Boeing recently developed a new method to test wireless signals in airplane cabins, in an effort to increase the connectivity reliability of networked personal electronic devices operating in the air.
Boeing engineers created a new process for measuring radio signal quality using “proprietary measurement technology and analysis tools,” enabling the engineers to more efficiently measure the strength and reach of signals and adjust them as needed.
The technology was originally developed to “more thoroughly and efficiently ensure that signal propagation met the regulatory safety standards that protect against interference with an aircraft’s critical electrical systems.” The new method reduced testing time from more than two weeks to 10 hours.
A de-commissioned, grounded airplane filled with 20,000 pounds of potato sacks was used for testing purposes; the team needed to simulate hundreds of passengers sitting in seats throughout the aircraft and determined that potatoes were ideal stand-ins due to their similar physical interactions with electronic signal properties. The test data was later validated on the ground using human stand-ins.
Image: The Boeing Company