The Chicago-based Airplane company wanted to give their passengers a more reliable connectivity while in the air. They have made several steps to improve connectivity, but are still looking to eliminate all weak spots.
In order to obtain results, the company needs to have passengers in the test. But knowing that it will be difficult for them to ask passengers to sit motionless for several days, Boeing bought 20,000 pounds of potatoes for the test.
Boeing spokesman Adam Tischler said: “That’s where potatoes come into the picture. It’s a testament to the ingenuity of these engineers. They didn’t go in with potatoes as the plan.”
The potatoes were used as replacement for stand-in passengers after the Boeing Test and Evaluation laboratories found out that human and potatoes have similar physical interactions with electronic signal properties.
In a statement posted on their official website, Boeing said: “This technology was first developed to more thoroughly and efficiently ensure that signal propagation met the regulatory safety standards that protect against interference with an aircraft’s critical electrical systems.”
“Initially using a de-commissioned airplane, the team from Boeing Test & Evaluation laboratories conducted a series of such tests. The team determined that potatoes were ideal stand-ins for passengers, given their similar physical interactions with electronic signal properties.”
According to the company, the use of potatoes made the test more accurate and faster, taking only about 10 hours that is significantly faster than previous tests that took more than two weeks.
Boeing also said that they made sure that the much-improved Wi-Fi signals will not affect the sensitive navigation and communication equipments of their airplanes.
In a CNN interview, Tischler said: “One of the wonderful aspects of our improved testing is that we can describe both strong and weak signals with incredible accuracy. Engineers who are concerned primarily with operational safety on airplane can see if the strong signals are safe for the airplane’s communication and navigation systems.”
Tischler also revealed that they are planning to use the procedure again in future test, saying that the procedure could be utilized in test any kind of signal.