U.S. regulators are proposing to replace certain older Honeywell International Inc pilot display systems that are vulnerable to WiFi interference as authorities consider easing restrictions on in-flight use of personal technology devices.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that WiFi systems on board can interfere with the display units, which are installed on more than 150 Boeing Co 737 and 777 aircraft and provide information about airspeed, altitude and pitch and roll attitude. (link.reuters.com/mex33v)
The FAA said that in some cases during testing, the display units went blank for as long as six minutes. If the systems were to go blank during take-off or landing, it could result in a loss of airplane control at an altitude insufficient for recovery, or controlled flight into terrain or obstacles, the regulator said.
The proposal comes as an FAA panel meets this week to complete its recommendations on allowing the use of iPods, laptops, e-readers and other gadgets on board U.S. carriers.
Honeywell officials in the United States could not be reached for comment by Reuters outside of regular business hours.
Boeing said in an emailed statement that it had notified its customers in 2012 after the problem cropped up during tests by an airline before installing a WiFi broadband system on one of its 737 jets.
The aircraft maker said the new Honeywell displays had been delivered on all 737 and 777 aircraft as of September 2012 but did not say how many jets had swapped the systems.
(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bangalore; Editing by Matt Driskill)