DAC Receives PMA Approval For iPad EFB Interface

 - May 21, 2013, 2:15 AM
DAC International’s GDC64 taps into aircraft sensors to deliver data to creative new iPad apps.

DAC International has received FAA parts manufacturer approval (PMA) for its GDC64 tablet aircraft interface unit (TAIU). The unit serves two functions: to provide the correct power supply to recharge Apple iPad tablet computers; and to safely connect iPads to aircraft sensors to supply useful data to iPad applications. The GDC64 is hard-wired to the aircraft and doesn’t rely on wireless connectivity.

With four Arinc 429 input ports, eight discrete inputs and a serial connection for weather receivers, the GDC64 could be used for many new capabilities. For example, aircraft position, air data and weather information could be delivered to an iPad to drive synthetic-vision displays and moving maps with weather overlays. This would eliminate the need to carry external wireless devices such as GPS receivers, ADS-B weather receivers, AHRS devices or a portable XM Weather receiver.

So far, the GDC64 has been installed in a Learjet 60 by DAC sister company Atlantic Aero and a Dash 8 by Samco Aircraft Maintenance (with Fokker Services managing the certification). The Dash 8 application is for Norwegian airline Widerøe, which is using the iPad as an EASA-approved Class 2 Type-B electronic flight bag (EFB). Widerøe’s iPad EFB uses Arinc 429 data from the Dash 8, including position, speed and more in an app developed by Dublin-based Flightman.

To encourage the development of more apps that can take advantage of the GDC64’s data hooks into the aircraft, DAC International (Booth 627) offers a software development kit (SDK) and also a free iPad app for setting up and configuring the Arinc 429 data. Avionics and airframe OEMs as well as avionics installers, iPad app developers and software companies are interested in adopting the GDC64 or creating app functionality for the device, according to DAC general manager Francisco Hernandez. A Turkish company purchased a GDC64 and obtained the SDK to develop applications for airlines, he said. “[Maintenance tracking provider] CAMP Systems (Booth 931) has talked to us about an app for their software.”

The GDC64 retails for $7,000 and is designed for most aircraft types, including helicopters and Part 25 jets. DAC International, a Greenwich AeroGroup company, is an Apple-approved MFi licensee, which means that the company can install custom Apple IC chips in the GDC64. These chips, according to DAC, “provide the GDC64 an authorized means of accessing the iPad’s wired USB ports.”

The impetus for designing the GDC64, Hernandez said, is because with many complex aircraft, “you can’t get away with wireless in the cockpit. That’s what brought this on.”