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IMS EMEA Newsletter Issue 6 - October 2011

 

iPad soars ahead in portable cockpit devices

 

iPad soars ahead in portable cockpit devicesAs we go to press the business aviation industry's biggest annual event is taking place in Las Vegas. One of the key stories emerging is just how dominant the iPad is becoming in the cockpit.

The certified small computer from Apple offers a large screen that makes it possible to read charts and text without zooming. It is also lightweight and easy to carry with a battery life of nearly 10 hours. Mobile connectivity allows for easy chart updates and on-the-go weather briefings. It is also relatively cheap. It is also useful for other tasks apart from flying. It is easy to access pre-flight weather briefings and look at more weather graphics using an iPad.

Indeed ARINC's own new cockpit application for the iPad has already garnered attention, drawing some 2,000 downloads during the three-month beta-testing period. The app gives pilots streamlined access to flight plans, weather information, charts, and NOTAMS through the ARINC Direct portal. It also updates and stores all flight-relevant information automatically each time a pilot logs on.

Additionally, pilots can update flight plans using the iPad touchscreen, and e-mail uploads using “sign and send” technology available with SwiftBroadband connectivity.

A widely accepted figure is that 65% of pilots now use iPads in the cockpit - and that number is growing. According to one company, 90% of requests for its services come from Apple devices, with only 8% of contact coming from BlackBerry and other Smartphone types.

So where does that leave other devices? Not entirely out in the cold it would seem. Many developers are creating cross platform apps that will work on different operating systems. And there is still the back of the aircraft to contend with. The Android Operating System is developing apace and Smartphone and tablet manufacturers are battling for a slice of the action on the ground, so it will be interesting to see how manufacturers will respond with connectivity offerings.

Setting aside what happens in the cockpit, Android has the largest user base of operating systems on mobile devices. Most chip sales today are going to mobile manufacturers. The industry heavyweight giant is producing Android OS variants, and the ensuing management of apps to support their software product.

It is not yet clear how all this will impact inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC). For the most part, IFEC manufacturers are small vendors compared to the size of the operating systems behemoths and, using the scale of the present compensatory judgements for these types of infringements, any compensation awarded would not cover the legal costs of mounting such a challenge.

Mobile cockpit connectivity is still a dark art, however, and earlier this year a proposed US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advisory circular (AC) that could have limited general aviation operators' use of iPads and other devices was not intended to do so, according to the FAA. The agency is making revisions to the AC, “Guidelines for the Certification, Airworthiness, and Operational Use of Electronic Flight Bags EFB,” to clarify that it is only applicable for Part 135 and 121 operators, not pilots operating under Part 91.

 

 

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Vol6-3smallARINC International: From strength to strength

Profits ploughed back into product development to meet international customers' needs. ARINC's International Division has continued its successful growth path throughout 2011, achieving significant contract wins in the commercial aviation, business aviation and airport sectors in the EMEA and Asia Pacific regions.

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