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Brad Adrian
05-01-2003, 09:00 AM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/69/30482.html' target='_blank'>http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/69/30482.html</a><br /><br /></div>My very most favourite (not) online news source, The Register, has an interesting article about a potential use of WiFi and PDAs in the wild blue yonder. Supposedly, Britannia Airlines will soon be issuing Cassiopeia PDAs to its cabin crews and eventually wirelessly linking them to each other and to an in-flight duty-free shop. You'll need to read the entire article to see all of the possible ways the devices might be used; more importantly, though, it reintroduces the discussion of whether wireless devices are really as much a danger to airline flight controls as we've been led to believe.<br /><br />While you're at it, be sure to read the related editorial entitled <a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/69/30444.html">Time To Challenge Airline Paranoia On Wireless</a>. I know next to nothing about how radio waves do or do not interfere with each other or the inner workings of an airliner's navigation system. I do know, though, that whenever I fly I see a LOT of people breaking the "10,000 foot rule" and in all my travels I do not recall ever being in a single airline disaster.<br /><br />I propose an experiment to settle the matter once and for all. I say we load up an airliner with a bunch of our favourite "test monkeys," like Washington DC bureaucrats, tax collectors, country western singers and proctologists. Then, we give them each a collection of mobile phones, notebook PCs and wireless PDAs, turn all the devices on and set the plane on a transatlantic flight.<br /><br />Sure, if wireless interference really IS a problem, the losses would be significant. But isn't it worth the cost of a few PDAs to find out?

Abba Zabba
05-01-2003, 10:28 AM
Well speaking from experience I have forgot (many times) to turn off my cell phone :oops: while flying a Cessna 172 and as you can read I'm still here :D

To give everyone the skinny there is a slight possibility that the RF signals emitting can throw off the complex systmes that are used by the big boy carriers. But in reality the chance of it interrupting anything is > 1% of the time. The reason the FAA bans some devices is the chance that one day they will corrupt an A/C system and cause an accident. But in defense of us geeks more testing should be done from the part of the FAA :evil: But asking for testing from an agency that is still in the process of updating its (outdated) navigation systems that are 40 years old is like asking.. well you tell me :?:

BugDude10
05-01-2003, 12:00 PM
As a country/western-singing U.S. Congressman and amateur proctologist, I am offended.

DaleReeck
05-01-2003, 12:43 PM
Well speaking from experience I have forgot (many times) to turn off my cell phone :oops: while flying a Cessna 172 and as you can read I'm still here :D

To give everyone the skinny there is a slight possibility that the RF signals emitting can throw off the complex systmes that are used by the big boy carriers. But in reality the chance of it interrupting anything is > 1% of the time. The reason the FAA bans some devices is the chance that one day they will corrupt an A/C system and cause an accident. But in defense of us geeks more testing should be done from the part of the FAA :evil: But asking for testing from an agency that is still in the process of updating its (outdated) navigation systems that are 40 years old is like asking.. well you tell me :?:

Of course, the electronic systems of a 747 are a little more advanced than a Cessna's :mrgreen:

Brad Adrian
05-01-2003, 01:06 PM
As a country/western-singing U.S. Congressman and amateur proctologist, I am offended.
In that case, I apologize to all the members of the BCWSCP (Brotherhood of Country-Western Singing Congressional Proctologists). :). Now, if you'd said you were a tax collector, too, I would have been a bit suspicious.

tmhisey
05-01-2003, 01:28 PM
FWIW, this thread points to a common misconception: although its commonly believed that the FAA bans airborne use of cellular telephones, in fact this ban comes from the FCC, not the FAA :!:

At the FAA's web site, http://www1.faa.gov/avr/afs/acs/ac91211a.pdf you can find Advisory Circular 91.21-1A: "Use of Portable Electronic Devices Aboard Aircraft."

Allowing the use of specific Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) is the responsibility/right of the individual air carriers: "This rule permits use of specified PEDís and other devices that the operator of the aircraft has determined will not interfere with the safe operation of the aircraft in which it is operated."

There's a lot of text here 8O (sorry! I've underlined and highlighted to make it a little easier :mrgreen:)

"There are certain devices, which by their nature and design, transmit intentionally. These include cellular telephones, citizens band radios, remote control devices, etc. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) typically licenses these devices as land mobile devices. The FCC currently prohibits the use and operation of cellular telephones while airborne. Its primary concern is that a cellular telephone, while used airborne, would have a much greater transmitting range than a land mobile unit. This could result in serious interference to transmissions at other cell locations since the system uses the same frequency several times within a market. Since a cellular mobile telephone unit is capable of operating on all assignable cellular frequencies, serious interference may also occur to cellular systems in adjacent markets. The FAA supports this airborne restriction for reasons of potential interference to critical aircraft systems. Currently, the FAA does not prohibit use of cellular telephones in aircraft while on the ground if the operator has determined that they will not interfere with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which they are to be used. An example might be their use at the gate or during an extended wait on the ground, while awaiting a gate, when specifically authorized by the captain. A cellular telephone will not be authorized for use while the aircraft is being taxied for departure after leaving the gate. The unit will be turned off and properly stowed, otherwise it is possible that a signal from a ground cell could activate it. Whatever procedures an operator elects to adopt should be clearly spelled out in oral departure briefings and by written material provided to each passenger to avoid passenger confusion."

jpaq
05-01-2003, 01:38 PM
After all of this, I'm left wondering someting that none of you have mentioned.

What Cassiopeia are they going to issue? The E200? Something new? the new oe we've seen scattered pictures of?

Hmmm???

:?

ExtremeSIMS
05-01-2003, 01:46 PM
FWIW, this thread points to a common misconception: although its commonly believed that the FAA bans airborne use of cellular telephones, in fact this ban comes from the FCC, not the FAA :!:

At the FAA's web site, http://www1.faa.gov/avr/afs/acs/ac91211a.pdf you can find Advisory Circular 91.21-1A: "Use of Portable Electronic Devices Aboard Aircraft."
....

Thank goodness someone answered with the correct reason. :) One of those things that I find amusing...

zoomie
05-01-2003, 01:53 PM
I am a pilot on a Boeing 767. I have been flying this type of aircraft for 10 years. From what I have seen it is not the radio waves created by wireless devices that have caused any problems, I too have left my cell phone on once or twice. The only consequence would be a ringing phone on takeoff. No problem with landing because the battery would usually be dead from the continuous search by the phone during flight. I did hear a rumor of one pilot getting fired for answering his phone during takeoff while watching the other pilot fly, not a good idea.
The real problem that I have seen on this type of aircraft came during cruise altitude on the North Atlantic routes. We normally use ground radio navigation systems to update an internal ring laser gyros navigation system on the aircraft (very arcaic compared to some systems on some Cessnas). Over the North Atlantic we do not have the ground stations. Normally the internal system is very acurate by itself. Occasionally we will notice a deviation of a mile or two, which is very significant in the North Atlantic airspace. By trying to track down the problem it was observed by some pilots that electronic devices in use in the back of the plane seemed to be a common thread. After asking people to turn off the devices, the correct positon would return.
My favorite story involved a large deviation of the above type. After going back to the cabin to investigate, the pilot saw 5 young boys busily destroying allien invaders on their gameboys. The problem seems to be associated with radio waves created by small devices just being turned on and not to the radio waves broadcast for communication purposes.
Sidelight, expect to be allowed to use your cellphone upon landing, soon. You currently must wait until parked at the gate.

MultiMatt
05-01-2003, 01:54 PM
The FCC currently prohibits the use and operation of cellular telephones while airborne. Its primary concern is that a cellular telephone, while used airborne, would have a much greater transmitting range than a land mobile unit. This could result in serious interference to transmissions at other cell locations since the system uses the same frequency several times within a market.
I have heard that this translates to "with the plane moving so fast, we would not be able to keep track of the handoffs on the call and properly charge the individual for their phone usage!"

In conversations with several flight attendants as well, there appears to be a quiet agreement between the airlines and the in-flight phone carriers. They ban the use of personal phones so that the in-flight phones (at a bajillion dollars a minute) must be used.
Sounds plausible to me. It's all about money!

Matt

rbrome
05-01-2003, 02:06 PM
FWIW, this thread points to a common misconception: although its commonly believed that the FAA bans airborne use of cellular telephones, in fact this ban comes from the FCC, not the FAA :!:

Right. Basically, an active cell phone on a plane - even if you're not calling anyone - can do bad things to the cell phone network on the ground. It probably won't work for you, and even if it does, your battery life will disappear quickly, and service will be poor. The cell phone networks were designed with fundamental assumption that you're on the ground.

Wi-Fi is another story. But because of its shorter range, I doubt you could connect to anything on the ground (and if you did, you're moving too fast to stay connected) and while some might disagree, I think an ad-hoc network with friends and co-workers on the plane is of limited value.

What will be nice is when airlines start offering in-flight wi-fi Internet access. There are several companies and airlines working on such technology.

But I think until the above happens, wireless on planes is a bad idea. (Actually - Bluetooth should be fine.) All we really need is for airlines to recognize the fact that modern phones and wireless PDAs have an "airplane mode" that lets you turn the radio circuits off. SAS recently acknowledged this, but more airlines need to follow suit. If I want to play a game on my smartphone during a flight, I should be able to, as long as the wireless is off.

jpaq
05-01-2003, 02:10 PM
I am a pilot on a Boeing 767. I have been flying this type of aircraft for 10 years. From what I have seen it is not the radio waves created by wireless devices that have caused any problems, I too have left my cell phone on once or twice. The only consequence would be a ringing phone on takeoff. No problem with landing because the battery would usually be dead from the continuous search by the phone during flight. I did hear a rumor of one pilot getting fired for answering his phone during takeoff while watching the other pilot fly, not a good idea.
The real problem that I have seen on this type of aircraft came during cruise altitude on the North Atlantic routes. We normally use ground radio navigation systems to update an internal ring laser gyros navigation system on the aircraft (very arcaic compared to some systems on some Cessnas). Over the North Atlantic we do not have the ground stations. Normally the internal system is very acurate by itself. Occasionally we will notice a deviation of a mile or two, which is very significant in the North Atlantic airspace. By trying to track down the problem it was observed by some pilots that electronic devices in use in the back of the plane seemed to be a common thread. After asking people to turn off the devices, the correct positon would return.
My favorite story involved a large deviation of the above type. After going back to the cabin to investigate, the pilot saw 5 young boys busily destroying allien invaders on their gameboys. The problem seems to be associated with radio waves created by small devices just being turned on and not to the radio waves broadcast for communication purposes.
Sidelight, expect to be allowed to use your cellphone upon landing, soon. You currently must wait until parked at the gate.

Here's what confuses me. There are dead zones for wireless phones all over most major cities in the U.S. You can't get a good WiFi signal through too many walls. And a 6 year old's GameBoy is breaking the radio and/or navigational system barrier of a 767?

I'm not disagreeing with you, Zoomie. Actually, I feel for you. This would seem to be one more reason (beyond the obvious since 9/11) to put steel doors and walls up between the cockpit and the passengers. I would think the steel would block the deadly GameBoy frequencies from interrupting the safe operation of the aircraft.

Then again, I might not knopw what the h$% I'm talking about.

:lol:

dbrahms
05-01-2003, 02:27 PM
who cares. your phone doesnt work at 30,000 feet anyway. shut it off, watch the movie, eat your peanutes and keep quiet

brent_anderson
05-01-2003, 03:02 PM
I propose an experiment to settle the matter once and for all. I say we load up an airliner with a bunch of our favourite "test monkeys," like Washington DC bureaucrats, tax collectors, country western singers and proctologists. Then, we give them each a collection of mobile phones, notebook PCs and wireless PDAs, turn all the devices on and set the plane on a transatlantic flight.

Sure, if wireless interference really IS a problem, the losses would be significant. But isn't it worth the cost of a few PDAs to find out?

Just fill it with Lawyers! ;)

Brent

yunez
05-01-2003, 03:04 PM
i like peanuts

Brad Adrian
05-01-2003, 03:29 PM
What Cassiopeia are they going to issue?
I really don't know. It's referenced as a "Cassiopeia PDA," so we can't assume that it's a Pocket PC.

szamot
05-01-2003, 03:38 PM
As a country/western-singing U.S. Congressman and amateur proctologist, I am offended.

..no worries we will make it up to you - Frirst Class ticket it is then and all the peanuts you can eat... :D

EcS
05-01-2003, 03:57 PM
I am a pilot on a Boeing 767. I have been flying this type of aircraft for 10 years. From what I have seen it is not the radio waves created by wireless devices that have caused any problems, I too have left my cell phone on once or twice. The only consequence would be a ringing phone on takeoff. No problem with landing because the battery would usually be dead from the continuous search by the phone during flight. I did hear a rumor of one pilot getting fired for answering his phone during takeoff while watching the other pilot fly, not a good idea.
The real problem that I have seen on this type of aircraft came during cruise altitude on the North Atlantic routes. We normally use ground radio navigation systems to update an internal ring laser gyros navigation system on the aircraft (very arcaic compared to some systems on some Cessnas). Over the North Atlantic we do not have the ground stations. Normally the internal system is very acurate by itself. Occasionally we will notice a deviation of a mile or two, which is very significant in the North Atlantic airspace. By trying to track down the problem it was observed by some pilots that electronic devices in use in the back of the plane seemed to be a common thread. After asking people to turn off the devices, the correct positon would return.
My favorite story involved a large deviation of the above type. After going back to the cabin to investigate, the pilot saw 5 young boys busily destroying allien invaders on their gameboys. The problem seems to be associated with radio waves created by small devices just being turned on and not to the radio waves broadcast for communication purposes.
Sidelight, expect to be allowed to use your cellphone upon landing, soon. You currently must wait until parked at the gate.

Here's what confuses me. There are dead zones for wireless phones all over most major cities in the U.S. You can't get a good WiFi signal through too many walls. And a 6 year old's GameBoy is breaking the radio and/or navigational system barrier of a 767?

I'm not disagreeing with you, Zoomie. Actually, I feel for you. This would seem to be one more reason (beyond the obvious since 9/11) to put steel doors and walls up between the cockpit and the passengers. I would think the steel would block the deadly GameBoy frequencies from interrupting the safe operation of the aircraft.

Then again, I might not knopw what the h$% I'm talking about.

:lol:


Again, it's not the radio waves, it's the EM from an unshielded electronic device. Ever notice with older monitors or some TV's how they go nuts when near each other? That's due to a lack of shielding and all of the wacky transients produced in the electronics. I love walking around the office with my inductive pickup (telephone tool) and seeing how much EM gets sprayed by modern phones, monitors, etc. My sons GameBoy REALLY sprays EM - which confirms the observation on the quoted post.

As a former aircraft mechanic, I can tell you that steel doors for the cockpit won't help this - none of the antennae are in the cockpit, they are all mounted on the fusalage. Basically just outside of the passenger cabin.

Unreal32
05-01-2003, 03:58 PM
I fly a lot for work -- and I mean a LOT -- and I've spoken to a couple of pilots who happened to sit next to me from time to time. One thing a couple of them mentioned is that one reason the airlines don't push back on these regulations is that they view electronic devices as a nuisance, even if the whole "electronic interference" argument is spurious.

For example, imagine the frustration a flight attendant feels when:

(a) a passenger can't hear their instructions (put up the seat backs and tray tables, please) because they have their walkman on full blast,

(b) a passenger drops his $500-800 PDA during takeoff, and it slides back under his seat or worse, down the aisle behind him... and he decides to unbuckle his seat belt to go after it while the plane is lifting off or climbing, or descending.

(c) one guy has a cell phone, the next has a PDA, and a third a gameboy... it's just easier to tell *everyone* to turn off *all* electronic devices.

I think the restriction, based on *these* arguments, is warranted. However, saying it's due to electrical interference from the PDA is a load of crap, IMHO.

FWIW, if I can bring down the 747 I am on with just my iPaq's electronics or the signal from my v60, I don't think I want to be riding in that plane. :wink:

GregWard
05-01-2003, 03:59 PM
What's the situation with GPS? Anybody know? Ok - I recognise it's receiving rather than sending. But I've seen several articles about people tracking their progress via their own GPS in-flight. If a Gameboy can interfere with electronics - presumably a GPS can too?

EcS
05-01-2003, 04:11 PM
What's the situation with GPS? Anybody know? Ok - I recognise it's receiving rather than sending. But I've seen several articles about people tracking their progress via their own GPS in-flight. If a Gameboy can interfere with electronics - presumably a GPS can too?


They may have better shielding, but it's probably like the situation mention in one of the posts above: It is easier to ban ALL devices than just the offending types.

And no, you won't bring the aircraft down - you potentially alter navigation data (anything recieved via antenna), albeit very slightly.

MonolithicDawgX
05-01-2003, 04:14 PM
What's the situation with GPS? Anybody know? Ok - I recognise it's receiving rather than sending. But I've seen several articles about people tracking their progress via their own GPS in-flight. If a Gameboy can interfere with electronics - presumably a GPS can too?

I have seen a couple of people be told to turn off GPS devices and were told they were specifically banned. What I never knew is how were those fight attendants so up on their knowledge of systems that they picked them out? I just figured it was like one of the above posts, they just tell people to turn everything off.

From an airline employee's perspective, I would imagine they don't want to take any unnecessary risks, even if it involves false or unproven information.

thomas1973
05-01-2003, 04:23 PM
I am a pilot on a Boeing 767. I have been flying this type of aircraft for 10 years. From what I have seen it is not the radio waves created by wireless devices that have caused any problems, I too have left my cell phone on once or twice. The only consequence would be a ringing phone on takeoff. No problem with landing because the battery would usually be dead from the continuous search by the phone during flight. I did hear a rumor of one pilot getting fired for answering his phone during takeoff while watching the other pilot fly, not a good idea.
The real problem that I have seen on this type of aircraft came during cruise altitude on the North Atlantic routes. We normally use ground radio navigation systems to update an internal ring laser gyros navigation system on the aircraft (very arcaic compared to some systems on some Cessnas). Over the North Atlantic we do not have the ground stations. Normally the internal system is very acurate by itself. Occasionally we will notice a deviation of a mile or two, which is very significant in the North Atlantic airspace. By trying to track down the problem it was observed by some pilots that electronic devices in use in the back of the plane seemed to be a common thread. After asking people to turn off the devices, the correct positon would return.
My favorite story involved a large deviation of the above type. After going back to the cabin to investigate, the pilot saw 5 young boys busily destroying allien invaders on their gameboys. The problem seems to be associated with radio waves created by small devices just being turned on and not to the radio waves broadcast for communication purposes.
Sidelight, expect to be allowed to use your cellphone upon landing, soon. You currently must wait until parked at the gate.
I don't get it... I must say I would really be scared to fly if a 5 year old with a GameBoy could bring the plane down. And if these devices are sooo dangerous, why aren't they banned to even bring aboard an aircraft? And what about an electronic device that's been overlooked for years: The electronic watch!

Of course, it would be impractical to ban all these things, but if they're that dangerous... Will GameBoys now be held back and destroyed in the security check? If not, will the next terrorist attack on a plane be 6 guys playing frenetically on their GameBoys?...

But then again, we've all had our cell phones, PDA's, portable CD players turned on during flight, and also during take off and landing - no harm done. How about showing us some proof that electronic devices really do interfere with aircraft equipment! They're just saying there might be an interference, there might be a connection to your CD player/Gameboy/whatever, so it's safer to just ban it - But very annoying to geeky/music loving/DVD watching/assignment writing people called passengers!

I propose an experiment to settle the matter once and for all. I say we load up an airliner with a bunch of our favourite "test monkeys," like Washington DC bureaucrats, tax collectors, country western singers and proctologists. Then, we give them each a collection of mobile phones, notebook PCs and wireless PDAs, turn all the devices on and set the plane on a transatlantic flight.
I'm very supportive of this idea, and it's a good test setup! However I agree with brent anderson that we also need some lawers onboard.

However, if I was given a new laptop, a new cell phone and a new PDA, h*ll, I'd go myself! :D

Thomas.

danmanmayer
05-01-2003, 04:47 PM
I was just wondering what the problem with the register was?

dlauri
05-01-2003, 04:54 PM
... But very annoying to geeky/music loving/DVD watching/assignment writing people called passengers! ...

Also called customers.

racerx
05-01-2003, 05:01 PM
The FCC currently prohibits the use and operation of cellular telephones while airborne.

Up to that point, I don't have an issue. But I've actually gotten into arguments with flight attendants who insist that I turn off my cell phone AFTER we've landed, but are in queue to get a gate. I've been in situations where we've landed on-time, but it will be 20 minutes before we can actually get to a gate to get off the plane. THIS is the kind of stuff that really burns my britches. I can understand not using your phone while airborne, but what difference does it make whether the door to the plane is open or not (generally the single criteria for allowing use of cellular phones)?

Thus ends my rant.

thomas1973
05-01-2003, 05:18 PM
... But very annoying to geeky/music loving/DVD watching/assignment writing people called passengers! ...

Also called customers.
Right :D

Thomas.

Kirkaiya
05-01-2003, 05:26 PM
This is from http://www.najaco.com/aviation/news/2000/may2000.htm

Britain's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has released a report that recommends continuing the prohibition on the use of cellular telephones aboard commercial airlines. The CAA conducted an engineering study on two different airliners in February, measuring the strength of a simulated cellphone transmission in various parts of the fuselage. The study showed that emissions from the phone could theoretically exceed the susceptibility levels of aircraft equipment, particularly avionics certified to pre-1984 interference standards. The CAA report recommended that airlines consider additional measures to decrease the risks of inadvertent operation of portable telephones, including posting notices in airport departure lounges and at aircraft boarding points reminding passengers to turn off their phones. The report also recommended an evaluation by airlines of on-board equipment that could detect cellphone use, and developing procedures that would ensure the phones are switched off. General aviation operators should also consider the report's findings in light of the much smaller cabins in GA aircraft, often flown with older avionics more susceptible to interference.

So, the Brits at least, believe that pre-1984 airliners are susceptible to interference.

One thing to keep in mind, is that the interference doesn't necessarily have to penetrate the cockpit. On large airliners that don't use fiber-optic cabling (pre-777/A340, I think), rudder and airelon controls run along bundles of copper control-lines that run through the fuselage.

Therefore, you may be sitting just a few feet from the wire carrying the pilot's instructions to control surfaces (granted, there are hydraulic backups for a lot of these sytems, I think, but those are for backup!)

I just read recently that somebody (British Airways?) is putting in plane-wide 802.11b WLANs on select aircraft in a pilot program offereing broadband in-flight. The plane uses a broadband satellite connection, and these are ALREADY in service.

The article I read included a review of the service - the writer reported that using Yahoo with a web-cam resulted in choppy video, but overall, the experience was very good.

Kirkaiya
05-01-2003, 05:29 PM
Okay, it wasn't BA, it was Lufthansa.

Here's the quote (full story at http://www.80211bnews.com/publications/page207-440652.asp )

FRANKFURT, Germany --(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Jan. 15, 2003--
Lufthansa Frankfurt to D.C. Flight Marks Initial
Trials of Cisco Mobility Solution

Passenger trials on the airline industry's first onboard broadband network on a commercial plane begin today with a Boeing 747-400 flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Washington, DC. Operated by Deutsche Lufthansa AG, this pioneering Lufthansa flight offers air travellers high-speed Internet access from the comfort of their own seats.

Connexion By Boeing, a mobile information services provider, is providing the infrastructure that allows two-way-live data between the plane and the ground, with speeds of 3 Mbps downstream and 128 Kbps upstream. Cisco Systems is providing the technology for the onboard network with Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b) compliant wireless connectivity throughout all the cabins and in addition an Ethernet connector in the passenger seats.

garrans
05-01-2003, 05:49 PM
You know until they supply the flight attendants with RF detection equipment the whole argument is a little spurious.

If inadvertently one can send an aircraft off course with RF interference, then its not that far off to suggest that one can do it intentionally.

And if that's the case, then it needs to be fixed (upgraded to post 1984 standards,) because while little johnny might be scared by the flight attendant, some terrorist won't be, and the laptop hiding the RF interference generator will be stuck nice and neat under the seat where its not viewable.

The grassy knoll theorists will tell you that the government has spent a lot of money in developing and testing RF / Microwave weapons that have brought down one of the presidents helicopters.

So shield the equipment !

Pony99CA
05-01-2003, 06:31 PM
Okay, it wasn't BA, it was Lufthansa.

Here's the quote (full story at http://www.80211bnews.com/publications/page207-440652.asp )

Here's another report (http://www.kansas.com/mld/eagle/2003/02/16/business/5191554.htm) of a test Boeing and Intel did in San Francisco.

Steve

szamot
05-01-2003, 08:06 PM
and suddenly you will be able to use all of your electronic toys, not because they are shielded properly but because the airline found a way of charging you for it. Typical.
T

Jonathon Watkins
05-01-2003, 09:31 PM
I was just wondering what the problem with the register was?

Agreed - curious. I enjoy the Reg and find that they are Usually on the money. What's the problem Brad?

atsouch
05-01-2003, 10:32 PM
I was on one of the Lufthansa's flights with broadband internet at the end of March. 34,000 feet above the Atlantic with flight 418 from Frankfurt to Washington (it was a 747). :D

The aircraft was linked via a satellite to the internet (Boeing's Connexion took care of the connection) and it was free! It will be something like Ä30 per flight. Lufthansa was even showing their solution at Cisco's booth at Cebit.

They were advertising a Wifi connection (for all seats - even at Economy!) but they had a technical problem and you could connect via UTP cable at some of the Business and First class seats that had a data port. They were giving us free cables to connect and they also had notebooks that you could use for a couple of hours to test the service. Even though wifi wasn't available, my computer picked up an SSID "flynet" with a signal quality of 92-100% and a signal strength of 67-77%.

A quick broadband speed test (from a web page) showed a connection of 133 kbits and the overall throughput was very very good! Everything was accessible - web browsing, Outlook POP email, telnet and FTP. They say that they even support VPN connections! I used both a notebook and a Jornada 568 with the CF cards. The Wifi card was from Socket.

On the return flight to Frankfurt after a week, all these magnificent capabilities were simply unavailable due to a technical problem! :( I don't know if they were fixing something or they found that there is a problem with the aircraft's electronics...

Will T Smith
05-02-2003, 01:22 AM
Well,

What concerns me about this isn't interfering with instruments. They wouldn't make the proposal unless they'd already tested it. What concerns me is communicating details about flight telemetry OVER unsecured Wi-Fi.

I may seem paranoid or a bit over-the-top in my analysis. However, if I had told you about the problems leading to the 9/11 catastrophe (giving armed terrorists whatever they wanted, not training flight attendents in unarmed combat) you would have called me alarmist.

The threat here is that folks with packet sniffers could listen in to whats going on with the flight. Maybe they could even spoof themselves as a "trusted" node and start faking communications from crew members. How could this be exploited?

"Captain, we have an in flight situation. We need to know which passenger is the air-marshall". - hint: the air marshall is the one with a weapon. Why sneak a weapon on to a plane.

"Captain, we have a situation with a violent passenger. We can't handle him. Please send the co-pilot back with his side arm to subdue him?" - hint: The FAA (VERY STUPIDELY) is now allowing pilots to carry firearms on flights. Why would they carry these weapons if they have no intention of leaving the now locked and sealed cockpits.

Tackle and subdue the co-pilot before he locks the door behing him. Take his weapon, put it to the pilots head (who cant really draw his firearm because HE'S BUSY FLYING THE PLANE!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Think I'm paranoid? Hell, how could plastic box-cutters be exploited?

Is it possible to secure Wi-Fi traffic via VPN connections? Yes. Do you think the airlines would spend the extra money? In my opinion ... NO. Security doesn't sell tickets. Kung-Fu flight attendants don't sell tickets, in flight meals sell tickets. In other words they don't give a rat's ass about how safe you are. They only care about collecting your money. If they cared about your safety and security 9/11 would NEVER have happened.

This type of proposal is disturbing to me because there's almost 100% certainty that THEY WON'T DO IT RIGHT!!!!!!!

Steven Cedrone
05-02-2003, 03:14 AM
"Captain, we have a situation with a violent passenger. We can't handle him. Please send the co-pilot back with his side arm to subdue him?" - hint: The FAA (VERY STUPIDELY) is now allowing pilots to carry firearms on flights. Why would they carry these weapons if they have no intention of leaving the now locked and sealed cockpits.

Not quite sure how to respond to this, so I'll just jump in...

A terrorist could do that before, just pick up the bulkhead phone...

I doubt it if any cockpit crew will ever open the door to the cockpit of a passenger plane again, I think we learned our lesson...

I feel a hell of a lot better knowing the cockpit crew can defend the cockpit if need be, most are veterans and know how to use a weapon anyway...

No one will ever be able to take a plane with a butter knife again, we were not prepared for what was going to happen, I don't think it will happen again...

Just my .02...

Steve

Pony99CA
05-02-2003, 06:59 AM
I doubt it if any cockpit crew will ever open the door to the cockpit of a passenger plane again, I think we learned our lesson...
Yeah, but it's kind of sad. In June 2001, just slightly over three months before 9/11, I got this picture on a 747 in New Delhi. I doubt that will happen for a long time, if ever. (I got another one of me sitting with the pilots, but I look like crap. :-))

Steve

http://steve.svvg.biz/747Cockpit-1.jpg

Janak Parekh
05-02-2003, 05:11 PM
"Captain, we have an in flight situation. We need to know which passenger is the air-marshall". - hint: the air marshall is the one with a weapon. Why sneak a weapon on to a plane.
I suspect, but may be entirely wrong, that they wouldn't discuss this. You could have overheard the attendants talking about it before, in person. Does anyone know how the air marshals are contacted?

--janak

Steven Cedrone
05-02-2003, 05:22 PM
Does anyone know how the air marshals are contacted?

I wouldn't think they would need to be contacted. I would tend to think they act autonomously, only intervening when necessary (I'm sure they place them where they can watch the cockpit, etc.)...

Steve

EcS
05-02-2003, 09:00 PM
Just released on Cnet (http://rss.com.com/2100-1039_3-999541.html?type=pt&part=rss&tag=feed&subj=news) here's an official government study that seems to prove that cell phones at least, DO affect aircraft systems. Of interest are the pilot comments toward the end of the story.