GoGo Installs on Hold – Boeing Tests Show Wi-Fi Can Interfere with Some Avionics

Posted by at 10:51 am on March 10, 2011

Boeing has found an instance of Wi-Fi interfering with an airliner’s equipment, per a story from Flight Global. The 737NG aircraft’s Honeywell Phase 3 Display Units blank out when close to a strong Wi-Fi signal, including the Aircell’s GoGo in-flight Internet access system. FlightGlobal understood that Boeing had temporarily frozen GoGo installs on all its planes.

The problem appears to be narrow in scope and didn’t affect earlier Phase 2 or more recent Phase 4 units. Honeywell confirmed the issue but said that they only occurred with testing at “elevated power levels” and that they didn’t occur in real-world normal power conditions. Honeywell also insisted the blank out period was quick enough to fit within Boeing’s safety guidelines but still promised a fix.

Inside contacts said Boeing had meticulously checked the in-flight systems but that planes with the Phase 3 screens would have flight deck warnings to turn off Wi-Fi. Future installs also wouldn’t mix Phase 3 with in-flight Internet of any kind, at least until the fix was in place.

FAA officials knew of the problem and was working with both sides, but didn’t say whether or not it would take action.

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