Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Britain's CAA Considers Laptop Ban on Commercial Aircraft

chrisd posted more than 12 years ago | from the your-watch-sir-you-have-to-check-that dept.

News 384

hayb writes "An article in Britain's The Register claims that NASA and United Airlines have conducted tests on various aircraft and have found that ultra-wideband (UWB) devices "knocked out" collision-avoidance systems and impaired instrument landing systems. It states that the blanket ban on all devices in necessary because flight crews do not have the knowledge to differentiate between standard notebooks and ones with UWB devices."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Where is britan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187739)

hehehehehhe

first post ? (-1, Offtopic)

CreatorOfSmallTruths (579560) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187741)

what ban , who where?

Re:first post ? (0)

CreatorOfSmallTruths (579560) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187789)

mine is a sad story indeed. I've been neautral until the parent post ( 21 posts so far ). and now - oh dear... my karma went "bad" on me. Have you no respect to old /. traditions? when a ./er sees an empty news he MUST post a "first post"... true enough, the "first post" was what originally introduced the karma regime... but hey, if this was the spark that lit the darkness, who are we to determine it false ? said my peace. if this post will get offtopic I'll stop posting altogether. bye bye for now.

But... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187742)

...if there's a blanket ban on laptops, how else are you supposed to keep warm?

Muslim designed mobo's ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187744)

Nah .. too stupid.

Re:Muslim designed mobo's ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187749)

Yep, when you`re using a PC running millions of algorithms at the same time, its clearly laughable that Muslims could be involved.

Homework for today - look up the origin of the work Algorithm.

Re:Muslim designed mobo's ??? (0, Troll)

khuber (5664) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187786)

Al-Khawarizmi lived in Persia 1200 years ago.

What has Iran done lately?

-Kevin

Re:Muslim designed mobo's ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187800)

What has Iran done lately?

Improved T-Shirt sales during the 80's? O.K, thats 20 years and not exactly "recent", but it's a lot more recent than 1200 years ago!

Re:Muslim designed mobo's ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187801)

They export pistachio nuts! Far better than your lousy imperialistic American peanuts!!

I'm sure.. (0)

Hellraisr (305322) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187745)

that business-people worldwide will be beating their chests like so many banana deprived apes. Bow your head!

A solution? (1)

Lucky Kevin (305138) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187747)

Why can't they just fix the planes? It is much harder to spot someone leaving something on. I sometimes leave my cell phone on on planes, I just forget that it is in my hand luggage.

Re:A solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187755)

You are risking endangering the aircraft and all on it. So turn the dam thing off.

Re:A solution? (2)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187764)

It's not the planes that are broken. The concern is that UWB devices if improperly implemented could cause interference. From the article:

With appropriate technical standards, UWB devices can operate using spectrum occupied by existing radio services without causing interference - at least in theory.

The article also states that UWB devices are unlikely to appear in consumer devices much before 2004, giving plenty of time for appropriate standards to be set to avoid such problems. It's not a big deal.

Re:A solution? (2)

funky womble (518255) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187826)

With appropriate technical standards, UWB devices can operate using spectrum occupied by existing radio services without causing interference - at least in theory.
That depends whether your definition of 'interference' is that it stops something from working, or whether it's that it interferes with it in some way (maybe by raising the noise floor enough that Tx power has to be increased to overcome it).

UWB at the moment seems like it may be more of a way of exploiting patents before they expire, than providing something which is really necessary. There's plenty of ways to fit more into existing spectrum by being smarter (e.g. moving some analogue broadcasts over to digital modulations, use of time-division between operators, and maybe computer-controlled dynamic spectrum allocation) before some technology which works by interfering with *everything* (just to a smaller degree) to squeeze more in is required.

Well that's my 0,02 anyway...(bah, *Britan*, indeed). And I wonder, does laptop use at airports get banned too? And who, carrying a laptop, would want to allow it as hold baggage (if they're allowed in the cabin, you *will* get some idiots try to use them...)

Technology out of date? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187748)

Surely the airlines instrument systems could do with some updating... The military must have systems which do the same job and don't suffer from the crippling effects of laptop and cellphone interference. Or maybe the 'bad guys' will start defending their encampments with laptops in order to confuse the guidance systems on cruise missiles.

Re:Technology out of date? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187759)

How hard is it to shield the bit of the plane that the passengers sit in?

Re:Technology out of date? (0)

sirius_bbr (562544) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187760)

I don't know how effective laptops would be against guided missiles, but I guess it could get prety dangerous when some fanatics smuggle radio-devices on a flight, to upset the flight systems and endanger the plane and the people in it.

Re:Technology out of date? (1)

Memetic (306131) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187798)

Part of the problem is that consumer electronics are designed to meet modern standards to reduce or tolerate emissions.

Many aircraft in service are 15 to 20 years old or atleast designed and built to standards that old.

In the current economic climate for airlines, upgradeing fleets to meet modern standards, let alone to eliminate future risk is just not viable in direct cost or the cost of having aircraft grounded for long periods.

Re:Technology out of date? (1)

corian (34925) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187845)

In the current economic climate for airlines, upgradeing fleets to meet modern standards, let alone to eliminate future risk is just not viable in direct cost or the cost of having aircraft grounded for long periods.

Why? They have to bring them in for maintenance anyways to replace the cockpit doors with something more secure. Why can't they make other fixes at the same time?

Re:Technology out of date? (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187895)

The usual answer to the question "Why?" is: "Money".

New avionics (aviation talk for "fancy stuff the pilots use that doesn't have air flowing over it") are expensive, have to be approved, and can require messy details like replacing wiring and antenna. And if many interference generators are nearby, the present signals may be hidden and might require installing new transmitters at each airport...after a new system is selected and approved.

Re:Technology out of date? (1)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187820)

Most commercial aircraft currently flying were designed decades before laptops and mobile phones. Almost every elecrical system will require testing/redesign, and there are literally millions of them on an large aircraft, and literally miles of wiring. Then you'd have to re-certify the modified design as safe for flight, and that's before you even get to the cost to refit each aircraft, which is probably going to be a significant fraction of the cost of the aircraft.

And of course the airline industry has loads of spare cash at the moment doesn't it... ummm.

Millitary aircraft are likely to be more resistant, but mostly they are still old designs that wouldn't have considered the specific characteristics of laptop/mobile rf from within the aircraft. That said, I reckon I'd be a lot more prepared to use a mobile in a figther jet simply on the basis that you're sat on an ejector seat that definitely doesn't use any fancy fly-by-wire or rf electronics.

On cruise missiles you have to remember that your laptop / mobile is inside the metal tube of the plane, along with the sensitive electronics - if the bad guys could fly up to the missile, open it up, and stick a laptop and cellphone inside it, it probably would confuse the guidance - but if you can get that close to it there are easier ways to knock it out of the sky.

heh, way to go (2)

StandardDeviant (122674) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187751)

Just today I noticed an article somewhere that was talking about the airlines hurting becuase business travel has gone down a good bit since Sept. 11 last year. (Business travelers are apparently the highest margin passenger class becuase they tend to book nicer seats and fly on shorter notices so they're higher up the essentially exponentail cost function correlating time-to-flight-from-ticket-booking and ticket price.) And now they want to eliminate laptop usage... Sure, I bet the suits and shiny shoes crowd will just looooove that.

Not that I care though. If it's good for safety it's beyond question. And honestly, if you don't have your work done by the time you catch the plane to your distant meeting, the chances of you being ready are slim-to-none anyway. Hopefully this might be another wedge in the organizational door being held shut against the wide adoption of telecommuting.

Re:heh, way to go (2)

pacc (163090) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187772)

These are exactly the people that are guaranteed to get a device with WiFi built in because the higher prices includes some "extras" they haven't really had time to explore.

Re:heh, way to go (4, Insightful)

mikeplokta (223052) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187852)

Not that I care though. If it's good for safety it's beyond question.


It's certainly not beyond question just because it's good for safety. Safety at any price is a bad idea. If it costs $1 billion per life saved, you can save a lot more lives by spending the same money on preventive health care.

200 Killed by Tetris (2, Funny)

muzzmac (554127) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187753)

More news at 5.

Re:200 Killed by Tetris (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187810)

If we get close enough to the WTC, maybe we can play blinkenlights [blinkenlights.de] tetris on it...

BRITAN (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187758)

You Amercans really need to learn to spell.

Err, then UWB is at fault (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187761)

The whole point of UWB is that it is spread-spectrum technology.

So, because it is using a huge bandwidth at low power, it is supposed to be able to share it with other narrowband and high-power transmissions.

The point is, though, if it is causing interference with *any* narrowband communications, something is very wrong. Personally, I don't believe that UWB is going to be practical anyway, because it's just increasing the noise-floor, which is fine for a few devices here and there, but once every cell phone in the world has a UWB connection to it's hands-free kit, the noise-floor is going to be really high.

Infact, a good comment would be, 'Imagine a beowulf cluster of those!', because, ironically, they would all interfere with each other, (in the real world - in an ideal world they wouldn't, but do you really believe that manufacturors are going to implement the full specs, etc? No, they will just implement the least possible subsystem, which will be rubbish).

Eeek (5, Insightful)

LBU.Zorro (585180) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187769)

Does anyone else think that it should therefore be possible to create a small handheld device that say looks like a walkman/personal stereo, but contains an UWB transmitter? Activate it in a heavily traveled airspace and create chaos at best...

Rather than just try and ban the devices shouldn't they be working on methods of blocking the signals? Or altering the collision avoidance systems to cope with the interferrance?? Doesn't this smack of really bad shortsightedness?? Even if UWB is several years away, spark-gap transmitters ought to be homebuildable and with far more power than the average UWB transmitter.

I might be giving away ideas here, but doubt that terrorists read /. and that they couldn't have thought of it themselves :) In fact why bother being on the plane, have it in the baggage hold on a timer... It's not explosives, its a harmless walkman...

Just a thought, these things crop up when people try one solution to a problem, but they are just trying to prevent it. And even though people say prevention is better than cure, cure is far more reliable.

Z.

P.S. Sorry to bring the 'terrorist' angle up again but this strikes me as a stupid thing to do, even if it never occurs. When you have people's lives at risk it ought to be cure, not a reliance on prevention.

Re:Eeek (0)

C0deJunkie (309293) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187814)

As I just mentioned [slashdot.org] the traffic (expecially when heavy) is regulated from the ground. So those interferences wouldn't have catastrophic effects.

Make a sentence out of: monkey, key, banana-farm (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187833)

Banana plantage of course but that didn't fit.

/. crowd are the terrorist remember? That is why they are passing all these laws to limit the use of computers.

Of course in the real world we all know geeks rarely inspire terror except in girls at the thought they may ever have to touch one.

Britain (2, Funny)

nmg196 (184961) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187770)

I wish he could spell Britain properly... I don't go around writing Amerwika do I? Especially since it's the article title...

Re:Britain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187829)

You'll have to forgive him, his fingers are a little sore from doing this [okienoodling.com] all weekend.

Re:Britain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187836)

Damned merkins can't spell properly anyway ;)

Re:Britain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187839)

Correct spelling on /. ? That'll bee tze day

Re:Britain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187877)

Britardland you mean? ;-)

The spelling and grammar troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187771)

It has come to my attention that "slashdot", subsidiary of VA Software, is a refuge for people with a terrible sense for grammar and spelling. As a remediation, please accept the following recommandations about the use of some frequent linguistic expressions :
  • "Alot" vs. "A lot" : There is no such word as alot. In fact, when confronted with the word alot, ispell tells the following : "how about : allot,aloe,aloft, alto, blot, clot, lot, plot, slot"
  • Just because moronic Americans pronounce Berstein, Neither, Einstein and other as "Burnstean", "Neather", "Ainstean", etc... doesn't mean they have to write those words "Bernstien", "niether" or "Einstien". Special metion to "thier" and "amatuer".
  • "Than" vs. "Then" : Just the fact that in some inferior dialects of the English language, "than" and "then" are pronounced about the same way doesn't mean that the comparative "than" has any reason to be written as the conjunctive/logical "then".
  • Your vs. You're : The former one means "not my, not his, not our", in other words it is a possessive. The latter is a shortcut for "You are". Same point for There vs Their.
  • Hobbyist and lobbyist are not superlatives. Hence they musn't be written as hobbiest and lobbiest.
  • ...many more to come. Reply to this comment to suggest some.

Re:The spelling and grammar troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187785)

Hello gayboy! Are you ready for the BUTT FUCKING? 123go!

((fagsex))

Good gayfucks, fag buttboy!

Re:The spelling and grammar troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187842)

oh, for about 1000 mod points to apply on the negative side...

First time reading /. on -1. Don't plan to do so again.

Scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187890)

The moderation system allows just one vote from a dipshit like this, to lower your post below the threshold of most everyone. And whatever braindamage has caused his malfunction is just one of many disruptive voting types.

A way to eliminate this is to require multiple votes to change a score. As it is now, the noise floor is allowed to participate in the voting process. Aggregate scoring is accurate scoring.

Re:The spelling and grammar troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187794)

Same point for There vs Their.

Even worse is when They're is mis-used. The confusion concerning Their/There I can almost understand, but when an English speaker confuses They're and Their it really makes me cringe.

Re:The spelling and grammar troll (0)

scalis (594038) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187815)

... And some of us are neither american nor english. I dare you to try and get the grammars perfect in, say, french after only a couple of years in a classroom. ** Me fail English? Unpossible!!

Re:The spelling and grammar troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187824)

Then shut your mouth and listen, schoolboy ! Neither (it's pronounced "n'I the") am I. And english is much easier than (not then) french.

Re:The spelling and grammar troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187886)

.. And some of us are neither american nor english.

All the people writing the headlines are. Submitters you have a point, but headlines? No. And the editors should actually edit any article that is submitted to them to ensure it reads correctly.

Re:The spelling and grammar troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187866)

Supercalifragilisticexpihalitosis!

Electrosmog (1)

lexcyber (133454) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187773)


With more and more devices going wireless from
here to there. Maybe the aircraft bussiness has to
adjust their machines to work in a "hostile"
electromagnetic world. With bluetooth enabled
pda's talking to other pda's in the cabin etc. etc.
And imagine the flying in over a town where there
is a few tousand wavelan hotspots to fly thru.

wireless - ho yeah! =)

yes I look like a walking gadgetshop with my
laptop, pda, phone and bluetooth stuff. And my

SOG multiplier =)

Incidentally,... (2)

forged (206127) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187776)

This is why I believe CD-player equipments (w/ laser lenses) were banned in the first place... That was a while ago, though.

The real annoying part about laptops in airplanes is the limited battery life. Where are power outlets when one need them the most !

Re:Incidentally,... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187796)

Where are power outlets when one need them the most !

Sorry about your cheap-ass coach-flying ass. We got power up front.

Re:Incidentally,... (2)

matthew.thompson (44814) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187799)

Where are power outlets when one need them the most !
Premium Economy/World Traveller Plus and above. Or at least if your Fly Virgin/BA.

Ironically this move would hurt those users who are paying the most. And me when I get a seat with a non-functioning video screen.

Over-reacting, again (2)

Llywelyn (531070) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187782)

"...because flight crews do not have the knowledge to differentiate between standard notebooks and ones with UWB devices."

Two Replies:
"Knowledge is Power"

"Never Underestimate the Power of Stupid People in Large Groups"

Seriously, did anyone else get the impression from this that we are going to be flying nude without carry-on bags of any sort in the near future?

Considering how rare (nonexistent in the consumer market, according tot he article) these things are presently, why is this considered a problem that deserves such reactionary treatment as banning *all* laptops and PDAs? (Nevermind that if we want to treat this as a security risk there go calculators, game boys, and anything else that could conceal one of these things).

More reactionary nonsense in the name of "security": I'm waiting for someone to attempt to hijack an airplane with their shoelaces (a garrote) and see how quickly it takes legislators to attempt to ban shoes.

Re:Over-reacting, again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187807)

Over reacting my ass.

The reason why FAA is uncompromising is because there is fuck all margin for error in aircraft. You have a big failure, you more than likely end up bugsplat. Why do you think they have redundant systems galore?

You have a major fuckup in a car, it's more than likely you can survive. Hey, your going a lot slower too and your not 10,000 meters in the air.

Personally I would rather the ban than to become a crater in the ground that could have been prevented.

Re:Over-reacting, again (1)

Memetic (306131) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187808)

Seriously, did anyone else get the impression from this that we are going to be flying nude without carry-on bags of any sort in the near future?

Hmm so long as they install condom machines in the toilets that should be pretty low risk all round....

Re:Over-reacting, again (1)

Brymouse (563050) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187835)

I vaguely remember in a Steven Seagal movie, didn't he make somekind of bomb out of a condom and a microwave?

Might not be the best thing to sell. I think some saltpeter (KNO3) in the drinks would take care of it.

Re:Over-reacting, again (2)

Kanon (152815) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187853)

I vaguely remember in a Steven Seagal movie

That partial amnesia of yours is probably caused by the shock of watching Steven Seagal movies. Just thought you should know.

Re:Over-reacting, again (1)

Bloodmoon1 (604793) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187827)

You have to look at it in a future text as well. While these things are rare currently, as time goes on, UWB devices will only grow in #s. It does suck that this is the approach they're going with for now (I'm sure there has to be some sort of screening technology) but I do see their concerns. Once I took my cable out of my TV for some reason or another and left it out for a few days. The cable company showed up and said the signal was leaking and interfering with the devices on the airplanes that fly by my house often (They didn't specify civil or military, I have both fly by often) and they reconnected everything lose and replaced a few old splitters. They do take this shit really seriously, as well they should. Besides, how'd you like to be the idiot that crashes a plane because your PDA decided to try to reach out and touch something?

Problems with this.. (2)

guacamole (24270) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187784)

Not allowing laptops to be carried aboard would be a very drastic measure. I protest. I certainly don't want to check in my laptop with the rest of my luggage because:
1) Laptops are expensive and can be stolen
2) Laptops are fragile. I have seen how airport workers handle the luggage. I shiver with the thought of them throwing my laptop bag around like a football ball.

I think, a good compromise would be to allow people to carry laptops aboard but disallow using them at all times. Of course, the airlines could make a case for banning the laptops aboard by saying that they could be used by the terrorists to "knock out" whatever UWB systems that are vulnerable to this..

Re:Problems with this.. (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187858)

ehm, there is very little difference between taking a laptop with you in the cabin and putting it in you're luggage. The only between the cabin and the luggage is a very thin floor.

The problem is with it being on, no I don't know either why aircraft electronics are not shielded either. Of course how would the airline staff check that an laptop in a bag is on or off? Or off but the wifi network card on listining for a wake up call?

On the other hand this is nothing new. Phones have to be switched off and so far there have only been a couple of near accidents. So maybe we will be lucky. Of course there are still a number of unexplained accidents.

Re:Problems with this.. (2)

tomknight (190939) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187874)

"ehm, there is very little difference between taking a laptop with you in the cabin and putting it in you're luggage. The only between the cabin and the luggage is a very thin floor."

...and the aount of care taken by the person putting it on thne plane?

(I won't start mention the pressure and temperature, as I don't think they're enough of a problem.)

Tom.

Re:Problems with this.. (1)

6Yankee (597075) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187865)

Of course, the airlines could make a case for banning the laptops aboard by saying that they could be used by the terrorists to "knock out" whatever UWB systems that are vulnerable to this

My old 286 "laptop" (you needed a big lap) could be used by the terrorists to "knock out" flight attendants... it was essentially two or three house bricks in a beige case!

Get real! Take me to x or i'll unplug my headphone (1)

Memetic (306131) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187787)

As I understand it crudely speaking a UWB transmitter is based on a spark gap.

That being the case have United and NASA just proved that planse can be serioulsy put at risk by somone making sparks with say a coin across the terminals of a 9v battery?

If that were true then almost any battery operated device or plane system could be abused to put the plane at risk.

On that basis take me to xxxx or i'll repeatedly plug in and unplug my headphones will be a credible hijack threat.

Re:Get real! Take me to x or i'll unplug my headph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187844)

Simple. Ban headphones.

(this isn't a knee-jerk, I normally walk like this)

Re:Get real! Take me to x or i'll unplug my headph (2, Insightful)

Memetic (306131) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187879)

Ridiculous, banning headphones will not solve this, they are an innocent party, we need to get rid of the passengers....

Air Traffic Control (1, Informative)

C0deJunkie (309293) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187790)

It's worth remainding the for Instrument Flights (IFR), collision avoidance and traffic regulation is totally managed from the ground, by those smart guys called ATC.
From a certain point of view this means that the TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) should be used really rarely.
From the other side it means that a few instruments are provided to pilots as emergency tools.
I'm used to play with my laptop when travelling, but as a simple passenger i'd prefer to keep all emergency instrument in a perfect state.

why do dont they chnage thier hardware (1)

LoKikiller (518583) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187791)

Why dont airlines develop hardware that is safe from (the rather low intensity) interfrence from notebook and other protable devices? It seems that airlines which allow notebooks, cd-player etc. on board would get a lot more business. Lokikiller out WhooHa!

This is funny... (1)

mraymer (516227) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187792)

"It states that the blanket ban on all devices [is] necessary because flight crews do not have the knowledge to differentiate between standard notebooks and ones with UWB devices."

I happen to know a form of technology that humans have had for some time now. It's called: education. Surely flight crews could be given a crash course on what to look for instead of making everyone suffer?

Pointing out the obvious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187806)

flight crews could be given a crash course

Ba dum dum

Re:This is funny... (2)

tomknight (190939) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187878)

So you're suggesting that flight crews should have to learn all about laptop (etc) configurations, and then check them all off? I know banning them's silly, but please, get real!

Tom.

So in other words... (5, Funny)

seldolivaw (179178) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187793)

If I want to cause panic on a commercial aircraft, I no longer need to bring a bomb?

"Stand back! I have a bluetooth device!"

Potential reactions... (2, Funny)

Raetsel (34442) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187862)


I don't know if you'd even get to finish that sentence...
  • "Stand back! I have a bluetooth..."
"Eewwww, get away! Heard of a toothbrush? When was the last time you used one??"

"Blue tooth, huh? You really ought to see a dentist about that..."

Another down side is that geeks talking about tech are going to be put in the same category as people making jokes about bombs, guns, and hijackings -- subject to summary arrest.

what's new? (1)

fiiz (263633) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187795)

Most airlines (in europe) don't allow laptop use anyways, and that's been a while.

At first it was only during takeoff and landing, but now it's throughout the whole flight--and that's before UWB of course.

It's annoying, but it makes sense--maybe they should think about shielding things a little better ;-)

Re:what's new? (1)

Memetic (306131) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187816)

Er really?

Can you list those airlines you know this is the case for?

Re:what's new? (1)

fiiz (263633) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187856)

Well here in europe it's rather common (just see the post a few posts below.)

I could cite BA, Austrian Airways, swissair or maybe some of the smaller companies like go-airways, easyjets, ryanair (which sucks)..--it's probably because laptops have CD players.

I remember some time ago (mayb e 2 years or something) there had been an instance of interference and that's what started it all.

Re:what's new? (1)

Memetic (306131) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187871)

I asked as it has never been my experience, while flying on Go, Ryan Air, BA, Deutche BA and KLM in the past two years.

Mind you as the Captian has the final say, it could well be variable by flight - or perhaps I was sleeping!

Personally I usually use a Psion when flying, much smaller and a 30hour usable battery life!

What's Britan (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187803)

bling bling

This is nothing (2)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187804)

One of the airlines (in Europe) that i've flowned with (and which shall remain nameless) forbade the use of CD reading devices during any part of the flight. At first i tought it was just misinformation from the stewardess, but i checked the airline's magazine and there it was in the safety precautions section - no CD reading devices.

I really cannot see what's the problem with CD reading devices. Maybe there's some BOFH like explanation, say:
"Quantum coupled ressonance between the CD reading laser and the flight systems"

Re:This is nothing (1)

bob_dinosaur (544930) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187857)

The Irish Aviation Authority bans the use of all battery operated or laser equipment on flights. This means that Ryanair & Aer Lingus (at least) don't allow it on flights into & out of Ireland. Not sure if it applies to any aircraft flying in or out of the country.

Re:This is nothing (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187881)

this is still quite common.

I don't know about you... (2)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187809)

But between the tiny seats in couch, short battery life, the 10 minutes we actually get to use them, and jealous stares by other folk, I have just about given up on using my laptop on flights.

If I plan on traveling in leasure, I have my wife drive or I'll take the train!

Uh, oh. (1)

Trane Francks (10459) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187811)

I'm a not-so-infrequent air traveler and, man, if I'm not able to use my laptop onboard, I'm screwed. I travel between Tokyo and Vienna and with an 11-12hr. flight, you wanna bet that a couple of hours of working with the notebook helps to pass the time. Efficiently, even.

(Deep Breath)

One would hope that sensibilities will prevail. I'm allowed to take my cell phone on the plane and I do make calls right up to the point we are about to taxi out to the runway. No hassles from anybody. As long as I turn off my phone, the crew is happy.

As with not using CD-ROM drives on board -- I don't -- one should just be able to disable the WiFi and use the computer. Let's hope that they realize that business people really do require the use of their laptops while they fly.

Re:Uh, oh. (2)

tomknight (190939) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187883)

But the problem here is the management suits who are too think to realise that cool optional extra they have in their lovely new laptop is the thing they've just been told to turn off.

Tom.

yes and no (2, Insightful)

corian (34925) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187813)

It states that the blanket ban on all devices in necessary because flight crews do not have the knowledge to differentiate between standard notebooks and ones with UWB devices.

That doesn't indicate that a blanket ban is "necessary". That implies just that a blanket ban is either easier or cheaper for the airline than actually training their flight crews how to differentiate.

yet another option (1)

corian (34925) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187818)

collision-avoidance systems and ... instrument landing systems

These sound like mission-critical systems. Perhaps they be appropriaty shielded to block interference from other electronic devices?

Re:yet another option (1)

GdoL (460833) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187847)

These sound like mission-critical systems. Perhaps they be appropriaty shielded to block interference from other electronic devices?

Business decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187822)

May be it has something to do with the on-air casino on all Australian aircraft? You plug your credit card in and play right there on your seat. You end up clean when you land, sort of robbing the tourist before they even arrive?

So no more quaking on-board?

Damn! (1)

RichWest (605144) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187834)

How I'm I supposed to hack wireless networks at 50,000 feet now? Heh, I bet noone thought of that before... Oh, wait...

"business men" only pretending anyway... (1)

BushDiverOne (595832) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187837)

Whenever I see a business man "working" on a flight he is usually just trying to look cool and appear ultra productive - which clearly he is not or the work would be done already.

Exactly WHAT were they using? (3, Interesting)

Raetsel (34442) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187843)


Okay, let me get this straight...
  1. FCC approves UWB devices for testing at power levels an order of magnitude less than is commonly believed to cause ANY interference,

    AND

  2. UWB devices have been tested, and found to interfere with the #1 topic guaranteed to scare large populations?
What device did they test? Where'd they get these things? How can I know they didn't just hook up a 30KV spark-gap transmitter and go "See??? Interference!" (Booga booga booga!!)

Oh, great. "UWB will cause a 747 to crash into the White House, curdle your milk, kidnap your virgin daughter and sell her to the Hells Angels, molest your wife, and defraud every company you've ever invested in!"

Great, sure. The airline industry (like any industry) hates to spend money unless it's absolutely necessary. Look at the current state of US air traffic control. (Yike!) Heck, look up the state of aviation radios, even! There's a simple little thing called "heterodyne detection" that isn't present! (People have died as a result!) Yes, there are fancy computers, and GPS, and "glass cockpits" -- but there are some extremely basic technologies of aviation that haven't changed in 50 years simply because nobody has said "That's dangerous and idiotic, we've had better tech for a generation! Do it right!!!"

On second thought... this is probably a good thing. It'll return air travel to its' proper place -- an enforced, several-hour vacation! Relax, look out the window, marvel at the world you live in. No phones, no computers, but lots of distractions. God forbid, you might even talk to your neighbor. (I wonder how many people even remember how to work with a pen and a piece of paper..?)

Re:Exactly WHAT were they using? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187885)


I wonder how many people even remember how to work with a pen and a piece of paper..?

I bet you 50 bucks you can't do long division.

The above dosn't apply if you are over 30 years of age :-)

Standards (2)

nuggz (69912) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187849)

Just make sure the UWB standards don't use any preallocated frequencies. And have hefty fines for making/possessing one that does.

Re:Standards (1)

Memetic (306131) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187893)

UWB means Ultra Wide Band.

It sends data at very low power across a very wide range of frequencies, avoiding all of the used frequencies, or even just many of them would kind of defeat the objective.

Flight crews? (1)

jetmarc (592741) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187850)

Why ban all laptops, just because the CREW doesn't know them? Wouldn't it be better to just ask the owner and decide then? After all, many owners know.

Bullshit (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187873)

90 percent of users have NO IDEA as to what devices they have installed in their laptops. Just ask the lUSER? You are truly a moron. Please re-insert your head in your ass. Failing that...blow me.

Safty Mesage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187854)

Plese bukl ur seetbelts. Hop u injoy ur flite.

-The Captan

Laptop Power (2)

T-Kir (597145) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187859)

Oh well, I just came off a transatlantic flight to London on the weekend and it looks like they give laptop power cords for anyone who needs them (even in economy - I may be wrong though)... so I guess they'd be plugging those up (so to speak), at least in British airspace.

Sup? Niggers... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4187860)

Retro-fitting aircraft would be too costly, you imbeciles! Spell checking articles would be too costly, you fools. If your device causes interference to navigational systems, then you must turn it off. This has been in effect for YEARS. Simply shoot anyone with a laptop or a handheld! Those niggers are terrorists anyway. Could it be that slashdotters are just a bunch of ignorant ho's? Seems like it.

Stability And Security (5, Insightful)

Effugas (2378) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187861)

Once again, the equivalence of instability with insecurity rears its ugly head.

What we appear to have is a claim that airplane electronics are extraordinarily open to interference from consumer devices. They are so open, that such devices may indeed accidentally trigger safety-critical failures in the operating environment.

Lets assume this is true.

Now understand, that which can be accidental does not need to be.

If one can accidentally down a plane with a gameboy, it stands to reason that one may be able to intentionally down the plane with the very same gameboy -- easier, in fact, because the attacker knows exactly which frequencies to exploit. This is...disturbing. I cannot imagine it very difficult to stow any form of consumer electronics, even with a "time delay" activation, inside of luggage or carryon.

Now, I'm not afraid of gameboys. See, I've *met* Boeing safety engineers. Hell, I've quoted em, learned a bit from em. Paranoid doesn't begin to describe them. These guys imagine everything, and implying that they didn't budget for even a miniscule amount of shielding and noise resistance...it's almost insulting.

Hell, you don't see planes crash every time the sun decides to belch out a few terajoules of flare in our direction. Not to mention the basic design of a fuselage bears some resemblance to an EM-blocking faraday cage.

Granted, it may very well be this same paranoia that allows those same engineers to say "Please, no new equipment, we couldn't test with that precise radio environment". The *world* is an unpredictable precise radio environment, and unfortunately, so now are its residents. I hate to say it, but if a plane can't survive a ringing cell phone, it ain't Nokia who's to blame.

That being said, the UWB failure are interesting: If the claim is that UWB operates below the noise floor relative to a given frequency, then the question becomes how did the collision avoidance systems even *detect* UWB transmissions, unless they themselves operate in a baseband manner?

One answer is that noise floors might be relative: A nearby transmitter emitting weakly across all frequencies might be overpowering the far away signal tranmitting on one. This is...hard to believe, but not impossible.

I suppose that's my biggest problem with the consumer electronics ban: Since it's inconceivable that planes are actually vulnerable to random noise from consumer electronics, *all* device-level concerns become suspect. That's annoying.

If somebody -- anybody -- has evidence they feel I should see, feel free to contact me here or in email.

Yours Truly,

Dan Kaminsky
DoxPara Research
http://www.doxpara.com

airline security is apparently still lacking (2)

g4dget (579145) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187867)

If a laptop can play havoc with navigation and landing systems, there is something wrong with the navigation and landing systems. Banning laptops isn't going to fix this. Installing shielding or more robust airplane electronics are solutions.

This will not work (2, Interesting)

david_e_v (42652) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187872)

The thing is that, if you really want your laptop to emit these UWB, you can do it (you don't have to power off your laptop even if you have it in its case, you know).
If there is really a case against the USE of laptops within the airplanes, there is an absolute need for some kind of screening system (we should be forced to put our laptops in special cases). If not, then this is just another case of false sense of security, and all this discussion is nonsense.

Are they making that much money on the headphones? (4, Funny)

ellem (147712) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187889)

I mean, really, what this is really about is the airlines losing the 5-10 bucks they charge for those headphones so you can watch those sorry ass movies on crappy VHS.

What they really want to ban is DVD players!

Shurely you can tell... (2)

Kragg (300602) | more than 12 years ago | (#4187894)

When your collision system bluescreens??
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?