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U.S. orders airlines to replace cockpit displays on 1,300 Boeing airplanes

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is requiring airlines to replace cockpit displays on more than 1,300 Boeing Co airplanes to avoid interference from Wi-Fi and cellular devices. Airlines will need to replace certain cockpit display units made by Honeywell International Inc used on Boeing's 737 and 777 jets within five years, according to an FAA document. (finance.yahoo.com) Mehr...

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Bernie20910
Bernie Behling 17
"The displays are also susceptible to transmissions from mobile phones, weather radar and mobile satellite communications, the FAA said." I'm sorry, these are not new technologies. Honeywell should never have been caught with their pants down like this. Before they ever entered production the designs should have been tested for interference from the RF spectrum and corrective measures taken at that time. Honeywell, and to a lesser extent Boeing, should be bearing the brunt of the cost of this refit.
jkudlick
Jeremy Kudlick 8
I agree this should be treated the same way automobile recalls are treated - the manufacturer bears the cost of the recall.
KennyFlys
Ken Lane 3
Ouch! This will be an expensive fix. John says "$10,000" a piece and the article says $14 Million in total. That probably doesn't come close to the loss of aircraft out of service.

I'm rather surprised this has not come up before. The real question is... how did Honeywell not test for RFI during design??? These things should withstand about everything short of EMI from a nuclear explosion.

I briefly read through this:
https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2014-23231.pdf

The cost still isn't cheap unless they can work this into normal downtime for inspections. If I understood it correctly, they are allowing sixty months for compliance.
eandrade1424
Ed Andrade 4
Hummm...... maybe this is why there was the rule about turning off all electronic devices and such? Just saying...
pdixonj
pdixonj 2
I guess the FAA finally decided that just having a "no wifi" placard in the flight deck didn't quite go far enough to addressing this problem.
FritzSteiner
Fritz Steiner 3
Call me old fashioned if you like -- don't call me late for supper, though -- but how on earth did civilization (and airline passengers) ever manage to get by WITHOUT Wi-Fi for most of history?

If Wi-Fi interferes with cockpit displays there should be no reason to make the airlines/manufacturers have to replace them with Wi-Fi-proof ones-- and pass the cost along to you-know-who.

The solution is obvious and simple:

THE USE OF WI-FI AND ASSOCIATED ELECTRONIC DEVICES IS NOT ALLOWED IN THIS AIRCRAFT AT ANY TIME

Passengers can get along without Wi-Fi for the duration of their flights -- just as smokers somehow manage to get along with out cigarette, cigars, and pipes.
KennyFlys
Ken Lane 4
Wifi is not just a benefit to customers. It's also a revenue stream to airlines. I'd bet a quite lucrative revenue stream.

SWA used to be $5.00 for a connection all day long for one or more connections. Now, it's $8.00. I doubt the cost went up that significantly.
Bernie20910
Bernie Behling 3
Well, they didn't call them the "Dark Ages" for nothing...

Seriously though, I'm sure that just prohibiting WiFi will solve the problem, because passengers ALWAYS obey every rule and regulation. So, WiFi off, check, cellphones off, check, satellite comms, ummm... weather radar, oh...

/sarcasm
btweston
btweston 3
Like people won't pull their phones out and play with them anyway...
FritzSteiner
Fritz Steiner 0
Do passengers who're smokers still do it? NO.


Those that try to smoke are gonna miss their connection while chatting with the uniformed reception committee that'll meet them after their current flight lands.

The vast majority of passengers comply with smoke free flights -- without complaint. Passengers can get along without WiFi, too -- at least, until somebody claims WiFi to be a right.
Bernie20910
Bernie Behling 0
Actually, there are already places where internet access is stipulated to be a right, so that day isn't far off.

As to your smoking analogy, sorry, that doesn't compare since, barring setting the aircraft on fire, smoking has no effect whatsoever on the safe operation of the aircraft. Blanking out or otherwise interfering with the instrumentation, on the other hand, surely does. Also, it's quite easy for the cabin crew to pinpoint who is smoking. Just follow the smell and the smoke. Try figuring out which one of the pax has their Wi-Fi or cellphone turned on, because the warning sign was not in the language they speak, or because they can't read, or because they forgot, or thought it was off, or thought it was in airplane mode, or thought the signs were just BS because they read something on the Internet that said otherwise, or because "just a little" won't hurt anything, or simply because they're an entitled a-hole who feels such things shouldn't apply to someone like them.

Meanwhile, as the cabin crew tries to narrow it down, you can't exactly pull over to the side of the road and wait.

And then, after every single pax has been searched, and every single device disabled, it turns out to have been caused by weather radar. Or a device still powered up in someone's checked bags. Or one of any of hundreds of thousands of other possible sources of RFI, including cosmic radiation and solar flares.

Let's also not forget that there's new displays available that are shielded properly and don't have this problem. So while airline A goes through all of the above, because they didn't upgrade their displays, airline B, who did upgrade and who offers WiFi, get's a large portion of airline A's customers.

Nah, what am I thinking... OF COURSE your solution is the correct one Fritz. Just forget all those pesky little flaws it it.
FritzSteiner
Fritz Steiner 0
Bernie:

I don't know why you've elected to ridicule me, especially since you're so vulnerable to ridicule yourself.

My smoking analogy applies perfectly to PASSENGER behavior, Bernie, not instrumentation interference that may be caused by WiFi.

Passengers who're smokers manage to get along just fine without smoking for 14, 15 hours on long distance flights. Passengers who're WiFi-addicted can get along without it, too. In any event, most modern passenger planes larger than commuter types have onboard entertainment systems. The WiFi-deprived can use them as a palliative.

Ever see those signs with a "/" across a circle containing a symbol for something like a cigarette or a directional sign inside? They're internationally understood and they're EVERYWHERE, Bernie.

Methinks you have way, way too much time on your hands, but correspondingly, very little of consequence with which to fill it.

Btw, congratulations are in order. Your Rube Goldberg scenario's second sentence is a breathtakingly long 89-word run-on sentence. That's got to be a FlightAware record. Well doneI Like most run-ons, though, it's a collection of disjointed "thoughts" that render it confusing, at best.

What were you thinking? Looks you were thinking you're smart and witty. Unfortunately -- for you -- your commentary demonstrates that you aren't either.

Bye !!
Bernie20910
Bernie Behling 1
When you paint a target on yourself by posting such a ridiculous solution to a problem, do you really need to ask, "Why me?" Apparently so. The problem already has a solution, one not dependent upon passenger compliance with a new rule that would only apply on some carriers, or some aircraft, while on other aircraft and other carriers pax were encouraged to do just the opposite. WiFi access aboard aircraft is a revenue stream for the carriers that provide it, and travel today is all about getting as much revenue as possible from the pax.
FritzSteiner
Fritz Steiner -1
Bernie: When you begin a response by characterizing what another poster has proposed as " … such a ridiculous solution…" because you disagree with it, you expose yourself as the first class jerk that you are.

My solution was offered because I believe it would work. You chose to ridicule it -- and me in the process

I don't give a rat's whether it might infinitesimally reduce a carrier's revenue stream.

As a matter of fact, business travelers who feel so self important that can't "put it down"for a few hours are annoying as hell. Sit next to one of 'em and maybe you'll see what I mean. I feel the same way about cell phone users who shut out the rest of the world while they loudly provide one half of their conversations or just can't wait to text message with someone on the ground.

But then again, you wouldn't have to sit next to one of 'em because you're probably one of 'em.

Do you really have to ask yourself why you're a jerk, Bernie? Nope. All you have to do is look in the mirror.
Bernie20910
Bernie Behling 2
Just because you believe something does not make it any less ridiculous. There are people who honestly believe that our planet's leaders have been replaced by a disguised race of space lizards. I would also point out to you Fritz that there is a difference between ridiculing you and ridiculing your idea. I have done my best to keep personal attacks out of this conversation, and restrict it to a discussion of your proposed solution, as that is in keeping with the topic. You, on the other hand, seem so wedded to your idea that you see any rebuttal of it as an attack upon yourself, and respond with personal attacks and name calling, rather than intelligent discussion. And you call me a jerk? What an odd and distorted little world you must live in!
AABABY
AABABY 1
Stop it! Both of you.
Bernie20910
Bernie Behling 2
Stop what, Frank? The discussion of the topic? Or the childish name calling and personal attacks from Fritz?
AABABY
AABABY 1
Bernie:The childish arguing/ debate. The subject is the replacement of cocpit displays. Not passenger perks or whatever.
I interpreted the article as being related to cockpit wi-fi and cellphone use.
And I think Fritz is 'baiting'you just to get you angry.
I think your protaganist is getting the down votes here, so why not just drop it?
Happy trails to you.
KennyFlys
Ken Lane 1
I thought your analogy to smoking was out of place as well.

Wifi has become a concern, especially to business travelers. I shouldn't have to explain why.
AABABY
AABABY 1
Too easy Fritz.
Yazoo
Yazoo 1
My carrier already had the Phase 3A DU's installed. We had a couple or aircraft that were delivered a few years back with just the Phase 3 and not 3A. We had to disable the passenger WIFI until the units were replaced with the 3A DU's.
All in all, I'm guessing that most carriers have already have the modified DU's.
sparkie624
sparkie624 1
Interesting... Hope it turns out to be a good fix...
iflyfsx
iflyfsx 1
"Within five years." So it's not a big deal. There is no significant risk to human life.
captainjman
Jason Feldman 1
If the FAA could wait years to retrofit the center fuel tank on 747's after TWA 800 - and those were SUPPOSEDLY prone to exploding and destroying the entire aircraft....

Especially around surface to air missiles....

The wifi thing is a joke.
KennyFlys
Ken Lane 1
Just some ticked off customers who won't get wifi.
canuck44
canuck44 1
These look like they are all installed in fairly late model 737's. At $10,000 per fix, the cost is not overwhelming, but will set up a three way argument as to who should pay....Honeywell, Boeing or the operator.
MikeMohle
Mike Mohle 4
Or the FAA. Wasn't this equipment TSO'd and tested, and then approved for each installation?
joelwiley
joel wiley 2
... or the Pax.
sparkie624
sparkie624 1
Is that per screen or per plane.. If per screen at 10K each, that is 50 per plane and 1300 planes is 65 million...
AABABY
AABABY 1
Per plane, Sparkie. Cockpit Displays, the article says.
canuck44
canuck44 0
Total fix was to be $14 Million...doesn't say otherwise and doesn't say whether Honeywell can do a modification and a swap out. My bet is there will be an cost sharing agreement reached.
smoki
smoki -1
Does it occur to anyone that these electronic devices that can blank an MFD by being operated from the next room (the pax cabin) may also over a long period of time "blank" your brain which is often only inches away and often radiating into your ear canal? Never mind, the manufacturers have all assured us there's no evidence that they can do any bodily harm. And where have we heard that before? We're living everyday in an increasing EMR environment for the sake of....convenience.
pdixonj
pdixonj 11
Have you been out among the public lately??....many people's brains are already blank, and it's "not" because of personal electronic devices...
Bernie20910
Bernie Behling 1
Right, because the human brain is exactly like an MFD, so it would be affected the same way. Not.

Can RF cause damage to human tissue? Absolutely, no question about it and that box called a "microwave" out in your kitchen is a great example of what RF energy can do. It's also a great example of how specifically the device creating the RF needs to be engineered in order to have that effect. In the case of that kitchen microwave the RF output is measured in hundreds of watts, kilowatts in some cases, and all of that energy is channeled and focused in the target area, using frequencies well suited to that purpose.

Your typical cellphone, on the other hand, uses power levels measured in milliwatts, is designed to radiate in an omnidirectional pattern (no one direction gets "full" power), and uses frequencies that really don't resonate well with human tissue.

So why are these displays having this problem, caused by such weak devices? Because while throwing a lot of RF energy at such a device could overload it and damage it, far, far less energy is needed to disrupt it, if the energy winds up in the right place. The clock or timing circuit for the device let's say, where the clock signals are produced that synchronize and regulate all the signals that travel inside the device to make it work. Usually this is a simple oscillator circuit, often crystal based (certain crystals vibrate at certain frequencies when electricity is applied to them) that produces the clock "ticks" that digital electronics need to function. Allow a milliwatt or two of RF to get in there and all kinds of havoc ensues, as suddenly there's no steady stream of ticks for the computers to use to time operations or generate pulses.

Oh, and the human brain is as much a chemical system as it is an electrical system. What you had for lunch has an impact that's orders of magnitude greater on your brain function than the phone you're talking on.

Science!
buehman
albert buehman 0
Boeing writes the spec and pays HON to comply with it.

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