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Bluetooth Audio Options For FlightView

Falken’s FlightView EFIS includes a number of cool audio features including alerts, briefings, checklists, and integrated music control. But how do you get the audio from the iPad to the pilot?

The short answer is: Bluetooth audio. The longer answer depends on what kind of gear you have in your airplane.

Bluetooth Audio Panels

The Cadillac solution is to connect the iPad to a Bluetooth-enabled audio panel. These days there are only two real audio panel vendors in the GA market: PSEngineering and Garmin. Both offer Bluetooth-enabled versions of their products with prices ranging from $1395 – $2195. This is a great option if you already own one of these gadgets, or if you’re building an IFR machine with multiple radios.

PS Engineering PMA7000BT Audio panel

Bluetooth Headsets

The next best option would be a headset with integrated Bluetooth receiver. These are available from multiple vendors at various price points. The fancy models with active noise cancellation generally run around $1k each. Bargain basement passive models can be found for as little at $250. My personal favorite is the CQ Bluetooth Lemo edition in-ear heaset from Card Machine Works (also located here at beautiful 40XS in Cedar Park, Texas). The only down side of this approach is that the iPad audio only goes to the pilot. In many cases this is actually a feature rather than a bug, as most passengers don’t really want to hear Geeves shouting out traffic alerts and reading off checklists.

CQ Bluetooth Heaset

Bluetooth Headset Adapters

If you have a headset you love that doesn’t include Bluetooth you can add it on using one of several in-line adapters. These gadgets go in between the aircraft audio system and the headset and, like the BT headsets, usually run on batteries or USB power. Crazed Pilot offers a $50 adapter that’s basic (one way audio only) but gets the job done. Faro offers a somewhat more capable unit for $150 that adds cell phone calling capabilities and runs on two AA batteries. The rechargeable Pilot USB BlueLink sells for $279 – $285 and lasts 15 – 20 hours according to the manufacturer. As with the BT headsets, the only real disadvantage (other than having to mess with batteries or USB chargers) is that the audio goes to one station only.

Crazed Pilot Bluetooth Audio Interface

Bluetooth Line Level Adapters

A final option, the one that I use in our testbed RV-6, is a simple Bluetooth adapter that connects to one of the audio inputs on an intercom. Even older mono two-place intercoms typically have “music” input that was built to connect to old-school iPods (or possibly ancient-school CD players and Walkman tape players). More recent intercoms have stereo inputs. I like this option because I often fly with other pilots who need to hear the aural annunciations. My wife likes it because we can both listen to music in the airplane. There are many options on the market. I rolled my own using this $3.00 part (plus a 12v – 5v step-down regulator), but there are marine and automotive products in the $20 – $40 range that work just fine.

Again, any of these will work.

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