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Old 05-02-2012, 09:54 AM   #1
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787 Features & Differences

Something from a friend of a friend. Damn! And I though my old P3 A/B was a complex beast.


787 Features & Differences

I just completed the first pilot training class on the 787 at United Airlines, an airplane which is destined to replace the 767 and live for many years after I retire. Here's what I've learned in 787 training so far. By the way, last night we passed our MV (maneuvers validation) check ride, with emergency after emergency, and the FAA observing. Tonight was our LOE (line-oriented evaluation), again with FAA - this time 2 FAA observers. It's 0200 and I just got back to the hotel and poured a well-earned glass of wine to celebrate. I now have a type rating in the 787. Phew. I'm pretty confident this will be the last one for me.

I've summarized some of the major differences and unique features of the 787 versus more traditional "old school" airplanes like the 777 (not kidding) - from the pilot's viewpoint. Our "Differences" course takes 11 days to gain an FAA type rating, which is a "common" type rating with the 777. The course has been like drinking from a fire hose, but has finally come together. Some of our pilots attended Boeing's 5-day differences course, and deemed it unacceptable. The FAA approved the Boeing 5-day course, but our guys decided it lacked too much information. FAA is observing our checkrides now, and taking our course as well, to certify the training. We're just the guinea pigs.

A computer nerd would describe the 787 as 17 computer servers packaged in a kevlar frame. The central brains is the Common Core System (CCS). Two Common Computing Resources (CCRs) coordinate the communications of all the computer systems, isolating faults and covering failed systems with working systems. When battery power is first applied to the airplane in the morning, it takes about 50 seconds for the L CCR to boot up. After this, a few displays light up and you can start the APU. If there is a major loss of cockpit displays, this may require a CCR reboot, which would take about a minute. Here are a few of the major features and differences from the 777.

Electrics - Though a smaller plane, the 787 has 4 times the electric generating power of the 777 - 1.4 gigawatts. Generators produce 235 VAC for the big power users. Other systems use the traditional 115 VAC and 28 VDC. There are 17 scattered Remote Power Distribution Units which power about 900 loads throughout the plane. The big power distribution system is in the aft belly, along with a Power Electronics Cooling System (PECS). This is a liquid cooling system for the large motor power distribution system. There's also an Integrated Cooling System (ICS), which provides refrigerated air for the galley carts and cabin air, and a Miscellaneous Equipment Cooling System for Inflight Entertainment Equipment.

If 3 of the 4 engine generators fail, the APU starts itself. The APU drives two generators, and can be operated up to the airplane's max altitude of 43,000 feet. If you lose all 4 engine generators, the RAT (ram air turbine) drops out (like a windmill), powering essential buses. (It also provides hydraulic power to flight controls if needed).

If you lose all 4 engine generators and the two APU generators (a really bad day), you are down to Standby Power. The RAT will drop out and provide power, but even if it fails, you still have the autopilot and captain's flight director and instruments, FMC, 2 IRSs, VHF radios, etc. If you're down to batteries only, with no RAT, you'd better get it on the ground, as battery time is limited. Brakes and antiskid are electric - 28V - so you don't lose brakes or antiskid even when you're down to just standby power.

Normal flight controls are hydraulic with a couple exceptions. Engine driven and electric hydraulic pumps operate at 5000 psi (versus normal 3000 psi) to allow for smaller tubing sizes and actuators, thus saving weight. If you lose all 3 hydraulic systems (another bad day), you still have two spoiler panels on each wing which are electrically powered all the time, as is the stabilizer trim. You can still fly the airplane (no flaps, though). If you're having an even worse day and you lose all hydraulics and all generators, flight control power is still coming from separate Permanent Magnet Generators (PMGs) which produce power even if both engines quit and are windmilling. If the PMGs fail, too, your flight controls will be powered by the 28 V standby bus.

If you lose all 3 pitot/static systems or air data computers, the airplane reverts to angle of attack speed (converts AOA to IAS), and this is displayed on the normal PFDs (primary flight displays) airspeed indicator tapes. GPS altitude is substituted for air data altitude and displayed on the PFD altimeter tapes. Very convenient.

If you lose both Attitude and Heading Reference Units (AHRUs), it reverts to the standby instrument built-in attitude & heading gyro, but displays this on both pilot's PFDs for convenience.

If you lose both Inertial Reference Units, it will substitute GPS position, and nothing is lost.

If someone turns one or both IRSs off in flight (I hate it when they do that), you can realign them - as long as one of the GPSs is working!

There is no pneumatic system. The only engine bleed is used for that engine's anti-ice. Wing anti-ice is electric. Each of two air conditioning packs control two CACs, which are electric cabin air compressors. The four CACs share two air inlets on the belly. Each pack controller controls two CACs, but if a pack controller fails, the remaining pack controller takes over control of all 4 CACs.

There are no circuit breakers in the cockpit. To check on them, or if you get a message that one has opened (more likely), you select the CBIC (circuit breaker indication and control) display on one of the MFDs (multi function displays). There you can reset the virtual C/B if it is an "electronic" circuit breaker. You can't reset a popped "thermal" circuit breaker.

If you have an APU fire on the ground or inflight, the fire extinguishing bottle is automatically discharged. If there is a cargo fire, the first two of seven bottles will automatically discharge also.

There's a Nitrogen Generation System which provides automatic full-time flammability protection by displacing fuel vapors in the fuel tanks with nitrogen (Remember TWA 800?).

Like the 767 and 777, the 787 also has full CPDLC capability (controller-to-pilot datalink communications). In addition, its full FANS capability includes ADS-B in & out. The controller can uplink speed, heading, and altitude changes to the airplane. These show up on a second line right under the speed, heading and altitude displays on the mode control panel. If you pilot wants to use them, he can press a XFR button next to each window. The controller can even uplink a conditional clearance, like - After passing point XYZ, climb to FL390. If you accept this, it will do it automatically.

Fuel system - like the 777, the 787 has a fuel dump system which automatically dumps down to your maximum landing weight, if that is what you want. In addition, it has a Fuel Balance switch which automatically balances your L & R main tanks for you. No more opening crossfeed valves and turning off fuel pumps in flight. No more forgetting to turn them back on, either.

Flight Controls - An "Autodrag" function operates when the airplane is high on approach and landing flaps have been selected. It extends the ailerons and two most outboard spoilers, while maintaining airspeed, to assist in glidepath capture from above, if you are high on the glideslope. The feature removes itself below 500 feet.

Cruise flaps is an automated function when level at cruise. It symmetrically moves the flaps, ailerons, flaperons, and spoilers based on weight, airspeed and altitude to optimize cruise performance by varying the wing camber, thus reducing drag.

Gust suppression - Vertical gust suppression enhances ride quality when in vertical gusts and turbulence. It uses symmetric deflection of flaperons and elevators to smooth the bumps. This should result in fewer whitecaps in passengers' coffee and cocktails. Lateral gust suppression improves the ride when on approach by making yaw commands in response to lateral gusts and turbulence.

Instrument Approaches - The airplane is actually approved for autoland based not only on ILS but on GLS approaches - GPS with Ground based augmentation system, which corrects the GPS signals. GLS minimums are the same as CAT I ILSs - 200' and 1/2 mile visibility. Our airline is not yet approved for GLS autolandings yet, though we will be doing GLS approaches.

Special Cat I & II HUD approaches - These allow lower than normal minimums when the Heads Up Devices are used at certain approved airports (HUDs). The HUDs include runway centerline guidance which helps you stay on the centerline on takeoff when visibility is greatly reduced. It uses either ILS or GLS for this.

Cabin - Pressurization differential pressure maximum is 9.4 psid, so the cabin altitude is only 6000 feet when at the max cruising altitude of 43,000 feet. There is a cockpit humidifier switch, and cabin air humidification is fully automatic. Cabin windows are larger than other airplanes, and window shading is electronic. The passenger can select 5 levels of shading, from clear to black. The flight attendants can control the cabin lighting temperature - mood lighting - to aid in dealing with changing time zones (evening light after dinner, morning light to wake up, etc.).

Much of the cockpit seems like it was designed by Apple. The Control Display Units (CDUs) are virtual, so you can move them from one MFD to another. In fact, you can configure the displays in 48 different ways, I think, though we have found a few favorites we will use to keep it simple. To move the cursor from one MFD to another, you can either use a button, or you can "flick" your finger across the trackpad (Cursor Control Device) to fling the cursor from one screen to the next - much like an iPad.

I'm going home this morning, and will return for a 777 simulator ride before I go back to work. They want to make sure we've still got the old-fashioned legacy airplane in our brain before we fly the 777 again, even though it shares a "common type rating". We won't get the first 787 until October, and begin operations in November or December. At that time I'll return for at least 4 days refresher training before beginning IOE - initial operating experience in the airplane - with passengers.

What a ride. It may be "fuel efficient", but I'm glad someone else is paying for the gas.
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:05 PM   #2
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A good friend of mine is the Chief Production Pilot for the 787 program. He told me awhile back the plane is very nice to fly but it's more like a playing a computer game than flying an airplane.

One more step toward the total elimination of a flight crew. Which IS the goal, by the way. And no, I'm not kidding.
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Old 05-02-2012, 03:47 PM   #3
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Greetings,
Oh great, just what I'm looking forward to, robotic flying...


Danger, danger Will Robinson...Or is it more...




Just sayin'
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Old 05-02-2012, 04:21 PM   #4
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RTF--- You are already experiencing that on just about every flight you make these days. The flight crew selects the route they want to fly--- or rather that their dispatcher has told them to fly--- and other than starting engines, taxiing to the runway, and taking off almost all flights are automatic today. Even making turns or changing altitude is 99 percent of the time the pilot or first officer simply reaching out and dialing in the new heading or altitude. All of the current generation jetliners can land themselves with no assistance from the flight crew. Flight crews tend to elect to hand fly the approaches and landings if for no other reason than if they don't the airlines will realize they really AREN'T needed.

But fully automatic flight is inevitable and will eventually become the norm and nobody will think about it, same as nobody thinks about getting on an elevator, pushing a button, and being carried up 100 floors or whatever by some motors, relays, and circuit boards.

There may be a systems manager on the flight deck or whatever passes for a flight deck on future airplanes. There probably won't be much of one because a flight deck takes up valuable space that could hold revenue-earning seats. So the "flight deck" of the future will probably be a few racks of equipment, probably in the e-bay where the system elecronics are already, with accomotations for the systems manager. There will be no need for him to see out so there will be no reason to have him occupy valuable revenue real estate on the main deck.

I'm sure you've seen this famous Gary Larson cartoon. It pretty much defines all that pilots have to do these days during flights.

They don't even have to do paperwork anymore at the more progressive airlines. Our pilots do all that on iPads today as do a growing number of airlines (Southwest and Alaska, for example). In the very near future iPads will become standard integrated equipment on flight decks (I'm producing a video about that very thing) once we or someone comes up with a mount for it that meets FAA, JAA, etc. requirements. It will be tied wirelessly into all the airplane's systems and will become the flight and maintenance crews' primary data and information interactive link to the airplane itself.
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Old 05-02-2012, 05:13 PM   #5
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Greetings,
Mr. Marin. While I fully appreciate your consummate expertise in aviation matters, the one and only time I have flown was when the pre flight procedure was to release a chicken on the bottom wing. If the chicken escaped to the ground, a thorough check of the guy wires was made. It did not seem that the upper wing had to be in acceptable shape as I'm sure you can appreciate that chickens do not fly much.
Boy do I ever miss my 1959 VW Beetle. Three fuses. Wipers, horn and can't remember the third use. I'm a big Larson fan. Bio chemist wasn't he?
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Old 05-02-2012, 08:28 PM   #6
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I'm sure you've seen this famous Gary Larson cartoon. It pretty much defines all that pilots have to do these days during flights.

First, I love Larson cartoons. Also Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes. Wish they both were still creating new stuff.
Second, in regard to attached photos, with this cartoon I just discovered (at least with Firefox) that if you click on an attached photo once, and then a second time, you can see it in in a larger size (the size in which it was submitted?) and, on some photos, you get a "+" option of enlarging it further.
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Old 05-02-2012, 08:52 PM   #7
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The same is true for enlarging photos on an iPad.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:04 AM   #8
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"In addition, it has a Fuel Balance switch which automatically balances your L & R main tanks for you. No more opening crossfeed valves and turning off fuel pumps in flight. No more forgetting to turn them back on, either."

Is the system smart enough to move the CG to the rear in flight?

As the tail does "negative work" a heavier tail load ( with CG usually too far aft for TO or Landing ) most plumbers could beat Da Book fuel burn by 2% or so.

But then I'm showing my age!

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Old 05-03-2012, 01:32 PM   #9
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Given that commercial flying is 98% boredom, hopefully pilots spend lots of time in simulators to practice the interesting (as in terrifying) scenarios.
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Old 05-03-2012, 02:17 PM   #10
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Is the system smart enough to move the CG to the rear in flight?
All that data for those kinds of calculations are gathered during the flight test phase of a new model, which is usually about a year. I don't know if you've ever seen the inside of the first planes of a new model but they don't have passenger interiors. The cabins are filled with racks of computers and sensor monitors that the flight test engineers sit at and gather and calculate the data that will ultimately be entered into the flight control computers to operate the plane.

In addition to the computer racks there are rows of big water barrels in the cabin in which water can be transferred around the plane to alter the plane's center of gravity under every possible load and flight condition. So ultimately when the model goes into commercial service the flight control system not only monitors every pound of fuel used and where it comes from but knows exactly how using that fuel affects the plane's CG and trim and makes the adjustments to maintain trim automatically.
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Old 05-03-2012, 02:34 PM   #11
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Given that commercial flying is 98% boredom, hopefully pilots spend lots of time in simulators to practice the interesting (as in terrifying) scenarios.
They do, some airlines more than others. Also the introduction of the iPad is opening up all sorts of new ways to make productive use of a flight crew's time. For example, the Boeing training organization is creating a whole new suite of interactive applications for the iPad that pilots can use to review airplane systems, procedures, and a whole bunch of other things they have to remain current on. They are also adapting for the iPad much of the ground-based training that is required to get a type rating in a different airplane model.

These training packages already exist for use in CBT facilities either at Boeing or at the airlines themselves. What's new is that they are being adapted for the iPad so the pilots can use their "downtime" during a flight to maintain a higher degree of currency, advance their knowledge, or prepare for a type rating in another model that their airline flies.

The same iPad will also (actually already does at some airlines) contain all the "paperwork" the flight crew needs to do their jobs. So the airplane manuals, airplane system schematics, flight procedures and checklists, airport maps, approach and departure plates, logbooks.... all that stuff they used to have to carry around in those big black briefcases..... is now on an iPad.

And ultimately, the iPad will connect to the plane itself during flight so that all the information the flight crew needs about what the plane is doing is available on the same iPad.

This same adaptation of the iPad is occuring at more and more airline maintenance facilities, too. At Norwegian for example, that country's fastest growing and most successful airline, the mechanics now go on board the planes armed only with an iPad. The iPad wirelessly connects to the plane to read all the fault and fault diagnosis information and also connects wirelessly to the maintenance mainframe computer at the maintenance facility.

So the mechanic can see what's wrong with the plane, call up schematics and drawings of the planes systems and structure, find out what the fix is and what parts and tools are needed if he doesn't already know (which he probably does), display the step-by-step instructions for performing the fix, and then when the fix is made monitor the plane's diagnostic tests of the system to verify the fault has been corrected. All this on a single iPad.

I bought an iPad last month for a specific project I was about to do in Charleston, SC. Until then I had thought they were neat but not essential. Before I bought one the fellow who composes, arranges, conducts, and mixes all our original music and who has had an iPad for quite awhile now told me that when I got one I'd wonder how I managed to get through my life without it.

He was right. It has totally changed the way I work, both in the office and on location. So no wonder it is totally changing the way the flight and maintenance departments at more and more airlines-- and at Boeing itself--- operate.
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Old 05-05-2012, 09:51 AM   #12
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And ultimately, the iPad will connect to the plane itself during flight so that all the information the flight crew needs about what the plane is doing is available on the same iPad.

This same adaptation of the iPad is occuring at more and more airline maintenance facilities, too. At Norwegian for example, that country's fastest growing and most successful airline, the mechanics now go on board the planes armed only with an iPad. The iPad wirelessly connects to the plane to read all the fault and fault diagnosis information and also connects wirelessly to the maintenance mainframe computer at the maintenance facility.
I am a program manager at Boeing and that certainly is the reality of where we're moving. (it connects today) Everyone is embracing the iPad as an EFB device and the term "there's an app for that..." has never been more real.

There are some absolutely amazing uses for the data;

Imagine a plane that uses residual energy to time the brakes so they minimize wear and minimize the use of thrust reversers.

Or engine performance data streaming live from the AP to the airline maintenance centers. You can minimize fuel loads and operate much more efficiently.

Synthetic vision for both crew and passengers. You can hold your iPad up to the window and get positionally-aware info about what's outside.

Total elimination of all paper in the cockpit. We've eliminated over 77 pounds of paper on the 777 with our EFB.

Electronic charts, airport moving maps, crew information systems, live flight data recorder telemetry... it's all pretty cool stuff.
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Old 05-07-2012, 01:58 AM   #13
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Yeah, but can a b***dy iPad check no little bugger has made a nest in the pito tubes - that's what I want to know. I knew I shouldna let my son get me watching Air Crash Investigation on Nat Geo...
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Old 05-07-2012, 03:38 AM   #14
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Yeah, but can a b***dy iPad check no little bugger has made a nest in the pito tubes - that's what I want to know. I knew I shouldna let my son get me watching Air Crash Investigation on Nat Geo...
Sure. The plane will detect an incorrect pitot tube input for the rest of the airplane's settings and tell you there's a problem. There are redundant pitot tubes and static ports on the planes so a plugged one will not endanger the plane anyway. But the plane will immediately sense something is wrong and alert the flight crew (and in most cases the airline's maintenance department) and if it's talking to an iPad it will put the alert there, too.

Don't know if you know this, but Boeing has a thing called AHM (Airplane Health Management). I'm sure Airbus as the same kind of thing. So if an Emirates 777-300ER enroute from Sydney to Dubai experiences a failure, from a light bulb to a hydraulic pump to an engine, the AHM system instantly tells not only the fight crew but the duty engineers in Emirate's maintenance control center in Dubai exactly what's happened.

But it goes a lot farther than that. The plane's on-board fault diagnosis system calls out what happened, where it's covered in the maintenance manuals, what the fix is, what parts are needed, and what tools are needed to replace the parts. It also tells the flight crew what procedures and checklists should be followed to correct or work around the fault.

All of this information is sent instantly to the AHM maintenance engineers in the Dubai control room which is manned 24/7/365. It does not matter where over the planet the plane is, the information is transmitted immediately to the control room in Dubai.

The plane may have another ten hours to fly, but when it pulls into the gate the maintenance crew is there with the part, the tools, the replacement instructions, the drawings and schematics, all on a laptop or more and more, an iPad. Both of which connect wirelessly to the plane as well as the airline's central maintenance computers.

We've filmed this in action at Emirates in Dubai and it is very impressive to see an airplane on the far side of the plant report in real time that the lightbulb in the starboard aft head has just burned out or that a hydraulic pump is experiencing an overheat and may take itself offline. AHM is being used by more and more airlines around the world from big carriers like British Airways and Emirates to low-fare regional carriers like Norwegian.

So the next time you see a modern jetliner taking off, flying high overhead, or landing, realize that plane is "talking" all the time not only to the flight crew but to a whole lot of other people in different places all over the planet in real time.
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Old 05-07-2012, 03:45 AM   #15
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Yeah, but can a b***dy iPad check no little bugger has made a nest in the pito tubes - that's what I want to know. I knew I shouldna let my son get me watching Air Crash Investigation on Nat Geo...
Think I heard of that issue, involving freezing, in relation to A330s.
Leading to the saying "If it`s not Boeing I`m not going".
That said, I shortly fly out on an A330. BruceK
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Old 05-07-2012, 03:47 AM   #16
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Think I heard of that issue, involving freezing, in relation to A330s.
Leading to the saying "If it`s not Boeing I`m not going".
That said, I shortly fly out on an A330. BruceK
No worrys, the problem's been fixed.
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Old 05-08-2012, 08:42 AM   #17
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Pleased to hear all that Marin. I did enjoy flying 777 via Dubai on Emirates to London last year. I will do so again with even more confidence now. Hmmmm, I wonder if they have any slots..for extra RAM cards I mean, of course. Reminds me...I need an extra 4 Gig one for my MacBook. Editing that same holiday now is really taxing the wee fellow from insufficient RAM. I think I can get a 4G card...?
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Old 05-10-2012, 04:44 PM   #18
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I've been to heel and now I'm back and Marin is full of shit...:-) ....lol. I hope all has been well around here!
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:58 PM   #19
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I've been to heel and now I'm back and Marin is full of shit...:-) ....
I am? Well I guess all those Boeing engineers and systems guys have been playing with their smoke and mirrors again. Shame on them. You need to get your airline out of the abacus age, John, and into the iPad age.
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Old 05-11-2012, 05:56 AM   #20
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One question I wonder about is the ability to compromise the aircraft with all its open electric communication.

For a long time our Compass Call , Growler and other air craft have been able to spoof or destroy radars and other systems thru their radar or comm systems.

It would seem no problem to infect Jeppson , or AIRNC or company comm thru the many comm circuits . And if some mechanic or driver plugs in a portable I pad , a mall ware download would be hard to keep out of the entire system.

Military aircraft are realizing this problem and are compartmenting the systems , so the aircraft can still function.

I can easily envision a few Mid East millions going to Russian hackers (or China) and a couple of U Haul trucks with a generator tossed inside , and the roof cut open, sitting off the end of a dozen runways in the US .

Could make 9-11 look like a non event.

Even easier is all the lap tops now used in flight , closer , and with a powerful batt set perhaps enough to force a flight computer shut down.

?????

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