The Boeing 737 and 777 are two of the most popular airliners in the world. Some of the most popular radio signals, Wi-Fi and other radio signals, have the potential to make the cockpit displays in both planes go haywire.
Now the Federal Aviation Administration has ordered that every plane with the outdated video screens must be updated within 35 days. My first question when I read that was, "Wow, that quick?"
I talked to my employee, who is also a licensed pilot, about how dangerous this flaw could really be. He explained that the issue was actually as scary as it sounds and here's why the FAA is running scared:
Over the last couple of decades, mechanical aircraft instruments, dials and gauges have been replaced by computer-powered flat screen displays that provide much more information to flight crews than the old round dials. These monitors are a pilot's number-one tool when visibility is low. They guide planes in though fog and other low-visibility weather conditions. The possibility of these monitors failing as aircraft approach the ground in heavy weather or at night would be very scary.
The FAA discovered the bug when stress testing the monitors, so the slightest introduction to a Wi-Fi signal probably won't crash a plane.
It's important enough that the FAA is forcing airlines worldwide to spend nearly $14 million on this important fix.
This doesn't mean that you should avoid using Wi-Fi on a plane, but you should definitely be glad that someone spotted and fixed this potential threat.
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