Could terrorists hack airplanes?

TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images I never really quite understood the rationale for having to switch off all electronic devices during airplane takeoffs and landings. The stated reason for the ban is that the devices could somehow interfere with the plane’s operation or ignite a fire after a crash. But Boeing apparently has some more serious kinks ...

597206_dreamliner_cabin5.jpg
597206_dreamliner_cabin5.jpg

TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images

I never really quite understood the rationale for having to switch off all electronic devices during airplane takeoffs and landings. The stated reason for the ban is that the devices could somehow interfere with the plane's operation or ignite a fire after a crash.

But Boeing apparently has some more serious kinks to work out with its newest jet, the 787 Dreamliner, which already has 800 advance orders ahead of its November launch. The Federal Aviation Administration fears that a new feature on the plane that allows passengers to connect their mobile computers to the Internet may allow a terrorist to disrupt the plane's control systems. This is especially worrisome, as we know that many terrorists have advanced engineering degrees and could be familiar with how to carry out just such an operation. The Web sites of jihadist sympathizers are often very professionally done and have sophisticated encryption features.

TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images

I never really quite understood the rationale for having to switch off all electronic devices during airplane takeoffs and landings. The stated reason for the ban is that the devices could somehow interfere with the plane’s operation or ignite a fire after a crash.

But Boeing apparently has some more serious kinks to work out with its newest jet, the 787 Dreamliner, which already has 800 advance orders ahead of its November launch. The Federal Aviation Administration fears that a new feature on the plane that allows passengers to connect their mobile computers to the Internet may allow a terrorist to disrupt the plane’s control systems. This is especially worrisome, as we know that many terrorists have advanced engineering degrees and could be familiar with how to carry out just such an operation. The Web sites of jihadist sympathizers are often very professionally done and have sophisticated encryption features.

With airport security bans as stringent as they already are, I wouldn’t be surprised if an outright ban on electronic devices in the cabin were instituted in the near future. That ought to boost the approval ratings of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

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