The Wireless Age

Wi-Fi has become widespread in aviation infrastructures


We are currently cruising at FL360 in a Falcon 900 over the South Central United States. Having accompanied our aircraft through a major refurbishment at a well-respected maintenance repair organization (MRO), we are testing and inspecting the new equipment and furnishings back in the cabin. It has, so far, been a very comfortable and convenient trip due to the various functions that can be accessed through wireless connections. First, I needed to check my email, so I activated my laptop and noticed that it logged onto the aircraft Wi-Fi requiring me to open my web browser to retrieve my messages.

During that time, I decided it would be nice to listen to some soothing music, so I then picked up a remote control and selected the XM Radio. I was able to find a channel with some suitable tunes. About that time my email appeared and when I read the first note, it required a followup conversation, so I pulled one of the cordless cabin telephones from its charging cradle and proceeded to place a call to our primary maintenance base to discuss the topic of the email. About that time, another passenger asked for the cabin remote control to turn on one of the DVD players. Before I gave it up, I selected the XM Radio off the cabin speakers and donned a wireless headset and selected the XM Radio to the audio input for the headphones. My co-passenger then took control of the Airshow by selecting CNN with the wireless mouse.

This is the age of Wireless, Wi-Fi, cordless, infrared (IR), and radio frequency (RF) controls.

These expressions are frequently used to describe an operating concept and are not always associated with their specific operating method.

In 1898 at an exhibition at Madison Square Garden, Nikola Tesla demonstrated a small boat which could apparently obey commands from the audience but was, in fact, controlled by Tesla interpreting the verbal requests and sending appropriate frequencies to tuned circuits in the boat. He was granted a U.S. patent on this invention on Nov. 8, 1898.

The term “Wi-Fi” suggests “Wireless Fidelity,” compared with the long-established audio recording term “High Fidelity” or “Hi-Fi.” “Wireless Fidelity” has often been used in an informal way, even by the Wi-Fi Alliance itself, but officially the term does not mean anything.

First used commercially in August 1999, “Wi-Fi” was coined by a brand consulting firm called Interbrand Corp. that had been contracted to determine a name that was a little catchier than “IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence.” Interbrand invented “Wi-Fi” as simply a play-on-words with “Hi-Fi.”

Wi-Fi allows local area networks (LANs) to be deployed without wires for external devices, typically reducing the costs and increasing flexibility of network deployment and expansion. Spaces where cables cannot be run can host wireless LANs.

Wireless network adapters are now built into most laptops. Wi-Fi has become widespread in aviation infrastructures.

Wi-Fi standards
Wi-Fi is a global set of standards. Unlike mobile telephones, any standard Wi-Fi device will work anywhere in the world.

The 802.11 family includes over-the-air modulation techniques that use the same protocol. The most popular are those defined by the 802.11b and 802.11g and are amendments to the original standard. The first wireless networking standard was 802.11-1997, but 802.11b was the first widely accepted one, followed by 802.11g and 802.11n. Security was originally purposefully weak due to export requirements of some governments and was later enhanced via the 802.11i amendment after governmental and legislative changes. Standard 802.11n is a new multi-streaming modulation technique while 802.11b and 802.11g use the 2.4 GHz ISM band, operating in the United States under Part 15 of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules and regulations. Because of this choice of frequency band, 802.11b and 802.11g equipment may occasionally suffer interference from microwave ovens, cordless telephones, and Bluetooth devices.
The 5 GHz U-NII band is used in conjunction with 802.11a, which, for much of the world, offers at least 19 nonoverlapping channels rather than the three offered in the 2.4 GHz ISM frequency band.

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