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Media (Apple) Media Hardware

iPods to be Used as Flight Data Recorders 200

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the cockpit-white-boxes dept.
udamahan writes "Flight Global reports small aircraft manufacturer LoPresti is introducing a system that uses an iPod as a flight data recorder. The company states that they chose the iPod for its size, low power requirements, and the 'thousands of developers passionate about writing applications for the iPod.' The article notes that data recorders are typically used for maintenance, flight/safety analysis, or, assuming proper protection, crash investigation."
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iPods to be Used as Flight Data Recorders

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  • Wow. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NerveGas (168686) on Friday March 02, 2007 @03:45AM (#18204344)

          "Black Boxes" are made to survive all kinds of unbelievable crashes, impacts, fires, explosions, etc.. Instead, these brainiacs are going to use something that breaks if it drops out of your pocket. Way to go, guys.

    steve
  • It won't break (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QueePWNzor (1044224) on Friday March 02, 2007 @03:53AM (#18204378) Journal
    They'll probably secure it properly to avoid something like that. Its size will make that easily possible. Remember inertia? It can't just fly out of where it's held. If the plane crashes, it'll be still where it was attached - just under a bit of rubble.
  • by tymbow (725036) on Friday March 02, 2007 @03:58AM (#18204412)
    I don't think they mean to replace the "blackbox" as most people understand it. It is accurately described in TFA as a Personal Flight Recorder. As a (recreational) pilot I can imagine a number of situations where it would be useful to be able to record basic flight data such as altitidue, speed, ground track etc. to look at after a flight.
  • What developers? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ptur (866963) on Friday March 02, 2007 @04:21AM (#18204506)

    'thousands of developers passionate about writing applications for the iPod.'
    What developers? At Apple? Or will PortalPlayer *finally* publish its datasheets so others can write code for it too?
  • by Aqua OS X (458522) on Friday March 02, 2007 @04:57AM (#18204666)
    As much as I love my current iPod, I'm well aware that I have had several hard drives fail on me, and I have seen countless "geniuses" hold the tiny bricks up to their ear waiting for a telltale "click...click...click." I hope these guys are using flash-based Nanos, because a number of their bigger siblings die from hanging out in a moving pants pocket. I'm not saying those tiny little hard drives a cursed, I'm simply saying that a 30gig iPod wouldn't be my first choice for something that was supposed to survive a plane crash without needing data recovery service.
  • It's kinda sad.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wellingj (1030460) on Friday March 02, 2007 @05:55AM (#18204870)

    assuming proper protection, crash investigation.

    There are alot of people saying that this is stupid because their iPod
    breaks when it falls out of thier pocket. I would say RTFA but, if you can't
    bother to read the whole posting on /. it's kinda pointless to expect any
    kind of intelligent posting.
    Go on, -1 troll me. See if I give a fsck, I still call BS when I see it.
  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Friday March 02, 2007 @06:03AM (#18204914) Homepage
    Even if they use flash-based iPod as opposed to hard drive-based one, it's still a very bad choice. You can have two flash cards with any interface recording flight data in parallel (pretending to be RAID1), in a continuous stream treating both cards as ring buffers, so each bit is overwritten once per cycle. Even with $15-20 modern flash cards you can get 1G before old data will be overwritten, and 100T (assuming that the cards are never changed) before 1/2 probability of an error. If we assume that black box records voice at 8Kbps and another 8Kbps records the flight data, that's more than 135 hours. If the voice is recorded at 64Kbps, you get 30 hours from a pair of cards. That's at most $40 of storage -- it can be expanded if necessary by adding more cards.

    What is the point of adding some expensive, unreliable device that contains completely useless audio playback and input circuitry?
  • by jimmydevice (699057) on Friday March 02, 2007 @06:55AM (#18205134)
    Can this information be used for aircraft maintenance? It seems using a non-certified device to record data that will be used to perform service would open a repair center to a lawsuit. How can you be assured that the data is correct? It seems the only application would be to record your flight profile for playback in flightsim.
  • by rvw (755107) on Friday March 02, 2007 @07:10AM (#18205190)

    I don't think they mean to replace the "blackbox" as most people understand it. It is accurately described in TFA as a Personal Flight Recorder. As a (recreational) pilot I can imagine a number of situations where it would be useful to be able to record basic flight data such as altitidue, speed, ground track etc. to look at after a flight.
    Another thing is that most small airplanes with propeller engines crash at much lower speeds, leaving the plane a lot more intact than the crashes we see on the news. The ipod would therefor have a much bigger chance of surviving a crash.

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