Airbus vs Bluetooth

Airline investigators in Australia are suggesting that a Bluetooth mouse or laptop might have been to blame for a recent mishap on a flight that left 20 people injured

Tags: AccidentBluetooth
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By  Mark Sutton Published  October 12, 2008

Airline investigators in Australia are suggesting that a Bluetooth mouse or laptop might have been to blame for a recent mishap on a flight that left 20 people injured.

The Qantas flight to Perth was apparently traveling normally, when the plane's computer systems detected some sort of error, climbed a few hundred feet and then plunged into a dive, sending passengers and crew crashing around the cabin.

Investigators are now looking into the theory that a Bluetooth antennae may have interfered with the avionics, although, in a brilliant bit of understatement, they admit they don't know what happened but said that: "Certainly there was a period of time where the aircraft performed of its own accord."

The situation is not without precedent. Apparently a previous Qantas flight was affected by a Bluetooth mouse, which put the plane into a banking turn whenever it was clicked.

Whether the Bluetooth is to blame or not, it would be nice if flight investigators could make up their mind whether wireless and GSM signals are a risk to aircraft once and for all, particularly given the move to allow mobile use inflight.

That said, I am not convinced that inflight mobile services aren't yet another rip-off by the airlines. On a flight earlier this year, I left my mobile turned on by accident - I had no calls during the flight, and so far as I know it, the phone didn't attempt to hijack the autopilot,  but when I landed, I had SMS messages from operators all across Europe, welcoming me to their networks. So why do we need inflight mobile services if you can connect anyway?

(And on the subject of airlines over-reaching themselves, I do love the rumour that Emirates new Airbus A380was grounded because the heating element for the first class shower interfered with the avionics systems.)

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