Posted on: 23 October 2013 by Mark Howells
ARINC Direct is in bullish form about prospects for its new small portable Iridium-powered onboard communications device – ARINC Direct Xplore.
The system uses Apple’s iPad as the control/display unit for cockpit and cabin data services. It is a small box that users will carry onto the aircraft, and therefore requires no avionics installation. It has to be attached to power and to an external dual Iridium/GPS antenna to enable communication with Iridium satellites.
The system it communicates with are both the cockpit and the cabin, using Acars-type communications for the pilots and instant messaging/texting, email and one-way air-to-ground voice calling for passengers.
In the cockpit side, Xplore allows the iPad to act as a control/display unit for the company’s Acars services. Pilots can see the services on the iPad’s large-screen.
Xplore can also be used to make voice calls from the ground to the air via voice over IP (VOIP) phone calls. Passengers can use their smartphones to connect to Xplore, which then directs the call to the ground on an Iridium voice channel. They can also use the system to send text messages.
Originally slated for shipping earlier this year, Xplore is now targeted for certification May 1 2014, the company hopes.
Jeff Johnson, senior programme director says, “We plan to be taking orders at EBACE.”
One of the issues has been the complexity of getting certification for each of the many parts. Systems engineer Shimon Y Weichbrod explains, “Even though the device is a carry on, we want to pursue the more stringent process of getting it STC’d, which will please our customers more.”
The company is now pursuing FAA Parts Manufacturing Approval for the device.
Liz Moscrop, Inflight / Inflight-Online.com
Las Vegas, USA