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Wi-Fi at 10,000 feet.

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Hey everyone! Still alive ;-)


Apparently I'm on one of the inaugural flights for http://www.gogoinflight.com


Wireless internet in the air. Wow. OK. Maybe I'm too excited about this but I'm thinking of all the websites I would check online while stuck on an airplane for six hours and came here. Woo HOO!


Hope all are well and are as excited about this new way to stay connected that's been long overdue!


In other news I'm sure it's in another thread somewhere but I hope too see a lot of HooVille at the Rentboy.com Pool Party in Los Angeles!

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Hi Scott,


Nice to see you posting again. :-)


But I must disagree with you, I am far from excited aboiut WiFi on airlines and rue the day that cell service comes as well. I may be one of the few but I actually welcome being sealed off from connectivity at 39,000 feet. Its the only place my office can't harass me while on travel.


To have internet acess on airliners will, for many a business travler, mean the expectation to remain in contact with the boss. I use my flights as a chance to recharge and absolutely refuse to do work while on a plane. If the flight goes down (God forbid) the last thing I want to have on my mind is whether or not the email with the budget for a project got sent.


The cattle car atmosphere is bad enough (First Class isn't what it used to be either) but to have the distractions of internet and eventually the cacophony of cell phone chatter will make this already unbearable experience even worse. This service, and I use the term lightly, will be much more expensive than anticipated. I can't wait to hear the complaints of excessive charges on bills that will come long after the flights land.


Envision the disturbance when someone is surfing an adult site on a flight while sitting next to a child or someone who takes offense. Consequently the airlines are going to have to block service to plenty of web sites. I can see it now..."Flight attendant, I'd like a refund on the internet service....I can't get X-Tube."


At present cellular service is banned on US carriers while some EU carriers are about to offer it. There goes the neighborhood so to speak when that "enhancement" comes to the airline experience. Cell phones blaring away while total idiots loudly squawk away like a murder of crows. Having to listen to a seat mate make calls right up until the plane takes off is horrible enough these days.


Add continuous chatter for hours on end while trapped in a sealed aluminum tube with nowhere to escape and there's potential for serious issues to arise. Oh the fun that's going to be when one drunken loud mouth decides to argue with his exwife over the phone while on a flight to Cancun. Yep, the FA's are going to love cell phone service on flights when that day eventually comes, and it will.


So this frequent flyer will have no joy when Wifi comes to the flight experience. I'll just have to turn up the volume on the headphones, burry my head in a book, or hope the Xanax lasts till touchdown.

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It is hard not to take a knife to the throat of someone yakking endlessly on a cell phone but at least. in most cases, on the ground, you can leave the area. I can envision significant problems arising on a plane. Endless mindless chatter or perhaps interminable twittering in a language that you don't understand might be a new component of the temporary insanity murder defense.



I have never seen a purplekow;

I never hope to see one;

I can tell you anyhow;

I'd rather see than be one


Help there is a purplekow in my mirror

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Guest ryan2552

>Hi Scott,


>Nice to see you posting again. :-)


>But I must disagree with you,


>Envision the disturbance when someone is surfing an adult site

>on a flight while sitting next to a child or someone who takes

>offense. Consequently the airlines are going to have to block

>service to plenty of web sites. I can see it

>now..."Flight attendant, I'd like a refund on the

>internet service....I can't get X-Tube."



I generally agree with you.


Hopefully people won't be surfing adult sites during flight. I for one don't want to be sitting next to the straight businessman watching some straight X rated flick, jabbing me every so often and giving me that straight guy to guy nod and smile of approval about the pussy on screen. Just thinking about it makes me want to puke.


Though I wouldn't mind having Internet access to chat online with friends or read the news, music and movie reviews, make or confirm reservations and so forth.


Regarding cell phones I fear that the lack of respect Americans have for each other will result in more than a few mid-air physical attacks.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sorry I did mean to clarify and hoped the website posted would do so too:


Just the internet, no voip etc. Flight attendants are directed to not allow any kind of phone service probably for all of those great reasons :)


As to the office ... eh, it's not 100% reliable nor on every flight. They couldn't possibly know if it was working the whole time ;)

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>Just the internet, no voip etc.

>Flight attendants are directed to not allow any kind of phone service


Well, that takes care of PART of the problem. Have you noticed how NOISY using a PC has become these days? It seems when speakers became common every damn program on earth suddenly gained a voice.


Imagine a plane after takeoff, when the stewardess announces you can use laptops...


How many times will you hear ICQ's familar boot-up foghorn? Or AOL's "You've got mail". How many MySpace pages indiscriminately blast whatever music the owner likes? How many IM programs make a noise every time a message comes in? The list goes on and on. Just the Windows startup chime will cause quite enough noise. (It already does!)


The geek in me will love this. The traveler in me will hate it.

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10,000 meters = 33,000 feet

I'm sure that Scott was thinking about meters, but wrote 'feet'.


Personally, I'm all for a Wi-Fi Internet access on a plane, but would hate to see the passenger next to me screaming on a cell phone during the flight, as mostly I use that time just to relax and sleep.


Steven Draker ~

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>I'm sure that Scott was thinking about meters, but wrote



Nope, 10,000 feet.


That's allegedly when the service starts and stops in the air. Same elevation when you're legally allowed to start playing with your electronic devices as well.

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10,000 feet of altitude is when many airlines start or stop their "sterile cockpit" routine depending upon whether they are ascending or descending so it makes sense to allow passenger "toys" to begin using or stop using at that time. Sterile cockpit does not mean the crew members in there are incapable of performing any biological functions but merely they are supposed to limit their conversation and actions to flying the airplane.


Elevation usually refers to a point on earth as referenced to mean sea level while altitude usually refers to a point above the earth as referenced to mean sea level.


Best regards,


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>I for one don't want to be sitting next to the straight

>businessman watching some straight X rated flick, jabbing me

>every so often and giving me that straight guy to guy nod and

>smile of approval about the pussy on screen. Just thinking

>about it makes me want to puke.


Not me; that just got me hard. And then, after he jabs me and gives me that straight guy to guy nod and smile of approval, I slowly reach down to feel his throbbing, precum-oozing cock through his suit trousers and, pulling the blanket over us, proceed to unzip him, pull it out and suck him off. (Gotta love those red-eye flights.) :9

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The reference I saw said "once the airplane reaches 10,000 feet" or something close to that. That would refer to 10,000' MSL -- above mean sea level. The other obvious aviation choice would be 10,000' AGL -- above ground level.


Pilots use a number of different altitudes when flying and need to be able to think of each clearly. AGL refers to the height of the plane above the ground. It's used for things like the height of cloud bases.


For example, suppose you are taking off from an airport that is itself 1,500' above sea level. If the cloud bases were reported as MSL, then you'd have to subtract 1,500' feet to know how far above the ground they are. From a pilot's perspective, the height of the cloud bases above the grounds is the critical piece of information. Regulations concerning whether a flight can be legally conducted refer to cloud bases (actually to ceilings, which is the lowest altitude at which the sky is largely overcast). So it's much more useful to know that the ceiling is 5000' AGL than it would be to know that it's 6500' MSL.


For many (most) flight operations, it's critical to know how high you are above the ground (think of landings). But there's no instrument in the plane that gives you the absolute height of the plane above the ground at any point (no downward-looking radar, for example). Instead, the instrument in the cockpit that reports altitude is the altimeter and it does this based on the pressure of the atmosphere where the plane is at any given moment. It's essentially a very sensitive barometer but it's subject to error based on non-standard temperatures or pressures. If the plane's altimeter is reporting that the plane is at 2500' MSL and the pilot knows that the airport he's approaching is at 500' MSL, then the pilot knows he's 2000' above the ground. It's a roundabout way of getting back to how far you are above the earth.


Because pressure and temperature are local phenomena, airports and air traffic control report the altimeter settings that pilots should use. Pilots use the setting to adjust the altimeter for local conditions. Over the course of a flight, the altimeter will need to be periodically readjusted or it will report an incorrect height. GPS also reports altitude but will usually report a different altitude than the altimeter. Pilots may be aware of the GPS altitude but will fly based on the altimeter and many small planes don't have GPS at all.


Once a plane reaches 18,000' feet, pilots set the altimeter back to 29.92 inches of mercury -- sea level. From then on until the plane descends back below 18,000', the plane will fly at "flight levels", as directed by ATC. If you are following a flight with your personal GPS, you might find that you're seeing the plane flying at 29,350' or some odd number, it doesn't mean that the pilot is lost or screwed up. He or she is simply flying at a flight level. 29,350' could easily be FL290 -- "flight level two niner zero" -- but it could also be FL300. It depends on the atmospheric conditions that day. The important thing isn't that a plane is a certain number of feet above the ground on that day but rather that all of the planes are flying with the same reference so Air Traffic Control can keep them separate.


Separation of traffic is the primary responsibility of ATC and we're all grateful that they do so, of course. By making sure that all planes above 18,000' are flying at Flight Levels, ATC accomplishes two things: (1) relieves pilots of fast-moving planes of the need to make constant changes to the altimeter and (2) provides a way for pilots and ATC to have a standard reference for altitude. If you have a 747 flying west at FL290 and a 777 flying east at FL300, it doesn't matter if they're really at 29,350' and 30,375' MSL. All that matters is that there's a vertical separation between them of about 1,000'.


Back to the original mention of 10,000'. As KMEM notes, it's not a question of regulations; no FARS (Federal Aviation Regulations) prohibit such use below 10,000'. Instead, it's likely that carrier operations have decided that it's easier for everyone (especially flight attendants) if portable electronic devices are stowed at the beginning and ending of a flight. 10,000' MSL is an easy reference for a pilot because all he has to do is look at the altimeter and read the setting. If the company decided to use 10,000 AGL instead, well you'd have to ask above WHAT ground?


Suppose you're taking off from LAX. The elevation of the airport is 125'. So does that mean you'd wait until you reach 10,125'? But if you did you'd no longer be over LAX. At that point, you might be over Ontario. But the elevation of Ontario airport is 944'. So do you now wait until you're at 10,944'? You see the difficulty and why MSL is so helpful. Granted, a plane departing from an airport like Denver (elevation 5341') will likely reach 10,000' MSL sooner than one departing from LAX. But the difference will be small and not important.


On a related note, we've all been told by flight attendants that the FAA has prohibited the use of cell phones during flight. That is not true. There are no FARS prohibiting the use of cell phones in flight. The FCC has prohibited the use of certain cell phones in flight except when the pilot deems it necessary for the continued safety of the flight. But the "cell phones" defined by the FCC regulations define devices that transmit on certain frequencies, namely the old analog band frequencies. So, effectively, there is no current governmental ban on the use of cell phones on planes.


However, the FARS give each pilot the authority to regulate the use of electronic devices during a flight. So the airlines use that authority to implement whatever restrictions they wish to impose.

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Boston Guy,


Most of what you said is correct but some of it is a bit misleading.


Once you realize where the observer is, how altitudes are employed becomes much more clear. If the observer is on the ground it makes perfect sense to refer to clouds as AGL. However, when in flight, the observer (the pilot) is in the air and clouds are referred to as MSL. Both of those observations would need a correction applied if the user was not in the same relative place (air or ground) as the observer.


When the pilot is on the ground and the ceiling is reported as 900 overcast and the airport has an elevation of 1000 MSL he knows when he climbs through an inidcated (MSL) altitude of 1900 feet he will enter the clouds. So, again, depending upon where the user might be, calculations will need to be made. There is no escaping this.


When making an instrument approach, both the MSL and AGL numbers are available for reference. This is because the aircraft is near to the ground and so that the radar altimeters, which do measure height above the ground, can be useful. Most radar altimeters stop at about 2500 feet (AGL). The AGL numbers are depicted on an approach plate and not supplied by US ATC controllers. In fact, most of what you and I have written does not necessarily apply outside of the USA.


I think most GA aircraft, at least those likely to be on an instrument flight plan, will have GPS these days. However, to have accurate altitude information the GPS must be equipped with WAAS which is an additional signal used by the GPS to provide very accurate vertical guidance which, after all, is the point of knowing how far above the ground one might be, isn't it?


Flight levels were partly used because altimeters were not sensitive enough to guarantee separation even with both having the "same" error. As you know, until last year above 30,000 feet (FL 300)they separated aircraft by 2,000 feet vertically. Now, with RVSM, which is better altimetry, they use the same 1,000 feet they do at lower altitudes. Still using the standard setting of 29.92 inches Hg. Imagine you are in a 10,000 pound gross weight Citation or one of the new VLJ's (as little as 6,000 pounds) at FL 310 and will cross a 950,000 pound 747-400 head on at FL 320. This would be perfectly legal but as that cloud of aluminum gets closer and closer to you, it is all but impossible to not wish you were elsewhere.


Actually, it is a question of regulations. When an airline adopts a procedure, even if only for their airline, and puts it into their operations manual it has the force of becoming an FAR. Some airlines use FL 180 as the transition altitude to discontinue the sterile cockpit, most use 10,000 feet. Whichever they choose and put into writing becomes an FAR for them.


As for cell phones, I think in a roundabout way you have proven my point, if the airline puts it into writing it has the force of an FAR.


I do not intend this post as a slam on you, BG. There are a lot of rules and regulations regarding flying and what makes flying so fascinating is that one will never know every thing there is to know about it.


I did not intend this post as a primer. There are any number of points neither BG or I brought up or fully covered.


Best regards,


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I agree that position of the observer will make a difference. However, as you know, ceilings reported in METARs, TAFs, etc. are all AGL. One could make the case that this information is primarily for flight planning and, hence, for pilots on the ground prior to flight. But if I'm flying to an airport and decide to listen to the ASOS from the cockpit, the sky condition (few, scattered, etc.) will still be reported as AGL -- not MSL.


Regarding GPS onboard, I think it's tempting to think that most IFR-certified aircraft will have GPS but I'm not so sure. There are a lot of planes that are still flying with VORs (and even ADF) and still more that have LORAN instead of GPS. Certainly, a fair number of pilots are going to have a Garmin x96 aboard or some other equivalent. (I hear interesting reports about the new ATC from Anywheremap.) Beyond IFR, though, I think I'd have to lean on the side of most aircraft not having GPS, even if their pilots do bring them on board as a portable. And I kind of like that. There's something not quite right about adding a GPS to a yellow J-3 Cub. ;-)


This has been an interesting dialog. It may be a first for these forums. :)


When most people think about flying, they think about the airlines. No surprise there: the total number of pilots in the US is a touch under 2/10 of 1 percent of the population. Put another way, 99.8 percent of the population does not know how to fly a plane. So most people's experience with flying is as a passenger.


Nevertheless, last year, GA (General Aviation) flew more hours in the US than did the airlines, by quite a large margin. People forget all of the myriad ways that pilots help keep society humming, beyond those of us who do it simply because it brings us joy.


Are you on Red, Blue or Purple at all?


Best regards to you, too. Or should I say blue skies?


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Hey there BG,


I am sure we have bored most readers with our details but the details sometimes keep one alive.


My point about the position of the observer was to go to the origination of who used AGL, MSL and why. METARS (airport weather conditions) are gathered and reported by ground observers. It would be counterproductive for them to report in MSL, as you pointed out, the airport and surrounds have various elevations, so they report what they see from where the equipment is installed.


Pilots in flight however report what they encounter. If the bottoms (bases) of the clouds are 10,000 feet, they will report them as 10,000 feet MSL and if they climb through these clouds and emerge at 12,000 feet, they will report that as tops are 12,000 feet MSL.


Perhaps I should say most serious IFR planes have GPS. I have only encountered one J-3 that was well equipped for IFR and that belonged to an airline captain who lived 20 miles from TPA and used it to go to work at TPA. However, I am trying to make a distinction between having on board the legal avionics for IFR and, not only that, but also the aircraft itself being a cross country machine. Everyone has a different opinion for that.


I am not nearly so worried about the 99% who don't know how to fly as I am about the 1% or less who claim to. :)


As you can tell from my MB name I live at the world headquarters for purple but do not work for them.


I have a blue sky card which is simply cardboard with two holes punched in it. When held up to the sky, it always is blue. :)


In other words, I am going anyway.


Best regards,


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LOL ... you got me! I wasn't thinking of PIREPS. :-) Yes, KMEM, was pretty easy. But I was wondering if you participated in any of the colored forums.


By the way, a year or so ago, I hired an escort who turned out to be a pilot. I've lost his contact info but he was quite a nice guy and a rotorhead. We were both rather surprised, to say the least. :D



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Well this did not take as long as I thought it would. I can't believe that AA did not have sense enough to block porn sites before activating internet service on these flights.










By CLEMENTE LISI, Bloomberg News

Last updated: 10:34 am

September 16, 2008

Posted: 4:17 am

September 16, 2008


Coffee, tea . . . porn?


Flight attendants are urging American Airlines to filter its in-flight Internet service to block passengers' access to raunchy pornographic Web sites.


The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said both employees and passengers have raised "a lot of complaints" since the WiFi service was put in place as part of a test project on several cross-country flights out of Kennedy Airport last month, Bloomberg News reported.


"We have brought the issue to management's attention, since we've heard a lot of complaints from flight attendants and passengers about the issue," said association spokesman David Roscow.


American Airlines began offering Internet access for $12.95 on 25 daily flights starting Aug. 20 between JFK and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami.


The association said it met with AA officials and called on them to install filters to block offensive content.


Although the move to carry WiFi access on planes has created a new revenue stream for the ailing aviation industry, it also has created new headaches as passengers retrieve sensitive e-mails and adult Web sites in tight quarters.


Still, the "vast majority" of air travelers use good judgment in what they view, said Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines.


"Customers viewing inappropriate material on board a flight is not a new scenario for our crews, who have always managed this issue with great success," he said.


Passengers have been allowed to bring porno mags and personal DVDs on board flights.


Smith called the program part of a six-month trial that is to be reassessed next year.


He added that the Texas-based airline has not agreed to the flight attendants' request to have objectionable Web sites blocked.


"We will obviously assess this concern, as well, including the number of actual incidents reported [of passengers surfing porn] and any other related issues," he said.


Blogger David Carnoy, writing on the technology site CNET News, sided with flight attendants in a recent posting.


"Moral majority aside, I can see where the flight attendants are coming from," he wrote. "They're the ones who have to deal with passengers' complaints and will be forced to regulate what people are looking at."


Despite the complaints, the airline industry has said the introduction of WiFi could also allow carriers to get rid of music and video equipment, trimming maintenance costs.


JetBlue, which currently provides Web access on several routes, said it has installed filtering software to keep inappropriate Internet content grounded.


Delta and Southwest have said that they plan to have wireless Web service in place by next year but that they have yet to decide whether to use blockers.

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