ASiQ, the Australian developers of the patented SafeCell mobile phone system, have come up with an iPad Bluetooth app that it says can overcome problems associated with the use of Wi-Fi in aircraft cockpits. Recently, Wi-Fi made news when it reportedly blanked out the cockpit displays on a Boeing 737NG during testing. This resulted in Boeing suspending Wi-Fi installations. It obviously has become a concern for airline and business aircraft operators wanting to use iPads in the cockpit for crew communications, as part of their use of EFBs.

Ron Chapman, ASiQ's CEO, said “the issue for Wi-Fi is that under certification testing, in order to provide an acceptable safety margin, wireless transmitters are powered up to five times their maximum power. In the case of Wi-Fi, this turns a 1,000-milliwatt transmitter into a 5,000-milliwatt transmitter.

An Intel aircraft safety study on Bluetooth released in 2000 (www.scribd.com/doc/7156308/Aircraft-Safety-Report-for-Bluetooth) describes testing in which Bluetooth was powered up to 500 times its normal power, and at a distance of only 10 cm it was still below the aircraft standards.

“So,” Chapman said, “it is fairly safe to assume that Bluetooth at five times its normal power should not be an issue at all.”

Chapman continued, “It was during the development of our new iPhone app for corporate jets that we realized we could deliver a similar data service on the iPad. What makes it really exciting is that our iPhone Bluetooth proprietary software currently allows up to three Apple devices to communicate simultaneously, which means that both pilots and the head of the cabin crew could all have access. Combine this with our satellite/radio controller and message distribution software, and you now have a very-low-cost mobile solution that airlines can implement for crew data communications”

ASiQ previously announced the release of an Android version of its SafeCell inflight mobile phone for corporate jets.