Within hours of Apple’s new iPad (aka iPad 3), GlobalNavSource announced the third-generation table passed a rapid decompression (RD) test conducted at its Punta Gorda, FL headquarters. The company subjected the iPad to a simulated 51,000′ rapid decompression event compliant with RTCA DO-160G standards for RD testing and certification.
“We are always concerned each time a new iPad is launched,” said GlobalNavSource CEO Jeffrey Ariens. “This is good news for aviation.”
Even though the results speak well for the future of Apple’s new iPad in aviation applications, Wayne Belleau, GlobalNavSource Director of Quality Assurance, cautions operators to take these results with a grain of salt. “While this is good news, it certainly isn’t utopia,” said Bellaeu. “Not all iPads are the same, and not all iPads pass [RD testing].”
Bellaeu points out that the iPad is not developed to the same standards as avionics products, and the manufacturing process is not governed by FAA oversight. While avionics systems developed according mission-critical standards, like RTCA DO-264 “Design Assurance and Guidance for Airborne Electronic Hardware”, that ensure consistency of subcomponents throughout the development, testing and production processes, the iPad is a Consumer Off the Shelf (COTS) product and does not meet the same stringent production standards as avionics.
Apple may only use one part number to designate the latest version of the iPad, but COTS manufacturers may substitute various subcomponents across different production runs. Because of these differences, the testing performed on one iPad may not be representative of all iPads of the same model. Based on GlobalNavSource’s iPad testing experience, Belleau believes: “[There is] no way to determine whether a unit will meet the higher standards for aviation without actual testing.”
GlobalNavSource offers an iPad testing and documentation package that covers both rapid decompression (RD) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) testing that complies with RTCA DO-160G test standards starting at $200 per unit.