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Trying to make a GTE Airfone operational

Trying to make a GTE Airfone operational

Old Dec 15, 17, 8:00 am
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Trying to make a GTE Airfone operational

First, apologies if this is the wrong forum - I wasn't sure about this one...

I picked up a set of F seats from eBay that came out of an old Continental MD-80 for use in my office/screening room. They're in really nice shape, and they still have the old GTE Airfones in the back of the seats. I know it was a satellite calling system when it was actually in use, but they also have regular old telephone jacks on them (I assume for servicing and testing). Simply plugging them into my home phone line doesn't work of course, but I'm wondering if anyone has any sort of knowledge about these systems and if my plan to make them into a usable "house phone" is feasible. I imagine they also need some sort of power source at the least, but I'm having trouble finding any sort of technical info online about them.
Any info or direction is appreciated very much!!


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Old Dec 15, 17, 8:07 am
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You have to swipe your credit card before it will wrk.

Can you take some photos of the connectors? Is there anything other than the RJ11?
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Old Dec 15, 17, 8:15 am
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It actually was a ground based system using low frequency and a surprisingly small number of base stations. Some widebodies had satellite equipped phones but all domestic stuff was routed to the ground. Interestingly, this ground based network is the same system that GoGo is running on.

Im pretty sure the RJ-11 was for a dial up modem.

When Verizon acquired GTE they’ got creative and enabled calling for Verizon customers for something incredibly cheap like 10 cents a minute.
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Old Dec 15, 17, 9:09 am
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This is all I can find, short of tearing the whole seat apart. As you can see, there's nothing immediately behind the phone holder

https://imgur.com/a/10dxL
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Old Dec 15, 17, 9:13 am
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Originally Posted by snowfilmer View Post
This is all I can find, short of tearing the whole seat apart. As you can see, there's nothing immediately behind the phone holder

https://imgur.com/a/10dxL
You can always hold it to your ear and pretend you're waiting for a CSR to answer during a blizzard at Chicago.
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Old Dec 15, 17, 9:48 am
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Originally Posted by snowfilmer View Post
I picked up a set of F seats from eBay that came out of an old Continental MD-80
CO had MD-80's?

But, to directly answer your question.... I can't even see where anyone has attempted it.

If your feeling adventurous, open it up and lets see what we need to solder! At worst.... it can basically be used as a headset only.
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Old Dec 15, 17, 10:28 am
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From the looks of it you're missing the actual communications module. Think of this as just the handset end of a cordless phone, without the base station, except it's connected by a 4-wire, which presumably includes power and data. The base station would presumably handle the billing and dialing (plus maybe the box for communicating with the ground-based receivers).

Your best bet might be to see if you could hollow out the handset in part and put in some other phone parts - perhaps an old princess phone would be suitable?
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Old Dec 15, 17, 10:30 am
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Originally Posted by jhayes_1780 View Post
CO had MD-80's?
Well, that what the seller told me. He said he was friends with an ex-executive there, and when they did re-fits, he asked for some. He has/had another set of F seats as well as a set of J when I picked mine up. So I'm just repeating what was told to me!

@drewguy That would make sense to have all the calls routed to a central "base station" rather than in-seat.

Your suggestion may be the most reasonable option.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Dec 15, 17 at 10:45 am Reason: merging consecutive posts by same member
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Old Dec 15, 17, 10:40 am
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Originally Posted by jhayes_1780 View Post
CO had MD-80's?
Lots of them in the late 80s. I can remember a hop LAX-ELP-IAH.

I can remember GTE Airfone, too, but nothing of use to the OP in his current task.
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Old Dec 15, 17, 10:47 am
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Your only option here will be to hollow out the inside and put in "regular" phone guts.

The RJ-11 was for connecting a modem, not for plugging in a telephone line. The intelligence was all in a module in the belly of the plane.
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Old Dec 15, 17, 10:57 am
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I'm going to move this to our Travel Technnology forum as you might find more assistance there.

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Old Dec 15, 17, 12:32 pm
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Last edited by cyborg; Jun 2, 18 at 3:21 pm Reason: Moving on from Flyertalk
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Old Dec 15, 17, 12:40 pm
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Found this on Ebay:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/MagnaStar-C...4383.l4275.c10


Can you hear me now?
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Old Dec 15, 17, 1:15 pm
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@cyborg - that's cool! thanks!
@birdiedouble - oh jeez - good find!
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Old Dec 15, 17, 1:15 pm
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Cool idea to put those seats in your house!
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