back to article The Internet of Flying Thing: Reg man returns with explicit shots

How do you tell the world you’re building smart(er) aircraft tech? If you’re Honeywell, you put a bunch of journalists in the front of your converted testbed airliner and take them for a flight 20,000 feet over eastern England, that’s how. Honeywell is partnering with Inmarsat to offer faster in-flight Wi-Fi speeds to airline …

  1. Christopher Lane

    As Python would say...

    ..."You luck Bastard. You, lucky, lucky Bastard!"

    1. SkippyBing

      Re: As Python would say...

      Now if he can convince the Editor he needs to cover the tech at the Paris Air Show I'll be impressed!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    844TB of data from 12 flight hours

    ... is exactly 20GB per second.

    I would have thought the state of all important systems could be captured in, say, 1MB every 100ms, or 10MB per second.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: 844TB of data from 12 flight hours

      It might well be that this is the data generated, rather than what's logged. There's a lot of very complex systems, making a lot of decisions, with an awful lot of data. I'm sure they actually log less than that. But I guess it means that engineering could log directly into the engines in-flight, and watch their actual performance, rather than what they chose to log by the time it's downloaded on the ground.

      I guess you could use this for research. Or look at you most and least fuel-efficient planes to see what they're doing right/wrong.

      1. Number6

        Re: 844TB of data from 12 flight hours

        It depends on what you're sampling. Cabin temperature changes fairly slowly so you'd probably sample that once a second at most. Engine performance may well be sampling lots of data points every millisecond. Fuel flow, fuel temperature, combustion temperature, exhaust temperature, pressure at various points in the engine, RPM. Then there's all the other flight parameters, other system parameters (battery volts, bus bolts, system load, hydraulic pressure etc). It wouldn't surprise me if there's not a video feed in there too, for modern aircraft.

        Most of the time it isn't needed, but if something goes wrong, then having access to detailed data from the critical period leading up to the incident may be really useful.

    2. SkippyBing

      Re: 844TB of data from 12 flight hours

      There's a frankly staggering amount of information available from the engines alone. I was tangentially involved in some data logging trials and like you I was out by a few orders of magnitude when it came to what the aircraft could produce.

      Different users have different data requirements though, so the engine manufacturer wants to know stuff about the engines I didn't even know was a thing, which lets them develop predictive maintenance programmes that minimise down time. The flight safety department want to know all about how the aircraft is flown so they can try and anticipate where the next accident could occur to prevent it, that used a few hundred parameters more than I thought would exist too.

  3. Nolveys

    I sure hope there's a good barrier between the infotainment systems and the stuff that makes the things go.

  4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge


    Engines Turn Or Passengers Swim

    Thanks for a fascinating article, and...lucky you!

  5. Chloe Cresswell

    "our wifi antenna"

    I do hate things being labelled incorrectly.

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: "our wifi antenna"

      That would actually be incorrect. That would be their satellite antenna.

      The wifi antenna(s) would be inside the passenger compartment.

  6. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    but were nonetheless very welcoming and happy to explain what the gauges and knobs did.

    Ahem! If I was feeling malicious, I might suggest that the guages tell the pilots what the plane is doing, while the knobs make a noise and distract them with flash photography...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    around 800kg

    I'm told the older system fitted to the Norwegian short haul fleet weighs about 800kg. It's pretty slow with 189 passengers on board.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: around 800kg

      Just think how slow the whole satellite system is going to get with all the passengers watching videos and video-calling all their family, on however many thousand flights a day there are.

      Well I guess we're safe from that happening in reality, given the hideous charges that the airlines will want us to pay to use this data. I'm perfectly happy buying a paper in the airport if I need news, or reading a book if not.

      1. 96percentchimp

        Emirates charges $1 for in-flight internet

        It's not fast enough for video calling but you can use email, social media, and Google Docs. IIRC there's a higher-rate for more bandwidth

      2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: around 800kg

        "I'm perfectly happy buying a paper in the airport if I need news, or reading a book if not."

        Unless the airline deceides to charge you for not using their on-board wi-fi, entertainment system, or whatever... because this means you are not producing any sellable data. Wouldn't put it past the likes of RyanAir.

        Besides, only terrorists read books on a plane these days!

    2. JeffyPoooh

      Re: around 800kg

      The modern systems, including everything involved, might be *about* 100kg at most. Everything is built to be as light weight as possible, of course.

  8. M7S

    This wifi on aircraft

    can if be used for video calling ahead to your destination, or (and say it quickly) does nothing travel faster than the speed of flight?

  9. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    I see what you did there

    ...and this push into cloud-based apps...

  10. Led boot

    CRASH on Facebook live...

    How many crashes live streamed from within the cabin do you think it would take to put off the average "nervous flyer"?

  11. Rich Puhek

    Video Calling

    "The onboard network was easily good enough for video calling off your own device"

    Aside from the 40 seconds of frozen video during cell handoff, that is... Or do they have multiple antennas/radios allowing one to establish connection to the next cell before becoming active?

    1. CommsFogey

      Re: Video Calling

      The 40sec is satellite handoff. Ie moving from satellite over europe to satellie over America, or asia. There would be a maximum of 1 satellite change during a flight.

      Cellhandoff (beam to beam in satellite parlance) is seamless basicaly (milliseconds)

  12. Joe Gurman

    Air Force not 2

    I feel like a trainspotter for pointing this out, but.... Air Force 1 and 2 are used only to designate specific aircraft on which the President and Vice President are traveling. In the case of the latter, it's one of several C-32s (Boeing 757s), not a 737.

    1. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

      Re: Air Force not 2

      yep. AF1 could be a Cessna 182 if the situation demanded. Or an old C130 straight outta Panama with buckets for toilets.

      If I were Prez, AF1 would be that XB70 the AF Museum has stashed :)

      And whatever I could get Rutan to build for me.

      Make Civil Aviation Great Again! But then the Airlines and both Political Parties would be on 24/7 attack mode for my frivolous flight expenses, even if they were cheaper and less damaging than most vanity (err.."Legacy") projects the last few Presidents have engaged in.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "Honeywell’s connected aircraft veep, Kristen Slyker,"

    Known to her friends as "CT"

  14. Sporkinum

    Spot the part modified for modern times!

    Is this it?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spot the part modified for modern times!

      There appear to be two modern parts. And if you can tell black from beige then they're pretty easy to spot.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting that South America is covered far better than North America

    It is definitely odd how poorly the US is covered, do they have competition here already and don't expect to have a chance in this market? Or maybe a fourth satellite is on the way?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Interesting that South America is covered far better than North America

      I think they are working on a plan to move N America to be over the equator,

      IIRC It involves electing a president who can make the founding fathers spin in their graves fast enough to provide a torque to flip the axis

    2. SkippyBing

      Re: Interesting that South America is covered far better than North America

      I think that's partly due to the mapping projection used and partly due to the original satellite orbits being chosen to cover the oceans, the mar in Inmarsat being for maritime. I suspect flying over a large 1st world land mass downlinks are also as viable as uplinks.

      1. Chris 239

        Re: Interesting that South America is covered far better than North America

        Also if the cellls are stationary that means geostationary satelites which necessarily places them above the equator and makes coverage more dificult nearer the poles, I'm surprised the beams are not made narrower to compensate. Plus coverage at the poles won't work well for geostationary sats, I'd guess there is some other arrangement of polar orbiting sats or geosync sats for help.

  16. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    cover most of the Earth - except...unluckily for them, Iceland

    Isn't that part of the very busy Europe to North America route?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: cover most of the Earth - except...unluckily for them, Iceland

      The busy no electronic devices allowed Europe to N America route ?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: cover most of the Earth - except...unluckily for them, Iceland

        "The busy no electronic devices allowed Europe to N America route ?"

        LOL, yes, that one. I'd forgotten about that. So, maybe not such a good time to announce new in-flight consumer WiFi services in the hope of selling it to operators.

  17. Snapper

    Call me stupid but.....

    If we poor cattle can't take anything larger than a phone onto a plane, it's only the airline technical staff who will benefit, Shirley?

    1. DropBear

      Re: Call me stupid but.....

      Only if your flight involves the US. And don't call me Surely.

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