirements, or the requirements can be reasonably adjusted to accommodate commercial products, then military and other applications can benefit from the economies of scale involved in commercial products, and ruggedization technologies allow many commercial products to survive harsh environments. A comment seen on Slashdot.org, though, concerning the proposed use questioned whether an iPod could survive a 30, 000 foot fall, given what the user had experienced dropping the unit onto the sidewalk.

While these "black box" applications are only currently contemplated by a small aircraft manufacturer, LoPresti SpeedMerchants, they have some sound reasons to employ the device. They note that the iPod is small, has low power consumption, has ample storage, audio recording capability, and an interface that is already popular with developers. They did not indicate if crash data would be included in their small-plane implementation, but did note that 500 hours of flight data could be recorded on the device, at a minimum to be used for maintenance purposes.

Initial thoughts behind the iTunes implementation for airplanes, according to flightglobal.com, are to establish a presence for ecommerce on commercial flights. Initially, their sources say, travelers would be able to use frequent flier miles to download entertainment to their devices. Many issues remain to be resolved, both technical and legal, as songs purchased would not currently be transferable back to computers, and licensing issues become more complicated when planes are flying in international airspace.

Plans for use of iPods on commercial airlines simply as playback devices are further along with Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Emirates and United Airlines planning to have systems in place by mid-2007. KLM and Air France were listed in the initial announcement by Apple, but the airlines denied plans and Apple spoke of a "miscommunication." These systems would provide connections to power and charge the iPod, and allow video devices to display via the seatback video display.

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2007/02/22/212269/apple-ipod-set-to-swap-white-box-for-black-box-as-lopresti-launches-data-recorder.html

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2006/04/10/205915/apple-talks-to-airline-in-flight-entertainment-developers-to-bring-itunes-to.html

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2006/11/15/210599/six-airlines-to-install-seatback-apple-ipod-sockets-for.html

http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2006/nov/14ipod.html

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Update-iPod-Integration-With-In-Flight-Entertainment-Systems-40334.shtml

By Dave Maddox - Dave is a man with his eyes open, always exploring and sharing. With undergraduate work in literature and classics at Harvard University, he has worked in the computer field to enable his travel and other ha...  

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