Smart iPad pilots always fly with backup power options. After all, running out of battery is the most likely way for your tablet to let you down. While tens of thousands of pilots rely on cigarette lighter chargers or battery packs, these aren’t perfect. In particular, many cigarette lighters in older airplanes were never designed for the abuse they take now. Instead of lighting a cigar for a passenger, they are being asked to charge iPads, iPhones, Stratus ADS-B receivers and so much more.
For aircraft owners looking for a more permanent solution, there are some great options now available. Mid-Continent Instruments, a respected manufacturer of avionics, has a variety of dual USB charging devices that can be permanently installed to provide full-time access to power for portable devices.
Their True Blue Power plugs are compact units that can be mounted almost anywhere in an airplane: in the panel, next to passenger seats, or even behind the panel. We’ve seen some airplanes with 5 or 6 installed throughout the cabin. Each one features two 2.1 amp USB ports, so they can easily charge two iPads or an iPad and Stratus at the same time. They are also lighted, so it’s easy to find the plug at night or on an early morning departure.
Compared to that old cigarette lighter, True Blue Power products should inspire confidence, with short-circuit, over-curent and over-temperature protection. They are made in the USA and come with a two-year warranty.
Installation will require an A&P or avionics shop, but it’s a quick job. Measuring just 1.5″ square and less than 1″ deep, and weighing only 2.2 ounces, the Dual USB Charging Port can fit in even the tightest cockpits. Major panel work is not required. They’re also completely legal, meeting FAA TSO C71 and EASA ETSO C71, so there are no gray areas to worry about.
The True Blue Power plug is available in two wiring options, depending on where owners plan to install it: one with a rear power input and one with a bottom power input. Both provide the same power, are the same size and cost $379.95
There’s also an ingenious model that incorporates a clock, and fits in a standard 2 1/4″ avionics panel cutout. It’s a modern replacement for old clocks or timers that may not work anymore, and features a bright LED face with 12-hour, 24-hour, timer and stopwatch modes.
It includes an 8-year internal battery so the clock never loses time, even with the battery master off. Like the True Blue Power plugs, the MD93 has two 2.1 amp charging ports and is TSO certified. It is available for $549.95.