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According to Bloomberg News, Lufthansa is working with Boeing to offer in-flight wireless Internet access on all its intercontinental flights:

Lufthansa plans to equip its 80 Boeing 747-400 jets and its Airbus A340 and A300 planes with the technology as well as to "become the first airline company worldwide to introduce broadband Internet on board its entire long-haul fleet," the Cologne, Germany-based carrier said.

Boeing expects to have 150 planes equipped with wireless networks by the end of 2004 and plans to charge $25 to $35 for wireless access during international flights. The Wi-Fi networks use radio waves to send data at high speeds. To hook up, a user needs to be within about 500 feet of a so-called "hot spot" with a computer equipped with a card to receive the radio signal.

Does this mean that testing has conclusively shown that Wi-Fi (presumably 802.11b) signals don't interfere with aircraft avionics?

The original press release can be found here. It doesn't have any specifics on the wireless system.


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Can you conclusively show non-interference. No.
I have been involved in fcc certification for years and you see all sorts of weird things.

I can say that 802.11b,g in the 2.4ghz band, and 802.11a in the 5.8ghz band, transmit @100mW and produce harmonics at very low levels well above the operational frequencies of "most" commercial avoionic's. I don't think they would like to see someone with a highly directive antenna radiating at 36dbm EIRP, which is allowed on the ground.

In most cases interference is generated in band by non compliant or modified electronics. One of the worst candidates is switching power supplies, because of the large number of low frequency harmonics generated. One of the reasons why portable devices are allowed is they run on DC, which doesn't need switchers. Even with that, exhaustive work has been done to pick fundemental frequencies of all oscillators used in systems such as 802.11x, that will not produce interfering harmonics. The same has been done in cellular and PCS. Just so you can talk,surf and fly at the same time.

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