Gadgets like iPad are not limited to entertainment and web browsing. Every now and then, we come across how these gadgets can be integrated with other systems to take their functionality to the next level. This time it’s Aspen Avionics that has come with Connected Panel, installed with an iPad, that would allow pilots to control flight systems. Aspen Avionics is known for designing affordable and easy to install products that can be integrated to cockpits and thereby, reduce the pilot workload. This would include tracking flight plans and tuning to different radio frequencies. iPad has been used previously for flight-related record keeping, but this is the first time it will be used to control flight system itself.
Connected Panel consists of Aspen Avionics CG100 box, which is installed behind the plane’s panel. While it sports other hardware such as USB port and flash memory, it is connected to iPad via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Once connected iPad is used to control on-board systems of the plane. Connected Pilot, as it is called works with the help of Aircraft Manager app by AvConnect. The app downloads flight hours and the aircraft performance data. It will also support various GPS navigators and share data through them. Connected Panel will also be designed to work along with mobile devices based on the android platform.
Connected Pilot is expected to release by the end of 2011 at a price for less than $2,500. Previously, dedicated aviation handheld devices were used for the same functionality that costs in thousands of dollars. Aspen Avionics has entered into partnership with other aviation companies to release applications based on Connected Panel, which include Avidyne, Jeppesen, JP Instruments, Parrot, Pinnacle Aerospace and others. The company intends to create an open environment and have partners who are willing to develop applications. It is initially intended only for single or twin engine propeller planes and helicopters, though, eventually it will be available for commercial planes too.