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 →
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 →
Google announced on Thursday that it is acquiring flight information software company ITA for $700 million in cash. Based in Cambridge, ITA mines flight data and presents it in a polished form suitable for online viewing. Google will add to its repertoire of services by integrating this flight data into its online search engine. Google also states that it will honor all service agreements with ITA’s current customers which include Kayak, Orbitz, and Bing. Despite this assurance of openness, Google now owns a big chunk of the online travel business, so expect the deal to get a close look from regulators. More →