WiFi Killing New Airplane Instruments

You know how when you’re on an airplane and they ask you to turn off your cell phones and Internet-ready devices during take-off? Yeah, this is why. It seems that a new series of display units being constructed by Honeywell Avionics has a problem with Wi-Fi signals.

That problem? Wi-Fi signals short the displays out. Not to worry, though, as Boeing has clarified that there are absolutely zero commercial aircraft at risk of this problem:

Blanking of the Phase 3 Display Units (DUs) has been reported during airline EMI (electromagnetic interference) certification testing of wireless broadband systems (Wi-Fi) on various Next-Generation 737 aeroplanes… Boeing has deferred the activation of wireless systems that interface with passenger devices that could potentially interfere with the DU 3 displays.

While the instrumentation going dead inside of an airplane cockpit mid-flight can be a slight inconvenience, the outage was only temporary. In fact, according to Honeywell, the problem is only temporary:

The screens reappeared well within Boeing’s specified recovery time frame. The screens have not blanked in flight and are not a safety of flight issue. Honeywell is working to ensure the problem is addressed and fixed and that our technology will continue to exceed specifications.

The tech in question is not currently being used on commercial flights. After this, I doubt we’ll see it appear anytime soon, and certainly not before the issues are resolved.


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