Airplane iPod use is cool, but it's no black box

LoPresti makes iPod into a nifty pilot data recorder.


There are dozen of companies, cars, boats, gadgets and science projects that now use iPods as data acquisitions systems in place of bulky laptops when all that's needed is basically to write info to a hard drive.

Here's a more interesting one, noticed by Luxist.


The LoPresti Fury is known for a design that combines an old military plane silhouette with a modern sleekness. It is the last plane that renowned aviator and engineer Roy LoPresti designed himself. (He worked on the NASA Lunar Module, among other things.)

Now the Fury will be the first production aircraft, according to LoPresti, that has integrated an iPod for use as both a communications recorder and a digital data recorder.

General Aviation News says that the Fury is not just using the iPod as a communications recorder to record and playback cockpit and radio conversations. It's also a portable flight recorder that can hold up to 500 hours of flight data.


But don't be confused.

This is not the true "black box" cited by the FAA and in the movies, as other blogs have insinuated. The iPod here interfaces with the Fury's current avionics package, recording things like speed, altitude and heading. You won't get data such as what position the rudders or ailerons are in, or if you forgot to lower your landing gear.

Even so, LoPresti's announcement is still very cool, considering how convenient and inexpensive an iPod is compared to other aviation electronics.

About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet,, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.


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