Gadgets, airplanes, and you: What's up with the FAA rules

Flying will soon be a little more tech-friendly. Gone are the days of flight attendants politely, or not so politely, reminding airline passengers to turn off all electronic devices for takeoff and landing. Imagine using Wi-Fi on your device during the entire flight.

On Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a long-awaited -- and much hoped for -- ruling that airlines can "safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight," including during takeoff and landing.

The FAA said that it expects that passengers will see the expanded use of electronics, in airplane … Read more

Laser pointer attacks on airplanes skyrocketing

Attacks in which airplanes are targeted with laser pointers are up 1,100 percent nationwide since 2005.

According to Quartz, the Federal Aviation Administration reported that there were more cases of planes being targeted with lasers in January 2013 than in all of 2005. This January, there were 346 cases, while in all of 2005, there were just 283.

The FAA takes the matter so seriously that it has a Web site dedicated to informing the public about the hazard. "No accidents have been attributed to the illumination of crewmembers by lasers, but given the sizable number of reports … Read more

Boeing launches airplane maintenance iPad apps

Boeing announced this morning that it has launched a suite of iPad apps that gives airline mechanics quick access to a wide range of essential maintenance information.

The aviation giant, which makes planes like the 747, 787 Dreamliner, 777, and 737, said that maintenance technicians will be able to use the apps for instant access to airplane manuals, part numbers and inventory, maintenance history, and more. The company said that will help the airlines resolve mechanical issues faster, leading to reduced flight delays and lower costs. It plans on demonstrating the apps at an aviation industry event in London this … Read more

Bombardier's CSeries jet makes first flight

Most casual aviation observers have followed the progress of new airplanes like Boeing's 787, or Airbus' A380. But for the hard-core fans, Monday offered a reason for excitement: the first flight of Bombardier's new CSeries jet.

Taking off at 12:22 p.m. ET from Montreal's Mirabel Airport, the CS100 -- a regional jet that can carry between 108 and 125 passengers -- took to the sky for a two-and-a-half hour journey. A big part of the test flight was to see how the airplane's Pratt & Whitney PW1524G engines performed.

To date, according to Airchive.com, … Read more

Would you swap toilet access for good in-flight Wi-Fi? You're not alone

Thirteen percent of US airline passengers who have used onboard Wi-Fi say they'd give up access to the bathroom for a stronger Wi-Fi signal.

That odd number is just one to come out of a new survey about in-flight Internet conducted by contractor Honeywell. Among the other conclusions? Eighty-six percent of Americans want ubiquitous onboard Wi-Fi; 9 out of 10 would happily ditch one of their favored amenities if Internet was available throughout all their domestic and international flights; and 73 percent said they use onboard Wi-Fi just because they want to, not because of an obligation, work or otherwise, to stay connected. … Read more

Jetpack man soars over U.S. alongside B-17 bomber

Next time you're stuck in traffic, just imagine soaring above it all with a personal jetpack like Yves Rossy. The Swiss adventurer just made his debut U.S. flight in grand style.

Jetman, as Rossy is known, appeared alongside a vintage B-17 bomber at the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wis., in his first public flight in the U.S.

He flew in formation with the bomber, coming within several feet of the fuselage, before parachuting to a safe landing. … Read more

Boeing shows off first fully painted 787-9 Dreamliner

Boeing has finished painting its first 787-9 Dreamliner, the follow-up plane to its troubled 787-8.

In a release issued late Friday night, the aviation giant noted that it had just finished painting the new airplane -- which will eventually be delivered to Air New Zealand -- in Boeing's new livery. The 747-8 was the first plane to sport the new livery, the company said.

"The 787-9 will complement and extend the 787 family, offering airlines the ability to grow routes opened with the 787-8," Boeing said in the release. "With the fuselage stretched by 20 feet (… Read more

Were the Wright brothers really first? Not in Brazil

Everyone knows that the American Wright brothers made aviation history when they lifted off at Kitty Hawk, N.C. on Dec. 17, 1903. But judging their place in that history is less clear when it's retold in Brazil -- especially when the subject involves the story of the country's storied local aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont.

As my colleague, Daniel Terdiman, notes in his detailed write-up of his visit to the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in Dayton, Ohio, "at the time of the Wrights' invention, there was a hot race to get the first powered aircraft aloft.&… Read more

When the Wright brothers and their 'flying machine' were new

DAYTON, Ohio -- The list of American innovation is long and storied: the first mass-produced car; the telephone; the personal computer. And, of course, the airplane.

Kitty Hawk, N.C. may be the first place that comes to mind when people think of the Wright brothers and the invention of powered, manned flight, but this southwestern Ohio town has a much deeper claim to the brothers and their invention of what they called, in their patent, a "flying machine."

A lifelong fan of airplanes and aviation, I couldn't resist the opportunity to come to Dayton on Road Trip 2013, … Read more

In Paris, Boeing unveils the 787-10 Dreamliner

Boeing today announced the 787-10 Dreamliner, the third (and longest) plane in the often-troubled 787 family, and an aircraft that the aviation giant said will be the most fuel-efficient in the industry.

The unveiling was timed to the Paris Air Show, which is being held this week in Le Bourget, France. That show is the aviation industry's biggest event of the year, with many companies working hard to make sure their latest projects can be announced, or shown, there. Boeing's chief rival, Airbus, made its long-awaited first flight of the A350 XWB on Friday to ensure that that … Read more