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Images courtesy Boeing
Boeing lists reduced weight and increased bandwidth among the reasons for the switch to wired networking

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner passenger jet is moving along swiftly in development and is not too far away from its August 2007 maiden flight. The twin-engine aircraft will feature body and wing construction that is comprised by as much as 50% composite materials and has a cruising speed of Mach 0.85. Boeing also claims that the Dreamliner is 20% more fuel efficient than competing aircraft.

In keeping with the advanced nature of the plane’s engines and construction, the Dreamliner was also supposed to make use of wireless networking for DVD-quality in-flight entertainment.

Boeing has decided to nix that idea and has switched to a wired networking arrangement for the Dreamliner. The company says that the move to wired networking only adds 50 pounds to the aircraft instead of the 200 pounds required for wireless networking components. There were also concerns over the amount of bandwidth that could be provided by a wireless network.

Reduced weight and bandwidth, however, aren't the only reasons why Boeing has decided to go with a wired network. Boeing learned that some countries would not give it permission to use frequencies necessary for wireless networking. "Knowing that the regulatory issues were basically insurmountable, it just did not make sense to apply those resources there," said Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter.

Boeing has stated that the switch to a wired network will not result in production delays of the aircraft, and that customers have already been notified of the change.

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By hunter44102 on 1/26/2007 11:36:24 AM , Rating: 3
I would think that the weight of all the copper wiring going to every seat in that plane would be much more than a bunch of access points.. I guess I'm curious where the weight differences come from.

RE: Weight
By Hyperlite on 1/26/2007 11:50:35 AM , Rating: 2
thats what i was thinking as well....wireless routers don't weigh much...

RE: Weight
By VooDooAddict on 1/26/2007 12:24:18 PM , Rating: 1
I think the airline means that the Wired only adds 50lb more then the wireless.

RE: Weight
By CorrND on 1/26/2007 4:26:22 PM , Rating: 2
Whatever the intention of the article, why is the weight even mentioned in the first place? Aren't these weight differences VERY insignificant compared to the overall weight of the plane? The weight difference has to be much lower than even the variability in the weight of the passengers.

I'm guessing regulatory controls must be the bigger concern to Boeing.

RE: Weight
By timmiser on 1/27/2007 10:27:50 AM , Rating: 2
You are correct. The issue that some countries might not allow a wireless signal in an airplane basically meant that Boeing would need to have a wired backup anyway plus the advantage of wireless while you are sitting in a seat for 6 hours really is not that important.

RE: Weight
By Martin Blank on 1/26/2007 1:15:03 PM , Rating: 3
Enterprise-level APs can weigh more than you think. We just got a couple of them in at work, and they're not especially bright, handling only association and encryption duties. They have a controller (rather hefty itself) that acts as the authenticating agent, traffic monitor, and configuration manager, and the APs themselves weigh about twice or maybe three times as much as my WRT54GL.

RE: Weight
By Janooo on 1/26/2007 1:39:57 PM , Rating: 3
If each seat has LCD it needs receiver (maybe 50g each). 300(or more)x50g = 15kg ~ 33lb right there.

RE: Weight
By Doormat on 1/26/2007 12:43:08 PM , Rating: 2
The biggest reason why the weight goes down is because of the overhead panels that needed to be stronger to house the AP.

Remember that the heavier of the two wires (the wire that supplies power) is already being run to every seat to power the display. Running a data wire along side it is a small fraction of the weight.

RE: Weight
By Martin Blank on 1/26/2007 1:16:37 PM , Rating: 2
Power cables don't get run in these cases. Since you already have to run Cat-5 or (more likely) Cat-6 cable anyway (unless using WDS), you'd use Power-Over-Ethernet (PoE), which for many newer devices is the only way that you can power them now.

RE: Weight
By masher2 on 1/26/2007 1:23:27 PM , Rating: 2
You run power to a cabin seat for the display and (for some airlines) a power port. I don't know what "devices" you're talking about powering using PoE, as the terminus at the seat is going to be the passenger's laptop, not some hub.

RE: Weight
By TomZ on 1/26/07, Rating: 0
RE: Weight
By mindless1 on 1/26/2007 9:55:24 PM , Rating: 2
No, the power wire for a display does not need be heavier than CAT6. If they were being conservative with a combined use supply, maybe then the size would be similar.

Running a data wire isn't all that heavy as a %, but obviously every little thing adds up, we can assume they are making similar kinds of weight vs benefit decisions on many areas of construction.

RE: Weight
By mindless1 on 1/26/2007 9:57:08 PM , Rating: 2
By heavier I meant in total, not gauge of one wire lead as the CAT6 has to be 4 tighter TP of wires.

RE: Weight
By SoCalBoomer on 1/26/2007 1:28:45 PM , Rating: 2
It's not just the APs. Count the APs, count the specific antennas which will be needed for the specific signal shape needed for the strange interior of an airplane, count the receivers for each device. They'd also likely be going with n devices for bandwidth capability.

Now, go to cable and cat-6 does not really weigh very much.

I obviously don't have the calculations, but I can imagine that most things would end up cancelling out.

RE: Weight
By kirbalo on 1/29/2007 11:19:16 AM , Rating: 2
They'll be more than likely using "Fiber to the Seat", or even more likely, Fiber to the Row or group of rows. PoE is doubtful...

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