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FAA

This Is NOT a Drill: Cell Phones Are a Risk on Certain Boeing Planes

This Is NOT a Drill: Cell Phones Are a Risk on Certain Boeing Planes
Jackie Reddy

In 2014, the FAA issued an airworthiness directive on the risk posed by cell and other radio signals to certain Boeing craft equipped with Honeywell cockpit screens. Impacted models include the 777 and the Next Generation 737 craft. The FAA has issued a November 2019 deadline to fix this problem.

Back in 2014, it was reported by U.S. government authorities that cell and some other radio signals could potentially cause some types of Boeing 737 and 777 aircraft to crash, Bloomberg reports. It transpired that these models of planes were fitted with cockpit screens manufactured by Honeywell International and that as many as 1,300 craft in the U.S. could be impacted.

Seeking to rectify the problem, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given carriers with this affected craft until November of this year to replace these cockpit screen units. The Next Generation model of the 737 is one of the types of craft affected.

The outlet further explains that these units – in addition to being vulnerable to cell signals – can also be impacted by frequencies emanating from Wi-Fi and even weather radar. According to the FAA, even with months to go until that deadline of November of 2019, some planes are still operating with these defective systems.

According to the outlet, a spokesperson for Boeing said that issues with radar interference were noted during a 2012 lab test, but the issue was isolated. However, according to spokesperson Nina Krauss, Honeywell was unaware of any occurrences of radio signals impacting its cockpit screens while a plane in mid-air.

However, when issuing its advisory on the subject back in 2014, the FAA said, “We are issuing this AD [airworthiness directive] to prevent loss of flight-critical information displayed to the flight crew during a critical phase of flight, such as an approach or takeoff, which could result in loss of airplane control at an altitude insufficient for recovery, or controlled flight into terrain.”

So far, the outlet reports that two 737s have been involved in crashes directly related to issues with radar interference. Krauss says that Honeywell is aware of just a single case where all cockpit screens in a 737 suddenly became blank. This, she says, is due to a software problem that has been rectified.

While FlyerTalk forum users debated the issue in some depth, a spokesperson for the FAA who spoke out on the matter was quoted by the outlet as saying, “A 60-month compliance time frame means the risk is low, and does not need to be addressed right away.”

[Featured Image: Boeing]

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