ADDING ON-BOARD INTERNET MAY ENHANCE PASSENGER EXPERIENCE, FAA SUPPLEMENTAL TYPE CERTIFICATE REQUIREMENT ENSURES SAFETY

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ARTICLE: Aiming for Seamless Surfing and Streaming at 30,000 Feet

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Gogo Wireless and Row 44 are developing important technology to allow passengers to access the Internet. While this is a positive addition to the suite of passenger conveniences, the technology will harness the threat of electromagnetic interference with the aircraft’s many safety critical electronic systems (JDA’s comments).

Like any new on-board system, the FAA requires an assessment to determine the impact new equipment may have on the aircraft and systems that are critical to flight safety. A Supplemental Type Certificate requires that the applicant meet a number of tests and the process is frequently iterative (one set of results will cause the regulators to ask more questions and/or impose new tests). The interaction between on-board Personal Data Assistants and iPads with the aircraft’s electronic systems is an emerging “science”; so there is potential for significant delays in the STC process.

Navigating these regulatory demands can be time complex and time consuming but can be facilitated by including outside experts.

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