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Personal Electronics May Indeed Disrupt Avionics 505

Posted by timothy
from the so-we'll-sell-you-wifi-service dept.
mattrwilliams writes "There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence that points to personal electronics being a real issue on board planes. Dave Carson of Boeing, the co-chair of a federal advisory committee that investigated the problem of electronic interference from portable devices, says that PEDs radiate signals that can hit and disrupt highly sensitive electronic sensors hidden in the plane's passenger area, including those for an instrument landing system used in bad weather."
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Personal Electronics May Indeed Disrupt Avionics

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  • ...really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chemicaldave (1776600) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @01:39PM (#36390822)

    There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence

    Need I say more?

    • Re:...really? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @01:45PM (#36390914)

      Have you seen how heavily shielded the cables and connections for PDAs and other PEDs are in US military aircraft?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:E-8_crewmembers.JPG [wikipedia.org]

      Thats what you need to keep avionics from being disrupted and vice versa according to the DoD, they've done a lot of testing on that stuff over the last 30 years.

      • Re:...really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by chemicaldave (1776600) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @01:55PM (#36391114)
        Disrupted from cell phones or enemy weapons designed to disrupt?
        • by jd (1658)

          There's a difference? One glance at the relative economies of China and the US convinces me that cell phones are weapons that are extremely effective at disrupting.

        • Re:...really? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Chris Snook (872473) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @03:11PM (#36392290)

          An aircraft body is basically a faraday cage. Internal sources of radiation are many orders of magnitude more disruptive for their power level.

          • by hazem (472289)

            Well, then it seems to me the airlines should be doing something to fix it besides just trying to ban electronic equipment. If a plane can truly be put into peril with a small battery-powered transmitter then it's not going to take long for the Bad Guys(TM) to figure out how to use that as a weapon.

            I hope this is not going to be another unlocked cockpit door problem where hijackings could have been easily prevented by putting a strong lock on the cockpit doors.

            The airlines and the FAA can try to ban PEDs a

      • This is what I don't understand. With all the discussions over this, how has this not been fully tested and answered? How can we not have a definitive answer by now? And if it has been answered, why it is still being debated?

        • Re:...really? (Score:5, Informative)

          by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @02:12PM (#36391388) Homepage

          This is what I don't understand. With all the discussions over this, how has this not been fully tested and answered? How can we not have a definitive answer by now? And if it has been answered, why it is still being debated?

          Because .. testing every possible consumer electronics device which might end up on an aircraft, against all the possible aircraft, and all of the possible variations of an aircraft is damned near impossible.

          Some aircraft have been in production for a long time (I think over 40 years for the 747). It's got a whole boatload of variations, and has been tweaked, updated, and re-arranged by different carriers over the years. It's got different generations of avionics, in-flight systems, entertainment systems ... and who knows what else. I've seen the inside of a 747 when it was stripped down to an empty shell ... it's got literally miles of wiring.

          Now, think about all of the different models of aircraft in the world. You would need to test 'em all.

          I get the impression to be able to definitively say that no aircraft could ever be affected by this, you'd need to do testing of every possible emission from the device to coincide with every possible state of the aircraft ... and some of those interferences might be intermittent or not 100% repeatable, or might be compounded by other factors they can't anticipate.

          I don't think anybody has the resources to rule it out ... so they've erred on the side of safety. The sheer cost of trying to test this extensively would be enormous.

          And, really, unlike the pharma industry which waits until you can prove that something is causing harm before they pull it, the airline industry is waiting for proof that it doesn't cause harm before they allow it.

          • So, why can't they show it/test it for at least ONE plane. Heck, put all the currently shipping PED's on the plane and get actual proof one way or another. Or fill a plane with people, giving every person the highest radiative device currently shipping, and see if there's any interference. They don't have to do EVERY plane. But how about start with ONE plane, at a maximum conditions for PED radiation.

            But when they only have anecdotal evidence - from the head of Boeing - it just comes off as FUD.
            It's not

          • Re:...really? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Cytotoxic (245301) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @02:34PM (#36391748)

            We do this test every day. On any aircraft of reasonable size, there are at least a dozen cell phones not in the off position during takeoff and landing. Probably more. Most of these jets carry a hundred or more people. Nearly 100% of people carry some sort of electronic devise. Anyone here work in IT? Care to guess how many of your normal users will follow instructions? Does anyone seriously believe they get much north of 90% compliance with the "all electronics must be in the off position" request under the best circumstances? How many rings, pings, and update sounds do you hear on final approach when you come in low enough for the cell signal to connect? I hear so many I don't even notice anymore.

            If this were a truly serious problem, we'd have planes dropping out of the sky like rain. I couldn't say that there isn't a potential for a problem. I can say that the risk must be very, very small.

            • by Rary (566291)

              If this were a truly serious problem, we'd have planes dropping out of the sky like rain. I couldn't say that there isn't a potential for a problem. I can say that the risk must be very, very small.

              The thing is, they're not claiming that it is a truly serious problem, or that the risk is anything other than very, very small. In fact, they highlight only 75 incidents (note: "incident" is a specific aviation term that is differentiated from "accident") that may, or may not, have been attributed to personal electronic devices.

              So, while you're correct in saying that we do this test every day, it's also true that the tests don't show 100% success. There are certain cases, however rare, where these devices

              • by shmlco (594907)

                And yet pilots are beginning to carry iPads onto the flight deck to cut down on 50-lb flight bags, and airlines are stuffing planes full of seatback LCD screens and onboard WiFi systems.

                Parent is right. We test this a thousand times each and every day, on every flight. Have we had ONE serious incident? Lost ONE single plane attributed to a consumer electronics device? No and no.

      • by rabbit994 (686936)

        It's also possible their systems are shielded to handle EMP bursts and all sorts of other craziness that you wouldn't experience on commercial flight.Not to mention E-8 and E-3 are hauling around huge radars that pump out alot of energy. Finally, I would imagine alot of shielding is to protect the devices from said radar coming from airplane instead of protecting the plane from the devices.

      • I'm thinking, that's what you need to keep avionics from being disrupted in a combat situation.
      • Re:...really? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by AJH16 (940784) <aj@IIIgccafe.com minus threevowels> on Thursday June 09, 2011 @02:06PM (#36391302) Homepage

        That's a nice image, but it's a standard rugadized pda. You can find similar hardware for doing work in factory environments and such where you potentially need to protect the electronics from more abuse than your average consumer electronics are designed to take. It really has nothing to do with preventing interference.

      • Re:...really? (Score:4, Informative)

        by WillAdams (45638) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @02:18PM (#36391486) Homepage

        Actually, that's more about meeting TEMPEST requirements so as to not emit a signal from which an enemy can derive useful information. Hardening of the avionics is a different thing, and not something one will readily find an image of.

        William

        • by blair1q (305137)

          No indication that anything in that pic is TEMPEST rated. Just looks like a lot of rubber around what may be a fat bundle of skinny little wires.

          Besides which, there are no safety standards for military gear; at least, not as such. Military aircraft don't have to follow the standards that the FAA specifies for commercial aircraft (DO-178B, DO-254, etc.)

          The question here is, okay, so what? They measured ERP for a few PEDs. Does that signal have any way to be coupled to the actual equipment they're worried

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @01:51PM (#36391020)

      There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence

      Need I say more?

      Actually, yes. How about something regarding consequences? Say 100+ people in a fragile machine, surround by flammable liquids, moving at a high rate of speed and doing so with limited to no visibility outside the machine having a "mishap" because someone had to check twitter? There are some activities where an excess of caution is warranted, personally I believe that needing to use an ***instrument landing system because of bad weather*** is one such activity.

      • by chispito (1870390)
        So what you're saying is, "Gee, flying planes is hard."

        Why not also establish some empirical basis for the policy?

        There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence

        Need I say more?

        Actually, yes. How about something regarding consequences? Say 100+ people in a fragile machine, surround by flammable liquids, moving at a high rate of speed and doing so with limited to no visibility outside the machine having a "mishap" because someone had to check twitter? There are some activities where an excess of caution is warranted, personally I believe that needing to use an ***instrument landing system because of bad weather*** is one such activity.

        • by perpenso (1613749)

          So what you're saying is, "Gee, flying planes is hard."

          Why not also establish some empirical basis for the policy?

          Actually I'm saying that flying planes is dangerous, and that given that *many* lives are at risk the burden of proof should be that a device needs to be proven safe, not that it needs to be proven hazardous.

          There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence

          Need I say more?

          Actually, yes. How about something regarding consequences? Say 100+ people in a fragile machine, surround by flammable liquids, moving at a high rate of speed and doing so with limited to no visibility outside the machine having a "mishap" because someone had to check twitter? There are some activities where an excess of caution is warranted, personally I believe that needing to use an ***instrument landing system because of bad weather*** is one such activity.

          • by Microlith (54737)

            the burden of proof should be that a device needs to be proven safe, not that it needs to be proven hazardous.

            Perhaps you should stop making up panicky, ridiculous statements like "the machine having a "mishap" because someone had to check twitter" and come up with something more sensible and, as the GP noted, based on empirical evidence instead of anecdotal evidence.

            If personal electronics carried by a passenger are a threat to avionics, then the problem is in how the plane is constructed. Otherwise they'l

            • by perpenso (1613749)

              the burden of proof should be that a device needs to be proven safe, not that it needs to be proven hazardous.

              Perhaps you should stop making up panicky, ridiculous statements like "the machine having a "mishap" because someone had to check twitter" and come up with something more sensible and, as the GP noted, based on empirical evidence instead of anecdotal evidence.

              Your statement seems to dodge the issue that many lives are at risk and that this should shift the burden of proof. In other areas where lives are on the line the burden of prove is to prove safety, why not here? Why not require the scientific evidence to demonstrate that the device are safe?

              If personal electronics carried by a passenger are a threat to avionics, then the problem is in how the plane is constructed.

              Even if true, and given that the planes and avionics were designed before the devices in question existed this may be the case, however what is the remedy? Ban the airplane/avionics or ban the device during landing?

            • by bws111 (1216812)

              It doesn't really matter if the problem is the way the plane is constructed or the devices themselves. The fact is, there can be interference (yes, I do trust an Associate Technical Fellow at Boeing more than random slashdotters). So now the question is: what to do about it?

              Option 1 is to refit all the planes currently in use so they are not susceptible to interference. Since the airlines are already teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, and the flying public has shown no taste at all for increased fares

      • Anecdotal evidence, by it's definition, is incompatible with science. Scientific evidence is needed in this situation.
      • by rthille (8526)

        Picture one person on the plane with a device designed to interfere with the avionics. The device looks like a cell phone, but when turned "off", it really goes into "interfere mode". This is why I see it as idiotic that the avionics aren't hardened well enough to deal with unintentional interference from devices designed to minimize interference...

      • by javelinco (652113)

        Actually, yes. How about something regarding consequences? Say 100+ people in a fragile machine, surround by flammable liquids, moving at a high rate of speed and doing so with limited to no visibility outside the machine having a "mishap" because someone had to check twitter? There are some activities where an excess of caution is warranted, personally I believe that needing to use an ***instrument landing system because of bad weather*** is one such activity.

        Here's the problem with this reasoning. Much work has been done to prove a connection using scientific methods. The answer? Nope - not a problem - but let's keep looking, because, as you said, this is dangerous and important. And you say "Screw the science - anecdotal is good enough - cause it is dangerous!" Well, I'm sorry, but just because a friend of mine swears that genetically altered food contains arsenic because he got sick once, and was told he had food poisoning after eating an apple, doesn't

        • by perpenso (1613749)

          Actually, yes. How about something regarding consequences? Say 100+ people in a fragile machine, surround by flammable liquids, moving at a high rate of speed and doing so with limited to no visibility outside the machine having a "mishap" because someone had to check twitter? There are some activities where an excess of caution is warranted, personally I believe that needing to use an ***instrument landing system because of bad weather*** is one such activity.

          Here's the problem with this reasoning. Much work has been done to prove a connection using scientific methods. The answer? Nope - not a problem - but let's keep looking, because, as you said, this is dangerous and important. And you say "Screw the science - anecdotal is good enough - cause it is dangerous!" Well, I'm sorry, but just because a friend of mine swears that genetically altered food contains arsenic because he got sick once, and was told he had food poisoning after eating an apple, doesn't mean it's something to freak out about - even though food poisoning is dangerous, and yes, it's possible he could have died.

          The pitot tubes on certain Airbus aircraft were heavily tested using scientific methods and found to be safe. Reports of problems were probably considered anecdotal by some. Yet we eventually had a catastrophic loss of life where we found that the scientific methods employed failed to uncover a design flaw.

          Your analogy is also severely flawed. Eating is a necessity. Using a handheld device during landing is not.

    • by The Moof (859402)
      Is there some good reason we shouldn't test against this? It's possible the people who originally did the tests didn't create the circumstances these anecdotes suggest. I'd rather be safe than sorry, but that's just me and my flying preference.
    • TFS is not summarizing TFA. Is it also because it links to TFA's page 2?

      Proper link: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/safe-cellphone-plane/story?id=13791569 [go.com]

      Proper excerpt:

      Asked if a cellphone's signal could really be that powerful, Carson said, "It is when it goes in the right place at the right time."

      To prove his point, Carson took ABC News inside Boeing's electronic test chamber in Seattle, where engineers demonstrated the hidden signals from several electronic devices that were well over what Boeing considers the acceptable limit for aircraft equipment. A Blackberry and an iPhone were both over the limit, but the worst offender was an iPad. There are still doubters, including ABC News's own aviation expert, John Nance.

      "There is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there, but it's not evidence at all," said Nance, a former Air Force and commercial pilot. "It's pilots, like myself, who thought they saw something but they couldn't pin it to anything in particular. And those stories are not rampant enough, considering 32,000 flights a day over the U.S., to be convincing."

    • by FatAlb3rt (533682)
      Good thing the flight crew can verify that your device is off.... because there's nothing on the screen.
    • by blair1q (305137)

      If it grows enough it becomes statistical evidence.

      The question is, how many crashes do you want before you'll believe a correlation exists?

    • The more than needs to be said is, "the anecdotal evidence justifies a continued caution about the use of these devices, and provides a basis for following up with real research."

  • Fiberoptics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ranger (1783) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @01:41PM (#36390854) Homepage
    If planes switched to fiber optics and got rid of copper wiring I'm sure that would reduce the likelihood of interference. I can hardly wait for the day people will be able to use their cell phones on those long haul flights.
    • by bkr1_2k (237627)

      Actually many of them are already fiber optic. Certainly not all but more and more every year.

      • by kidgenius (704962)
        No. No they are not. Passenger jets still use wire cabling for communications buses. Even new ones (B787) still use copper.
    • I can hardly wait for the day people will be able to use their cell phones on those long haul flights.

      As a daily train commuter, whose most hated sound is someone shouting "NO, I'VE GOT PLENTY OF TIME, I'M ON THE TRAIN!" into their cellphone, I can only warn you to be really, really careful what you wish for.

      • by Ranger (1783)
        I've already experienced a REALLY LOUD PERSON talking on a train. The car didn't have that many passengers and we were about to move to another car when he ended the call.
  • Easy Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArhcAngel (247594) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @01:42PM (#36390862)
    A couple of coats of lead based paint will take care of that.
  • And (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Osgeld (1900440) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @01:43PM (#36390884)

    These planes can take direct lightning hits but the sensors cant handle a cell signal that's going to be there weather the phone is off or not?

    does not compute

    • Re:And (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xiph1980 (944189) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @01:48PM (#36390958)
      What's your point? Those are two entirely different things.
      Some appliances can handle a firehose spraying directly at them, but break when subjected to water vapor.. Just as related, actually, no even more related.
    • A human has no problems touching the terminals of an AA battery, but applying the same battery to the heart can cause cardiac arrest and death. Did you have an actual point?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09, 2011 @01:47PM (#36390948)

    I was told by people on the internet that this cannot possibly happen, so this expert from an actual aircraft manufacturer must be wrong.

    • I was too! I had to look it up immediately after the pilot informed us all that we need to turn off our cell phones. I just didn't believe that someone with years of experience and training could be smarter than the internets.
    • by blair1q (305137)

      How could anyone on the internet tell you anything? You're anonymous. We have no way to get the information to you.

  • C'mon... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jra (5600) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @01:48PM (#36390960)

    ILS receiver antennas aren't "hidden inside the passenger compartment".

    They're "attached to the outside of the friggin airframe".

    Any story that gets the details that wrong, that fast, receives no credence at all. And if airplanes are having this much trouble with my 2mw iPad, what the *hell* are they doing about getting hit by 2GW of lightning?

    (And don't tell me "Faraday cage"; that protects the occupants, but not necessarily the things connected to antennas outside the cage.)

    • Re:C'mon... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09, 2011 @01:58PM (#36391164)

      Correction. A bolt of lightning is only 1.21 GW.

    • Re:C'mon... (Score:5, Informative)

      by couchslug (175151) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @02:05PM (#36391290)

      I'm not impressed by the story itself, but do note that ILS testers are operated from INSIDE the aircraft. I've done plenty of ILS ops checks as a Comm/Nav weenie in the USAF.

      The airframe doesn't block the signal enough to matter.

      Since my being entertained in-flight is of no importance, I leave my electronic gear off when flying and sleep/nap through the trip.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      Assuming the sensor isn't destroyed by the lightning, the EM radiation from a lightning strike that would cause interference is short-lived. It probably does cause interference with a number of sensors, but only for a short time. If a personal electronic device is causing interference, that interference is likely to persist for the entire flight.

  • As i was told in mid 90 by my electromagnetism teacher, the problem is not the miriad of (then) walkmans and cd player used in the plane. Those are more or less certified for electromagnetic compatibility. The problem are the crappy chinese electronics that don't pass any test and the one in a million "certified" hardware that is faulty. So, do you prefer listen your music and risk your life in an emergency situation or forbid them all just in case?

    And speaking of statistics, in this case "anecdotal eviden
    • You had an electromagnetism teacher? That's seriously specific (I was taught that by my adjective teacher).
    • by stewbee (1019450)
      Reminds me of when I took my electromagnetics class. The professor had brought his daughter's tickle me Elmo doll into class. I don't remember what device it was that he had, possibly it was his car's remote key entry system remote, but when he click one of the buttons, he was able to make the tickle me Elmo doll activate and start laughing. This would probably be one of you million to one examples, but I think the crux is the same. If someone doesn't design properly, or well for EMI, then stuff like this c
      • I'm sure hoping that planes are designed with a FEW more electrical considerations that a tickle me elmo doll. So that stuff like that DOESN'T happen.

  • Seriously? "Anectdotal"?

    This isn't the Middle Ages here, and there are lives at stake. If someone seriously believes there is a safety issue here, there must be scientific studies to show what is going on one way or another.

    • Studies cost money. Everything costs money. With a finite amount of money, you prioritize. And this isn't a big enough problem to warrant spending money studing. So instead of paying a bunch of test engineers to undertake a bunch of tests (which to be useful would have to be re-run on practically every aircraft configuration), you hire one guy to look at the anectdotal evidence. Best case, your studies would prevent a couple of crashes over the span of a human lifetime, saving a few hundred lives. Muc
      • Studies cost money. Everything costs money. With a finite amount of money, you prioritize. And this isn't a big enough problem to warrant spending money studing.

        Seriously? The number that a casual Google search shows is about 28,000 commercial flights a day. Multiply that by a conservative 75 people a flight and you get at least 2,100,000 people taking a flight per day, just in the US . You think that doesn't warrant an all-out investigation to resolve the questions involved in a methodical and scientific manner, regardless of the cost?

        Perhaps the airlines are more interested in monetizing the use of said devices and the studies would possibly show something di

        • We don't know whether the presence of ragweed near an airport causes a significant increase in the rate of accidents. We also don't have any anecdotal evidence that it does. There's no basis for research - yet. But if a couple anecdotes start to circulate, it may actually point to something that deserves research.

          Also, in this case, the GP has a point. It may actually make more sense to trust the anecdotal evidence than do a rigorous study, because of the cost of a rigorous study: the mild inconveniences of

  • I cannot see how the planes can get FAA certification if this is true. either the tests are not appropriate. or they are not being conducted properly. Which is it? Enquiring minds want to know!
  • I call bullshit. These instruments are TEMPEST shielded to such a degree it's ridiculous. Personal devices also don't emit with enough power (unless modified) to affect anything further than a couple of feet away from them.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      Cell phones emit enough power to induce measurable currents in the cell tower they're connected to, which is usually more than a couple feet away.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09, 2011 @02:01PM (#36391226)

    I had always been suspicious of the reality of small electronics and avionics interference, but now I have some first hand experience--I fly a small airplane (a Decathlon). Granted, it has much different RF characteristics than a large airliner. Like most airplanes, it is equipped with a transponder that encodes the airplane's altitude and transmits it when the air traffic control radar paints the airplane. Sometimes when my iPhone is turned on in the airplane, the altitude reported by my transponder varies wildly by several thousands of feet, and air traffic control tells me they are getting spurious signals. One day when this was happening, I thought ah heck and I turn off the phone, and the transponder settled down. I turned it back on, and the transponder started going wonky again. I've reproduced this on a few different days and most days with no issues with the phone turned on. I'd say it's 20% bad/80% good. I haven't figured out what conditions cause this to happen or not--could be poor equipment installation. Anyone else with actual experience of something like this happening?

  • by bughunter (10093) <bughunter@noSPaM.earthlink.net> on Thursday June 09, 2011 @02:03PM (#36391258) Journal

    As an engineer who designs and integrates RF systems every day, all day, I have two impressions. And as a systems engineer, I'll describe them in terms of the two elements of risk: probability and impact.

    FTFA: "In other events described in the report, a clock spun backwards and a GPS in cabin read incorrectly while two laptops were being used nearby."

    First: Crap like that ain't supposed to happen. An airplane designed and built to standards for commercial passenger service must meet standards for electromagnetic susceptibility, interference tolerance, workmanship, etc. It's not the passengers' fault that things like that happen. Nor is it the direct fault of the manufacturer of the electronics that passengers carry. If something is that mission critical, and the cost of failure is measured in human lives, then engineers, inspectors, regulators, and operations crew damn well better make sure the likelihood of failure is as close to zero as can be.

    Second: I know damn well that grounding and shielding is one of the most difficult aspects of any high-frequency electronics system. It's difficult to design, grounding and shielding design rules aren't generally taught as part of undergraduate EE curriculum (much less Aeromechanical, CS, etc.), and the manufacturing techniques are prone to failure and not easy to inspect and test. Therefore, statistically, a passenger that travels one or two times a year is likely to board a plane with a design flaw or manufacturing/maintenance flaw at some point in their lifetime. This doesn't mean they're going to notice it, or even have any effect on the flight, much less cause an emergency by forgetting a powered-up iPhone in their carryon. But the likelihood of failure will never be zero unless the passenger obeys the rules and turns off their devices.

    So, turn your shit off when so instructed.

    And consumer electronics designers: please give the consumer a switch that allows them to turn their shit off... not standby, but OFF.

    • by TheLink (130905)

      grounding and shielding design rules aren't generally taught as part of undergraduate EE curriculum

      If the shielding isn't good enough, the chances of grounding go way up ;).

    • by bananaendian (928499) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @03:12PM (#36392304) Homepage Journal

      Here we go again, every couple of years an article relating to avionics interference shows up in slashdot and I have to come out of my cave to save the world...

      Here is something I wrote [slashdot.org] back in 2006 about this same issue.

      Just because you are 'an engineer' who 'works with RF' doesn't mean you know tiddly about avionics. I actually work at an avionics lab and repair and test these devices and have actually measured RF interference of avionics systems, both on the ground and in the air. Its my job.

      As a fellow engineer I could give you a 5 minute brief on how the ILS system works, another 15 to go through explaining all the board level receiver circuits, data busses and another 20 to go throught the navigation computer and autopilot at block diagram level - and afterwards you'd be rolling on the floor laughing to the very idea of a passenger ipod being able to interfere with 'the ILS system'... unfortunately my superiors are hunting me down to lock me back to my cave now.

      For others see what I wrote [slashdot.org] about Ultracrepidarianism [wikipedia.org]

  • To me this just means that Boeing engineers need to do a better job of shielding their sensors. The world has advanced, people have such devices and flights are getting longer. I dont want to use/pay for the crappy entertainment system on the plane. I want to use my own. I understand that this might not be the priority for them right now, but it needs to happen sometime soon.
  • On a recent Delta flight from Orlando to Minneapolis, I had the pleasure to sit next to a Delta employee on the same trip. He didn't even bother turning his iPhone on airplane mode.. in fact he was checking his email during takeoff and landing.

    I kept hoping and waiting for his phone to ring during flight.

  • Like these: http://www.jeppesen.com/main/corporate/microsites/jeppesen-mobile-tc/ [jeppesen.com]

    "The authorization process noted by the FAA allows the operator to use iPad and the Jeppesen Mobile TC App as the sole reference for electronic charts, even during taxi, takeoff and landing. "

  • They've been lying about this for years. Let's use a little common sense to figure out the truth, here:

    First, probably 90% of the people on every plane have one or more devices. Laptops, game devices, tablets, phones, and so on.

    Second, there are several thousand flights in the US every single day.

    Third, just because they say "turn off your devices" doesn't mean people do. In fact, I know people who intentionally don't turn their devices off, just as a personal point of spite.

    Fourth, if these were a problem,

  • Ever heard of shielding, Boeing? Seriously.

    If this were actually that bad of a threat, don't you think TSA/DHS would have adjusted their policies regarding PEDs onboard? Give me a break. Chances are they're crying wolf so they can try and secure a few billion in funding to upgrade all of their aircraft wiring and shielding under the guise of "homeland security", so taxpayers can somehow pay for it instead of the "poor starving" airlines.

    Oh, and pay no attention to the terrorists lurking here taking notes

  • If there is or may be a problem, then develop a standard for both the electronic device maker and the navigation system maker can work with. I'm sick and tired of airplane makers saying that everyone must shut down all possible electronic devices or the airplane will crash into the ocean Does that include pace makers? How about artificial limbs that are electrically powered? Navigation systems should be defined to work with a given amount of noise on various frequency bands. It is not reasonable in today's

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