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Wi-Fi Shown To Interfere With Aircraft Systems

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the nobody-tell-the-tsa dept.

Transportation 300

lukehopewell1 writes "It's official: using Wi-Fi on a plane can interfere with a pilot's navigational equipment, according to airline equipment manufacturers Honeywell Avionics and Boeing today. Boeing confirmed to ZDNet Australia that the issue does exist, but said it has not delivered any planes suffering the fault. 'Blanking of the Phase 3 Display Units has been reported during airline EMI (electromagnetic interference) certification testing of wireless broadband systems on various Next-Generation 737 aeroplanes,' Boeing said."

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FAIL (3, Informative)

diskofish (1037768) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442344)

The navigational equipment should be designed so it is tolerant of this sort of interference.

Re:FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442402)

Low bid isn't always best. Next, we'll hear the military has the same issues.

Re:FAIL (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442516)

FCC part 15:

"This device complies with Part 15 of the FCC rules. Operation is subject to the following two conditions: (1) this device may not cause harmful interference, and (2) this device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation."

So you can't get certified in that case, I think, if you make the device tolerant of interference.

Re:FAIL (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442624)

My understanding(admittely layman's) is that not all devices are Part 15 devices. Part 15 is basically the "Go ahead and use the shitty parts of the spectrum, or have a less than totally RF-tight case; but don't fuck it up for any of the real people" license.

I'm guessing that aircraft systems may well be held to stricter standards in terms of rejecting interference; but may or may not be required to accept any interference received.

Re:FAIL (5, Informative)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442522)

Go learn about RF. At the frequencies used by Wi-Fi a resonant antenna is only a few CMs long, ie about the length of common circuit traces on the PCB's. Even if you completely shield the control units RF can still leak inside through cabling. There is no magic way to design electronics that are RF immune*, it requires real world testing to discover such faults, as happened here.

The only way to make extremely RF tolerant electronics is to use analog vacuum tube based designs (the Russians continued using tube designs into the 90's).

* Making bug free software is significantly easier.

Re:FAIL (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442568)

Shut up. This is obviously the fault of the big corporations and their incompetancies, which us enlightened slashdotters have none of.

Re:FAIL (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442684)

It is pretty dubiously practical; but you can carry power over fiber(bright light on one end, photocell on the other). Both the max power per strand and the efficiency kind of suck; but that does allow you to(for low power systems about which you are rather paranoid) build a completely optocoupled device...

Rarely practical(and obviously wholly unhelpful for things like radar and radio communications gear, which explicitly rely on collecting RF); but the only thing stopping you is good sense...

Re:FAIL (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442994)

you can carry power over fiber(bright light on one end, photocell on the other). Both the max power per strand and the efficiency kind of suck; but that does allow you to(for low power systems about which you are rather paranoid) build a completely optocoupled device...

Please provide supporting evidence for your claim. I am working in a defense industry and would love to transfer a significant amount of power over fiber. Also, Power-over-Ethernet would be very useful if implemented for fiber media, but I have not heard of any such effort.

To my knowledge, the efficiency of an optically-powered system is far too low to power nontrivial electronics in the 30-100 W range. Photocell efficiencies are very bad (4%? 10% maybe?) compared to the 80-90% efficiency you need for a practical system.

Re:FAIL (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443072)

You are entirely correct when you say that optically powered systems are unequal to the task of powering anything serious. We are talking under 2 watts/strand here. Nice if you want to put an electrically powered sensor right in the middle of 'if-it-sparks-here-everybody-will-die-horribly-ville'; but you'd be looking at a real tentacle of a cable if you wanted to move serious energy.

For low power, though, it's an off-the-shelf item [jdsu.com] ...

Re:FAIL (5, Informative)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442764)

Most electronic designers are competent enough to put a choke at their power line and a bandpass filter at their cabling. It's not "easy" but it's done in just about any military grade electronics. I guess Boeing engineers didn't think it was necessary.

Re:FAIL (4, Informative)

crakbone (860662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442846)

Some of these planes and designs are well over 30 years old. I doubt they thought back then that people would each have three or four mobile transmitters let alone the idea of putting in a big transmitter inside the cabin to coordinate a bunch of little ones.

Re:FAIL (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443096)

Some of these planes and designs are well over 30 years old.

The 737 Next Generation is 15 years old.

Re:FAIL (2)

Pingmaster (1049548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442908)

A resonant antenna can be found in PCB traces that are the right length, yes. These traces are usually shielded to the nines, so that stray signal does not get in. Transmission cable is also shielded to prevent extra noise coming in (there's enough of it at the antenna already). Non-shielded cabling (i.e. power) is usually protected from the sensitive stuff by means of an inductor (often called an RF choke) to block off as much of that extra noise as possible. On top of that, Antennas can be designed with a small narrow bandwidth amplifier to give the signal a boost as it enters the system, and also reduces the incoming signal bandwidth to that of the preamp, cutting out more noise. The way I see it, if they're getting enough interference from a standard strength wi-fi signal to bork the system, they have some major design flaws to work out.

Re:FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443274)

No, it's perfectly possible to perform proper design and shielding such that a display NEVER blanks when in the presence of a Wi-Fi device.

Really, the article is short on details. There's a comment that the "EMI levels from actual wi-fi devices" wouldn't cause a problem.

It sounds like they found an EMI hole in the unit within the 2.4 GHz band - likely well above WiFi levels, but there is sufficient paranoia/concern that if there is any EMI hole in that band below whatever the established standard is for civilian aircraft equipment (I forget if RTCA DO-160 has any EMI specifications - I'm always working with MIL-STD-461C or later), even low-power transmitters are to be disabled even if they are well below the trigger threshold.

As a point of reference, depending on the specific service customer (Army, Navy, and Air Force have somewhat different thresholds), MIL-STD-461E specifies that a device is able to handle either 20 volts/meter or 200 volts/meter in radiated susceptibility tests. There are also conducted susceptibility tests, but with wifi devices, 461E's RS103 is likely where you'll fail. (But RS103 thresholds are WAY above what any FCC-compliant WiFi device could possible generate.)

I'd be shocked if they actually encountered interference from a plain old WiFi device - An EMI hole that bad in a display would most likely result in the system getting grounded immediately. It would also be best considered to be an EPIC FAIL.

Re:FAIL (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442584)

My guess is that you are not an EE.
But you don't have to be to understand it in simple terms. navigation systems work in large part by picking up relatively weak RF signals. It isn't easy to do that when you have a bunch of RF transmitters sitting next to it.
Kind of like trying to listen to someone wispier in a rave.

Re:FAIL (0)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442780)

My guess is you're not an EE either. Interference doesn't quite work like that; orthogonal frequencies, for instance, do not interfere at all even when one is extremely high-powered.

Re:FAIL (3, Informative)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443084)

I guess you're not an EE either, then, because no communication system uses pure, unmodulated frequencies. And anyway, if that extremely high-powered signal is lower in frequency than the other one there's every chance it will contain harmonics that are not necessarily orthogonal to the other signal.

Re:FAIL (2)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443140)

"Orthogonal frequencies...do not interfere at all even when one is extremely high-powered"

Frequencies aren't orthogonal (they're scalars), signals are. If you don't control both signals, you can't control orthogonality. One must also consider the dynamic range of the front end - if overloaded with a high powered signal, the frequency relationship doesn't matter. That calls for good bandpass and roofing filter design.

Re:FAIL (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443186)

There is a definition of orthogonality for frequencies -- read up on Fourier analysis.

Re:FAIL (2)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443178)

My guess is you're not an EE either. Interference doesn't quite work like that; orthogonal frequencies, for instance, do not interfere at all even when one is extremely high-powered.

And I'm guessing that you aren't an RF engineer.

It is extremely difficult (and nearly impossible, at a reasonable cost) to design and build a transmitter that only radiates RF on the fundamental frequency. It invariably radiates on harmonic frequencies (integer multiples of the fundamental). FCC regulations limit the acceptable power level for harmonics, but if the transmitter's primary power output is high enough, the harmonics can still interfere with a nearby receiver -- depending on the local strength of the intended signal.

In addition, there is the potential of "intermodulation", or mixing of two transmitted signals to produce a third signal that is a different frequency than either of the originals.

[Disclaimer: I'm not an RF engineer, either. But, this was basic knowledge required for an amateur radio license in the US, at least back when I got mine]

Re:FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442972)

That would be true... If the navigational radios were operating near the same frequencies as Wifi (2.4, 5.8 Ghz) which IMO would be a massive design flaw for any mission critical system.

Re:FAIL (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443314)

Yeah, but this isn't a navigation system itself, it's a display unit. I agree that nav systems such as VOR/ILS, TACAN, etc. are very interference-susceptible, which is the reason for "all electronic devices off during takeoff/landing" - but that's not actually the case here.

Re:FAIL (2)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442758)

The navigational equipment should be designed so it is tolerant of this sort of interference.

Perhaps it will be going forward. However the average age [bts.gov] of an aircraft you fly in today is probably in the neighborhood of 11 to 12 years old. Which means the designs for these planes are even older. Since WiFi wasn't very common (if it was at the consumer level in some cases)when the current planes were designed, it's a little silly to state the current fleet should be designed to be tolerant of it.

Maybe it will be possible to retrofit active designs in the future, but I'd guess the cost involved will be extremely prohibitive. I'd also guess even if they could retrofit all current aircraft, the testing that would be required before doing so would take years.

West Wing (2)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442346)

The West Wing had a quote from Toby Ziegler that essentially sums up how I feel about this:

Toby Ziegler: "We're flying in a Lockheed Eagle series L1011. It came off the line 20 months ago. It carries a Sim-5 Transponder tracking system. Are you telling me I can still flummox this thing with something I bought at Radio Shack?"

Re:West Wing (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442700)

That phrase has always bugged me, since the L1011 ended production in 1984 and The West Wing didn't start airing until 15 years later ... come on, get the time lines correct! Other than that, brilliant series and very sad to see it go :(

Not something to be proud of (5, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442818)

I can make a Tesla coil out of $50 of junk surplus parts and destroy a roomful of the highest end electronic equipment in the world. Hell, a simple spark gap in the right place can cause a world of hurt.

RF energy doesn't give a fuck where you bought something.

You cannot fully shield a device that is specifically designed to receive external signals. In aerospace there's guys who do nothing but electromagnetic compatibility engineering, and not all the threats are external. Sometimes the third side lobe of your strike radar reflects off a rib in the fuselage and the seventh harmonic frequency takes out your very sensitive radar altimeter during initial power up tests.

Epic Fail (1, Insightful)

raymansean (1115689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442376)

How in the world are new devices developed and approved for production that ignore the possibility of EMI from portable devices? There are no excuses for such negligence.

Re:Epic Fail (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442436)

Obviously. The Phase 3 DUs are flawwed. [flightglobal.com]

On a Boeing Business Jet fitted with in-flight connectivity, for instance, there is a note in the log book that says Phase 3 DUs are not to be installed, but that "version 4 is fine and version 2 is fine", says a source.

Wi-Fi is probably one of MANY things that can interfere with flawwed, improperly shielded electronics.

Just an FYI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442862)

There's only one "w" in "flawed". There are no English words that contain "ww".

Re:Just an FYI (3, Funny)

Buggz (1187173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442922)

There are no English words that contain "ww".

Aww. :(

Re:Just an FYI (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443098)

Really? grep ww /usr/share/dict/words has 87, a good portion of which appear to be unquestionably real words.

Re:Epic Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442458)

Put another way: How in the world are new devices developed and approved that ignore the possibility of EMI on large, expensive infrastructure? There are no....

Re:Epic Fail (1)

TheOldFart (578597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442490)

Maybe they used a 1kWatt wifi transmitter right next to the equipment being tested... Like when they test mice for radiation tests using 10^6 times the amount one would reasonably be exposed to...

Re:Epic Fail (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442500)

How in the world are new devices developed and approved for production that ignore the possibility of EMI from portable devices? There are no excuses for such negligence.

Having worked in the airline industry for a while ... these things take years to work their way through because there's so much regulation around it.

Order a plane now, and it will take a couple of years to get your new plane. That plane and the components it uses have been through an exceedingly long design cycle in order to get all of the components working as they need to.

In this case, I suspect it's a combination of the fact that it would probably take some number of years to design, test, and get approved new devices ... and the fact that since such things have been disallowed on aircraft for a long time, they continue to assume they will be disallowed. They also design these things for 20+ year lifespans, so they have different design goals than making sure you get to have wi-fi.

Why is it so hard to understand that something as complex as an aircraft has a very long engineering cycle? Are you under the impression that making an airplane is a simple task?

Hell, the Space Shuttles run/ran on computers that we'd mostly laugh at nowadays. I bet some medical devices don't do so well in the presence of such things either.

Re:Epic Fail (1)

raymansean (1115689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442574)

I do not expect to use any electronics that transmit or receive radio data on a flight. However, as an engineer I do expect that someone will forget to turn off the radio on their device. Thus if I was designing flight control hardware, I would want to ensure that my equipment would not be adversely affected by someone who forgot to turn off their device(s).

Re:Epic Fail (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443202)

It's not only forgetting that is a problem. I discovered on a recent flight that my phone will power itself back on to alert me of an appointment.

Re:Epic Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443142)

If there is a 20 year design cycle, then even at 1991 there should be an expectation that there might be a radio source that your electronics have to deal with - and it might not be accidental, but deliberate and malicious since terrorist threats such as Lockerby bomber had already happened and were much discussed back then.

If planes designed 20 years ago would crash due to deliberate wireless interference, then this is epic fail of those designers.

Re:Epic Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442536)

And now the planet knows that you need only a portable router with a beefed up output to bring one down.

Re:Epic Fail (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442734)

Given the relatively stringent standards for commercial pilots(who are likely the bulk of 737 fliers, along with a few uber-wealthy VIPs who have a personal motivation to hire good pilots, these aren't your single-engine hobbyist-killers here), "bring one down" is almost certainly a severe overstatement.

Seriously inconvenience? Quite possibly. Fuck with the relatively tight timeslot scheduling of the nation's busier airports, causing millions in inconvenience? Conceivable. Cause the plane to automagically fall out of the sky the moment that the pilots have to break out the map and stop staring at the screen? Pretty unlikely...

Re:Epic Fail (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442826)

Since the report shows that the flaw was detected in testing, they are not doing so. No doubt they were designed not to be susceptible, but being human the design did not achieved that goal. Rather then assuming that they were designed right, they were testing them - which necessarily requires production units to test. And the test showed a flaw, and they are not rolling out the systems because of the flaw.

This is the system working properly. Proper testing before aircraft delivery has shown a problem, and steps are being taken to rectify the problem. The short term fix is to outlaw WiFi; when they have found and tested a proper fix, they may (assuming tests are passed) then enable the equipment.

There is no point in getting alarmed when the proper test show the faults before the aircraft leave the ground.

Seriously? (2)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442412)

So they're saying that terrorists could bring down planes just by texting each other furiously?

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442532)

So they're saying that terrorists could bring down planes just by texting each other furiously?

New No-Fly lists will include anyone who has registered and competed in the LG U.S. National Texting Championship.

Re:Seriously? (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443264)

No. They're saying that terrorists could be a pain in the butt just by texting each other furiously. No surprise there. Loss of navigation systems does not bring a plane down.

If this was really a problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442420)

If interference from mobile phones and wifi was really an issue for aircraft they would be dropping out of the sky every day.

Re:If this was really a problem... (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443278)

As I and others keep saying, interference with navigation systems does not make planes drop out of the sky.

End result (1)

Buggz (1187173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442422)

And instead of the navigational equipment being built to tolerate wifi interference, we can soon look forward to turning in our terrorist cell phones at the security check, right before "the anonymous machine" checks your prostate. Because we live in a free country!

Re:End result (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443268)

Flying is a service you purchase from a private entity, not a human right. Dont like the security (and personally, I think its retarded and ineffective)? Get your own cessna, or dont fly.

"Blanking" (2)

quacking duck (607555) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442428)

I can't imagine a wireless signal interfering with a hardwired display this badly, so is this more an issue with wifi interfering with various sensors that feed the display, causing the system to momentarily "blank" the screen rather than present spurious and inaccurate data?

(Yes I did RTFA)

Re:"Blanking" (2)

dunezone (899268) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442782)

So basically they didn't shield the components properly? Or they didn't take into account that Wifi is now offered as a service on planes so older designs were not updated?

I like the photo in the article of the plane crash from LOST. Nothing bad has happened so far because of this but lets show a crashed plane anyway.

Re:"Blanking" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442828)

I read the recap of TFA over at CNET (no flames please) and the writer was quick to point out that this was during testing at power levels way beyond the operating envelope. Honeywell is researching a fix as we type.

How can this be allowed? (1, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442430)

Any plane with such crappy EM shielding is a scary thing and shouldn't be in the air with or near people.

Re:How can this be allowed? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442572)

Any plane with that much EM shielding is an expensive over engineered thing and shouldn't be in the air with or near people with the extra amount of fuel required, extra parts to service, and extra fatigue hauling that extra special-case crap around.

We still have pilots and flight attendants due to their good EM resistance, and QC to catch the electronics that amplify the wrong singal.

Re:How can this be allowed? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443204)

True shielding can be applied; however, the cost is weight and money. For aircraft, weight is the more important factor. Plus shielding is not always simple. I only know of two planes that have undergone the effort; the twin 747s that serve as Air Force One. I think they had to strip the planes done to the frame and methodically shield everything. I think it took 18 months or something like that.

Ancient technology ignored... (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442440)

I guess the idea of a grounded Faraday cage around each piece of equipment escapes them?

Re:Ancient technology ignored... (2)

jiteo (964572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442548)

Grounded? It's on a goddamn airplane.

Re:Ancient technology ignored... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442594)

Grounded? It's on a goddamn airplane.

So? Why should reality get in the way of Slashdotters claiming to have a "simple" fix so they can run their wi-fi and text people wherever they want?

Because, obviously, the input of random geeks on Slashdot is far more informed than the people who actually make these things and have to build them.

Re:Ancient technology ignored... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442866)

Oh, c'mon. The antics of the Slashdot Brain Trust are priceless.

Re:Ancient technology ignored... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442712)

Considering the amount of equipment on an aircraft, do you have any idea how much weight that would add to the MWZF?

Re:Ancient technology ignored... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442848)

Plus the weight of a really long grounding wire.

Re:Ancient technology ignored... (1)

umrguy76 (114837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443136)

I guess the idea of a grounded Faraday cage around each piece of equipment escapes them?

That's going to make receiving navigation signals rather difficult...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_navigation [wikipedia.org]

Honeywell screws us all (1)

ktappe (747125) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442448)

As everyone has said so far, this is a serious fail on the part of Honeywell for not accounting for WiFi in their engineering & testing process. But you can be darned sure this incident will be quoted for the next couple of decades by defenders of "you must keep your devices off when on board" policies. So thanks, Honeywell, for being the instrument of keeping us in the dark ages aboard aircraft.

Re:Honeywell screws us all (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442514)

Let us be sure to publicize this fact every time the subject comes up so that Honeywell's name is eventually equated with the Honey Bucket Man. Not shielding electronics used in airplanes is incompetence at best.

Re:Honeywell screws us all (1)

vawwyakr (1992390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442742)

Agreed I'll have to listen to the witless repeating this BS scenario will bring the plane down. Gee hope we don't get hit by a mild solar storm while we're flying because if my phone can bring the plane crashing down then I think the sun will be able to do a much better job.

So if I leave wifi on? (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442498)

So if I open up my laptop and start using it, it starts seeking wifi signals. Is this enough to interfere with the plane?

'cause I don't ever hear flight attendants telling people to disable their wifi (or bluetooth, etc.). Just to "turn off" cell phones. Which itself is weird, 'cause I can leave mine on and put it in airplane mode, right?

Re:So if I leave wifi on? (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442618)

'cause I don't ever hear flight attendants telling people to disable their wifi (or bluetooth, etc.). Just to "turn off" cell phones. Which itself is weird, 'cause I can leave mine on and put it in airplane mode, right?

Every time I fly I hear the flight attendants tell us to power down the device completely, they usually specify that airplane mode is not ok. I've always assumed this was because they have no way if knowing of anyone actually put the thing into airplane mode or not.

Of course I don't know that that has anything to do with wireless transmission interference. They might just do it to make sure people aren't distracted by their electronic gadgets and actually listen the safety briefing.

Re:So if I leave wifi on? (1)

ktappe (747125) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442670)

Every time I fly I hear the flight attendants tell us to power down the device completely, they usually specify that airplane mode is not ok. I've always assumed this was because they have no way if knowing of anyone actually put the thing into airplane mode or not.

I fly frequently on various airlines and have never heard "Airplane mode is not OK" or even any reference to "Airplane mode" at all. What airline do you fly?

Re:So if I leave wifi on? (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442810)

Flying from Heathrow to Johannesburg on British Airways, the stewardess explicitly said Flight Mode was not acceptable("turn the device off even if the device has a flight mode"), the device had to be off. Flying back from Johannesburg to Amsterdam on KLM, the stewardess explicitly said Flight Mode was acceptable ("turn the device off or put it into flight mode"). The outbound flight was on a 747-400 and the flight back was on a 777-200.

Re:So if I leave wifi on? (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442838)

Southwest. Maybe twice a year. Usually out of Logan (Boston, MA, United States).

Re:So if I leave wifi on? (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442864)

Actually my experience (in Europe) is that during start/landing, all electronic gadgets are disallowed, even MP3 players. Once in the sky, only active transmitters are disallowed.

Re:So if I leave wifi on? (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443176)

More likely it has to do with other passengers believing a rogue cellphone might crash the plane and may complain to the flight attendant if they see another passenger using a cellphone. The other passenger has no idea if airplane mode is in use.

Rather than risking a headache of explanation or calming down snippy passengers, it's easier for the attendant to just tell everyone to turn them all off. They don't really stand to gain anything by splitting hairs over with someone over what's ok and what's not ok.

Radar about to be "jammed" (2)

Mr. Maestro (876173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442506)

"Raspberry. There's only one man who would dare give me the raspberry: Lone Star!"

This is a non-story (5, Informative)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442540)

Not only is it for one specific module, its only at elevated power levels, not typical power levels. Lets watch the corporate media fuck this up and turn into a scare tactic to show more ads to morons.

Boeing, meanwhile, says: "Current testing by Boeing and Honeywell has determined that blanking may occur when a DU is subjected to testing procedures specified by the FAA requirements (AC-20-164) during installations of Wi-Fi systems on the airplane. Based on testing that has been conducted, Boeing and Honeywell have concluded that actual EMI levels experienced during normal operation of typical passenger Wi-Fi systems would not cause any blanking of the Phase 3 DU. This issue does not exist with the Phase 1 or 2 DU's."
Honeywell says that, during recent ground testing "at elevated power levels", the company observed a momentary blanking on the 'flat panel' liquid crystal displays that it developed and pioneered for Boeing.
"The screens reappeared well within Boeing's specified recovery time frame. The screens have not blanked in flight and are not a safety of flight issue. Honeywell is working to ensure the problem is addressed and fixed and that our technology will continue to exceed specifications," says Honeywell.

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2011/03/10/354179/wi-fi-interference-with-honeywell-avionics-prompts-boeing.html

Re:This is a non-story (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442566)

Wow. That earns a big FU for the editors.

Thanks for the information.

Re:This is a non-story (5, Insightful)

vawwyakr (1992390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442692)

This is just another example of how (inexplicably to me at least) companies want to continue fear based rules that just don't make sense. It's like the whole "don't use your cell phone near the gas pump" BS that they tried to spread for a long time. Even when tests and common sense says there's no way a cell phone would cause a spark that would ignite gas fumes unless some catastrophic (and extremely rare) occurred.

Re:This is a non-story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442894)

So you are admitting it can occur (even if it is a remote probability), would you take any responsibility in the case it would occur?
Just standard corporate ass covering in the good old US of A

Re:This is a non-story (1)

guanxi (216397) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442798)

the corporate media

Why pick on them, and not the bloggers and commenters?

Re:This is a non-story (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442836)

Because there's a profit incentive in outrage and fear. I'm curious to see if CNN can outcrazy Fox on "ZOMG WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE ON A PLANE BECAUSE OF LAPTOPS!!"

I see bloggers as a much lesser evil and they typically have comments sections in which they can be corrected - like I just did to slashdot.

Oh well (1)

bazmail (764941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442552)

Time for Honeywell Avionics and Boeing to produce an enormously expensive piece of equipment that "fixes" this. Certification forcing all planes to carry it would be a bonus.

Ok gents, quick as you can now...

Re:Oh well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443028)

I see you have worked for Honeywell as well
The way they work would be funny if it wasn't so sad....

creators; death acceptable by natural cause only, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442588)

mainly old age. are they pushy or what? looks like that's it for now? see you at the play-dates?

the problem: an airplane is a metal aluminum tube (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442592)

they need to build airplanes out of brick, or concrete

Re:the problem: an airplane is a metal aluminum tu (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442688)

Well when the engines turn off, they effectively fly like they're made out of either.

Re:the problem: an airplane is a metal aluminum tu (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442796)

i made a dumb joke, but heck, if they can build boats out of concrete

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_ship [wikipedia.org]

i therefore desire some insane mofo to try to build an airplane out of concrete

Re:the problem: an airplane is a metal aluminum tu (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443296)

On the thought of making planes out of something strong and non-metal, I wonder what the feasibility of carbon fiber (and carbon nano-tubes?) is. I admit I know nothing about these materials besides their press-release descriptions.

Re:the problem: an airplane is a metal aluminum tu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443310)

an airplane is a metal aluminum tube

As opposed to a paper aluminum tube?

Time to go back to IR and Visible light. (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442626)

Hey didn't we see something about a network that works in the optical spectrum not to long ago. Seems like a good idea on an airliner.

What sort of equipment is this? (5, Informative)

vawwyakr (1992390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442628)

So the company just admitted that their (likely expensive) aviation equipment (displays?) are more error prone from EMI than say....my desktop pc...phone...digital watch? What sort of equipment are these people working with? Consumer electronics are bombarded by this sort of EMI constantly and I don't see any displays blanking in my office. In an airplane I would have assumed they would have to have MORE shielding because at altitude they have less shield from solar radiation which is well known for being harmful to electronics where my wifi adapter hasn't fried a single piece of electronics...yet. This still sounds like total BS to me.

Re:What sort of equipment is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442792)

The blanking is probably a 'reset' of the computer. The computer probably detected something wrong and reset itself.

They found it and are fixing it. So the system is working. This article seems to be more scare mongering than anything. Also my computer 'blanks' all the time. But I do not notice it as it happens so much. Especially if it is switch resolutions, or crashing, or ... They noticed it because that screen is probably a single status screen and should not change. Probably a 'whoa what was that' moment.

http://mobile.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2031258&cid=35442540 this has a nice link that describes what is really going on.

New Expensive WI-FI coming soon? (1)

mattwrock (1630159) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442660)

Boeing is probably working on a "new" WI-FI system. It isn't different than the current system, but the airlines can charge a premium price for it.

Tempest in a teapot... (3, Funny)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442674)

I dunno. This seems like something with a terribly simple fix...

        JUST DON'T USE WIFI.

If you want networking in an aircraft, do it with wired Ethernet.

Of course this screws over all of the most hyped devices but that's life sometimes.

[Nelson] Ha Ha! [/Nelson]

Jeez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442714)

Talk about Pwn2Own!

Completely inaccurate headline (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442868)

Headline should read, Poorly Designed Aviation equipment Suffer interference From WIFI, with the body reading, "...when WIFI transmits at levels far in excess of consumer equipment."

There isn't a story here.

Phone use in airplanes has always been about economics and excessive use of scarce ground resources.

More importantly (1)

maweki (999634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442932)

If Wi-fi interferes with the board systems, doesn't this (more importantly) mean, that the board systems interfere with the wi-fi? What am I supposed to do during a long flight? Angry-Birds instead of CounterStrike? I don't think so.

So how much excess transmitter power? (1)

AbrasiveCat (999190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442982)

I wonder if it took a 1 or 2 kw WiFi transmitter to cause this problem? More likely 1 or 2 watts, but the link did say existing legal power did not cause an issue. Then I wonder how far the transmitter was from the display unit? Maybe this just mean the air crew should not use over powered WiFi devices while playing video games in the cockpit?

Next on TSA theatre! (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442988)

TSA to search your pockets and confiscate any electrical devices.

FUD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443050)

I wonder how much of this are the OEMS making the case that only their proprietary/exorbitant in-flight wifi solutions are safe enough to install.

Terrorist EE Applications are rising (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443064)

In other news, university officials have noticed a sharp increase in the number of terrorists applying for admission to EE degree programs. Until now, terrorists have traditionally favored chemistry and chemical engineering programs. Chem E applications have dropped sharply.

Chem E prof: "I really don't understand it. We still have a great program, Although it was strange: all that these students seemed interested in, were exothermic reactions.

EE prof: "I really don't understand it. Who would study EE, when the country you come from doesn't even have electricity? Although it is strange: all these students seem interested in, is building high power transmitters at frequencies where such power is not allowed by the FCC. Maybe they don't have an FCC where they come from?

Sounds more like a design flaw (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443154)

This really sounds like a failed design where blame should go to Boeing rather than the IEEE standard.

Didn't mythbusters address this once? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443180)

And didn't they conclude that portable consumer devices that are operating within normal parameters could not interfere with the plane or its operation?

Does this mean that the Mythbusters were wrong?

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