Federal Aviation Administration Stories March 21, 2016

Airline, FAA & Apple investigate as iPhone 6 catches fire on Alaska Airlines flight to Hawaii

abcNews reports that an iPhone 6 caught fire on a flight to Hawaii as the aircraft was around 90 minutes away from its landing in Honolulu.

The phone was owned by a college student who reported it in rather hysterical terms, claiming 8-inch flames and stating that she thought the plane was ‘going down,’ but Alaska Air and the FAA have confirmed that the incident itself did take place.

Federal Aviation Administration Stories August 1, 2014

Delta Air Lines has updated its Fly Delta iPad app to allow passengers to stream movies and TV shows from the onboard wifi network. Using wifi to stream movies to iPads was first trialled back in 2011 by Qantas, followed by Hawaiian Airlines almost a year ago and introduced as a standard service by United back in May.

The Delta Studio service provides all streaming content free of charge to international, First Class and Economy Comfort passengers, while domestic Economy customers get some content free with ‘premium content’ being chargeable …  expand full story

Federal Aviation Administration Stories November 14, 2013

Europeans get to use in-flight gadgets too, as EASA mirrors FAA ruling (Update: 3G & 4G too)

Following the FAA ruling, permitting the use of portable electronic devices during all phases of flight, the European Aviation Safety Authority has announced that it too will be issuing the same guidance by the end of the month.

This will allow passengers on European airlines to use tablets, smartphones and ebook readers from gate to gate, provided that they are placed in Airplane mode at the gate.

American airlines wasted no time in implementing the FAA guidance, so here’s hoping for similar speed for those of us on the other side of the pond.

Update: The EC has now also approved both 3G and 4G network use on board aircraft. This would allow airlines to install mini base stations in their aircraft, with signals relayed via their own on-board radio equipment. I’m desperately hoping airlines won’t allow voice calls …

Via The Verge

Federal Aviation Administration Stories November 7, 2013

Airlines implement gate-to-gate handheld device rules faster than expected

United and American have joined Delta and Jet Blue in permitting gate-to-gate use of portable electronic devices, following the FAA ruling making it legal to do so.

The FAA had said at the time that airlines would need to perform individual tests to demonstrate that the use of electronic devices during all phases of flight would be safe, and had suggested that this might take some time. With the announcement expected as long ago as March, however, it appears that several airlines undertook this testing in advance of the formal ruling.

There has still been no clarification on what constitutes a ‘handheld’ device, but airlines so far appear to be saying yes to tablets and ebook readers and no to laptops. With many tablet and Bluetooth keyboard combos being visually indistinguishable from ultrabooks to non-technical cabin crews, we shall watch with interest to see how the rules are enforced.

Federal Aviation Administration Stories September 24, 2013

Fixing a Jumbo Jet? There’s now an iPad app for that …

With iPads already in use on airline flight-decks and cabins, aircraft mechanics will soon be able to use them when carrying out maintenance on Boeing aircraft, reports CNET.

The aviation giant, which makes planes like the 747, 787 Dreamliner, 777, and 737, said that maintenance technicians will be able to use the apps for instant access to airplane manuals, part numbers and inventory, maintenance history, and more. The company said that will help the airlines resolve mechanical issues faster, leading to reduced flight delays and lower costs.

The apps have been trialled with several airlines over the course of a year, and are due to be officially launched this week.

In related news, we reported back in March that the FAA was expected to approve iPads and other electronic equipment to be used in Flightsafe mode throughout a flight (including take-off and landing). It’s now been confirmed that the FAA will be issuing this approval on Friday, though it won’t come into effect until sometime next year.

Federal Aviation Administration Stories September 11, 2013

Gogo announces new Ground to Orbit network to bring 60 Mbps internet to US flights next year

Inlfight internet service Gogo announced today that it plans to bring new technology to partner airlines in the US that will provide more than 60 Mbps starting with Virgin America flights in the second half of next year. Dubbed “Gogo GTO” or “Ground to Orbit,” the new service offers a 20-fold increase in speeds up from the peak 9.8Mbps delivered through Gogo’s current network.

“Because we are a Silicon Valley-based airline, Virgin America guests expect a fully connected in–flight experience that enables them to remain productive even at 35,000 feet,” said President and CEO of Virgin America David Cush. “We were proud to be the first to offer Gogo’s ATG-4 product last year and we are pleased to be the launch partner for GTO, which will be another leap forward in terms of speed and performance of in–flight Wi-Fi for our guests.”

Gogo will first have to get FAA approval before rolling out next year. But when it does, this is how it will work:

Gogo will be utilizing a Ku antenna developed specifically for receive only functionality.  The advantages of using satellite for reception only and Gogo’s ATG Network for the return link are unprecedented.  Existing two-way satellite antennas in the commercial aviation market have limited power for transmissions so they don’t interfere with other satellites.  This dynamic makes the connection from the aircraft to the ground using two-way satellite an inefficient and expensive return link compared to Gogo’s ATG Network. Gogo’s receive only antenna will be two times more spectrally efficient and half the height of other antennas in the commercial aviation market.  The low profile of the antenna will result in much less drag and therefore fuel burn on the aircraft and, ultimately, greater operational efficiencies for airlines.

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