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Wi-Fi Interference Forces Replacement of Boeing Cockpit Display Units


The FAA has ordered that cockpit display units in Boeing 737 and 777 aircraft be replaced within five years.

A document from the FAA published on Wednesday in the Federal Register is requiring Boeing to replace cockpit display units (DUs) in all of its model 737 and 777 aircraft.

The move comes after the units showed in testing that they reacted to Wi-Fi frequency bands at levels below the tolerance required for certification of Wi-Fi system installations. These would include Wi-Fi frequencies from mobile phones, weather radar and mobile satellite communications.

The phase 3 DUs provide primary flight information, including airspeed, altitude, pitch and role attitude, heading and navigation information to the flight crew. An article published in the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday noted the DUs showed blanking on the screens during independent tests conducted by the FAA and Boeing. Honeywell, the company that manufactures the DUs, denied any units had blanked due to Wi-Fi interference.

The FAA stated that loss of information to pilots could result in “loss of airplane control at an altitude insufficient for recovery,” as reported by the Tribune.

“The only known occurrence was during a developmental test conducted on the ground,” Honeywell spokesman Steve Brecken told the Tribune. “We worked with Boeing and addressed any concerns in 2012 with new display hardware.”

Approximately 1,300 units will need to be replaced within five years at a cost of $14 million, according to the Tribune. Boeing spokesman Miles Kotay told the Tribune that the company made recommendations to operators in November 2012, but the FAA ruling now makes the replacement of these units mandatory.

[Photo: iStock]

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relangford October 2, 2014

Shouldn't these tests have been conducted prior to allowing WiFi?