An Apple iPhone spontaneously began smoking and emitting a red glow while aboard an airplane in Australia. Passengers aboard Regional Express flight ZL319 were welcomed to their destination in Sydney, Australia on Friday by a frightening ordeal. According to the airline, a passenger’s iPhone began “emitting a significant amount of dense smoke” shortly after the flight landed, and the smoke was accompanied by a red glow. A flight attendant extinguished the device and no passengers or airline staff were injured according to the airline. The phone in question appears to be an iPhone 4 (pictured above) as opposed to the new iPhone 4S model, and it has been collected by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau as part of its investigation. Regional Express’ full press release follows below. More →
A new study obtained by ABC News suggests that cell phones and other personal electronic devices might be causing electronic interference on airplanes. U.S. airlines all require that passengers power off any and all electronic devices, many claiming that “flight mode,” isn’t even allowed. Of course, if you’re like us, you may ignore those warnings and leave your phone on until the last possible second (or entirely with flight mode activated). The report, however, found that there were 75 different incidents between 2003 and 2009 where interference from personal electronics was possible. From ABC News:
Twenty-six of the incidents in the report affected the flight controls, including the autopilot, autothrust and landing gear. Seventeen affected navigation systems, while 15 affected communication systems. Thirteen of the incidents produced electronic warnings, including “engine indications.” The type of personal device most often suspected in the incidents were cell phones, linked to four out of ten.
During one flight, for example, autopilot disengaged at 4,500 feet. When pilots asked flight attendants to search the cabin for electronic devices, they discovered that one phone and three iPods were being used. After those devices were powered down, the flight continued without any incident. ABC News’ aviation expert, John Nance, isn’t convinced the electronics are to blame, however. “If an airplane is properly hardened, in terms of the sheathing of the electronics, there’s no way interference can occur,” he said. For reference, there are over 35,000 flights daily in the United States. More →
When Apple first unveiled its iPhone 4 smartphone last summer, most media and bloggers were in agreement that the new glass construction was stunning. They also agreed, however, that the iPhone 4 would likely be more prone to significant damage than other smartphones due to the fragile nature of glass compared to plastic and metal. While we’ve heard our fair share of shattered iPhone stories, U.S. Air Force Combat Controller Ron Walker’s tale should help dispel the notion that the iPhone 4 is inherently fragile. While leaning out of an airplane looking for landmarks, Walker’s Velcro pocket flap popped open and his iPhone 4 plummeted to the earth below. At the time, the plane was traveling at 150 m.p.h at an altitude of roughly 1,000 feet. Once on the ground, Walker told a few friends what had happened, one of whom installed Apple’s “Find My iPhone” app on his own handset in an attempt to locate Walker’s lost phone. Unexpectedly, the app found Walker’s iPhone immediately and when the men drove to its location, they found the smartphone in perfect working condition without a scratch on it. Walker kept his iPhone in a standard Griffin case and it had no other casing or special protection at the time of its fall. More →
In a press release today, JetBlue and ViaSat announced a partnership that will bring inflight broadband to JetBlue’s fleet of airplanes. As the press release reads:
ViaSat and JetBlue have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the provision of in-flight broadband access and other services for customers on JetBlue’s fleet of more than 160 aircraft using ViaSat advanced Ka-band satellites. Under the arrangement, ViaSat will provide Ka-band antenna components and SurfBeam®2 modems for installation on the airline’s EMBRAER E190 and Airbus A320 aircraft types along with two-way transmission bandwidth services using the WildBlue-1 and high-capacity ViaSat-1 satellites. JetBlue subsidiary, LiveTV LLC, will manage the integration of the ViaSat broadband and related components onboard the aircraft as well as providing the Wi-Fi enabled services into the overall cabin experience.
Live TV, combined with the Internet at 32,000 feet will definitely help improve the “overall cabin experience.” The deal isn’t set in stone however: “JetBlue and ViaSat have completed the non-binding MOU with the intent of signing a definitive agreement before the end of this calendar year.” Hopefully, the two companies can ink something more permanent soon and add Wi-Fi to the list of JetBlue inflight amenities. More →
For better or for worse, the Australian Communications and Media Authority is proposing an amendment to the Mobile Phone Jammer Prohibition that would permit cell phone use on domestic and international flights. An 18-month long trial of the pico cell technology used for in-flight cellular communications was deemed successful with no reported complaints of interference to either the plane’s avionics system or ground cellular networks. Both Qantas and V Australia have each announced plans to offer in-flight SMS and GPRS services and are anxiously awaiting these rule changes so they can expand the technology from a single test airplane to fleet-wide deployment. Bravo to Australia for pushing this technology forward and kudos to Qantas and V Australia for offering only SMS and data services. We like getting SMS and GPRS but don’t fancy listening to the bloke next to us telling his mate how he was as full as a boot while watching some aerial ping pong and spent the whole night liquid laughing. What a dill!