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New iPhone 5 Connector Makes Problems for Aircraft Owners

Sep 21, 2012

The world is abuzz with the launch of Apple’s iPhone 5. But for companies that manufacture aircraft iPhone accessories, the two most challenging changes are the new “Lightning” connector and the new, taller form-factor of the phone. Aircraft owners will have to make sure that existing iPhone accessories will be compatible with the new Apple devices and adapters.


Click for larger infographic.

About the new Lightning Connector from Apple
Lightning is a new all digital, eight-signal connector used on the new iPhone 5, fifth generation iPod Touch and seventh generation iPod Nano. Like the old 30-pin connector, the Lightning port can be used for various functions, including charging the iPod or iPhone, syncing data and outputting audio to another device.

Lightning is considered an improvement because it is thinner, thus allowing new devices to be less bulky. With the iPhone 5, it allows Apple to include larger speakers for more volume output. The Lightning connector is also far more durable than the previous connector, which was often damaged when users would inadvertently plug it in backwards. Lightning is reversible, meaning there is little chance that the plug will be damaged when connecting it to the device.


Apple Lightning Adapter

Adapters from Apple
Adapters start at $19 for the Lightning to USB Cable, $29 for the Lightning adapter and $39 for the Lightning-to-30-pin connector cable. The adapters won't necessarily support all functions, particularly iPod out and video out. The new adapters only support analog audio output, USB audio, syncing and charging. Lightning-to-VGA and Lightning-to-HDMI cables will be available later, but for now, users won’t be able to connect the iPhone or iPod to an external display or TV to view videos or photos using the adapters.

Honeywell Media Holder Rockwell Collins iPod Dock Flight Display Systems iPod Dock

Aircraft iPhone Docking Stations and Cable Adapters from Flight Display Systems
Here’s a rundown of how the new Apple offerings will affect products from Flight Display Systems.

  • iPod and iPhone Docking Station (FDIPD-MD Ver 2) — The new iPhone 5 and iPod Touch are too large to fit in this docking station, with or without the required adapter.
  • iPod and iPhone Cable Adapters (FDMEDPLR-3, FDMEDPLR-3QR) — These products will require the Lightning adapter to work with the iPhone 5 and the fifth generation iPod Touch. According to Apple, the Lightning connecter will not support analog video. Based on currently available information, charging and audio output should still be supported.

Please note that current iPads are not affected, however all new Apple personal entertainment devices will likely use the Lightning connector for the foreseeable future.

Aircraft owners and operators who would like a free white paper on Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod connectivity options should please contact Flight Display Systems for the PDF download link.