The hits just keep on coming for Boeing.
First, the company’s 737 MAX aircraft were grounded following two fatal crashes. (Delta does not fly any MAXes.) Yesterday, Boeing posting a company record $2.9 billion quarterly loss.
Now, a recent report delivers some rather disturbing news: some 737s and 777s are prone to mobile phones and other radio signals.
Anita Sharpe writes in Time that “(more) than 1,300 jets registered in the U.S. were equipped with cockpit screens vulnerable to interference from Wi-Fi, mobile phones and even outside frequencies such as weather radar, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.”
So what’s the worst that could happen?
“Flight-critical data including airspeed, altitude and navigation could disappear and ‘result in loss of airplane control at an altitude insufficient for recovery,’ the FAA said in its 2014 safety bulletin, known as an airworthiness directive,” Ms. Sharpe reports. (Bold mine)
Airlines with affected aircraft have until this November to retrofit cockpits with compliant screens.
**Related Post: Should Boeing Rename the 737 MAX? If So, to What? Will That Even Help?**
Does Delta Fly Any of the Prone 737s and 777s?
Some of Delta’s 737s and 777s were affected. The mothership, however, reportedly replaced the offending cockpit screens. Southwest also completed their repairs.
According to the article, American and United have 14 and 17 planes, respectively, still needing fixes.
Are We Really in Danger?
Honeywell’s Nina Krauss told Ms. Sharpe the company knows of only a single instance when all six displays on a 737 blanked out. Interestingly, that problem was unrelated to Wi-Fi or cellphones; it was a software issue currently being flight-tested.
So we’re okay, right? Well…
A bunch of phones emitting radio signals during a flight “could be a real problem,” Embry-Riddle’s Tim Wilson told Time.
Ms. Krauss assured that multiple redundancies are in place should another blanking incident happen. Let’s hope it never comes to that.
I’m usually very good about putting my phone in airplane mode. Once or twice I was distracted and forgot, realizing my mistake well into the flight. Nothing happened — that I know of — to the cockpit screens.
Even though 90% of my flights are aboard Delta and their planes are compliant, I’ll still be more vigilant about putting my phone into airplane mode — or shutting it off altogether.