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How To Crash An In-flight Entertainment System  
User currently offlineClickhappy From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 9635 posts, RR: 68
Posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 12999 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
PHOTO SCREENER

Interesting read.

One of the most interesting examples of a software "abuse case" came to me rather abruptly on an airplane flight from Las Vegas to Orlando in mid 2005.

http://blogs.csoonline.com/node/151

Sounds like a Song flight?

40 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAirTranTUS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 12836 times:

That's really interesting. Looks like it would be fun to try.

User currently offlineMX757 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 628 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 12808 times:

Quoting Clickhappy (Thread starter):
Interesting read.

Very interesting indeed.

Quote:
The entire plane entertainment system goes down (and thankfully the cascading system failure didn't spill over to the plane navigation system)!

That would not happen. Even though newer IFE systems do receive information from the navigation system it's on a "one-way" basis. The Navs send info to the IFE, but do not receive any back.

This gentleman has way to much time on his hands.



Is it broke...? Yeah I'll fix it.
User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21534 posts, RR: 59
Reply 3, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 12782 times:

What maliciousness! It's barely even a bug. It's someone ACTIVELY trying to crash a system, and frankly, I've yet to find a system that does anything that doesn't have a way to do this.

What a jerk.



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineEXAAUADL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 12757 times:

Quoting AirTranTUS (Reply 1):
That's really interesting. Looks like it would be fun to try.

So are civil and criminal lawsuits


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6398 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 12693 times:

 rotfl   rotfl   rotfl   rotfl   rotfl   rotfl   rotfl 

Thanks, Royal, for lauging me to tears. You wonder how the IFE designers could have missed this in Beta testing...(if indeed they did it). If IFEMaster is around, he can share with us how poorly designed these systems actually are...that's what happens when companies bid low to bankrupt carriers, unfortunately.  Sad



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineMaverickM11 From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 17544 posts, RR: 46
Reply 6, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 12691 times:

God I hated Computer Science....but that's pretty cool. Not very nice but pretty cool.


E pur si muove -Galileo
User currently offlineCorsair1107 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 121 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 12610 times:

I'd be pissed if some computer nerd crashed the IFE on a long flight.


Flown on: DHC-6/8, F100, B1900C, 717, 727, 737, 757, 767, 777, 319, 320, C152/172, E135/145, DC-9, MD-83/88 CL600
User currently offlineAvt007 From Canada, joined Jul 2000, 2132 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 12463 times:

I read through the first page of blogs, and had enough. IFE is a pain to maintain as it is, without some yahoo trying to crash it. Now the FA writes it up, the avionics guys try to fix a non existent snag, time and money wasted because this twit can't sit and watch a movie, no, he has to dink with the system.

User currently offlineAirTranTUS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 12146 times:

Quoting EXAAUADL (Reply 4):
Quoting AirTranTUS (Reply 1):
That's really interesting. Looks like it would be fun to try.

So are civil and criminal lawsuits

The guy didn't do anything criminal. It's not like something bad happened. Is someone going to sue because they missed 10 minutes of 'A Baby Story' on TLC? I doubt it.

The programmers made a mistake, and this guy found it.


User currently offlineTheCol From Canada, joined Jan 2007, 2039 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 12007 times:

Quoting Avt007 (Reply 8):
Now the FA writes it up, the avionics guys try to fix a non existent snag, time and money wasted

Yeah, that's gotta be a pet peeve of every AME. It already happens enough with other systems on the plane.



No matter how random things may appear, there's always a plan.
User currently offlineTugger From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 5628 posts, RR: 8
Reply 11, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 11927 times:

I found this interesting, buried down in the follow-on posts:
"Also, should the person who came up with the idea of using a 2.5mm jack to supply power to noise-canceling headphones read this, you own me a new set of earphones for my PDA. Jacks are almost always audio - I assumed it was a 2.5mm in order to force people to pay for the airline headphones on the flight. As I happened to have a set of phones with a 2.5mm connector, I pluged them in, and they immediately exploded in my ears."

Anyone ever seen this?

Tug



I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6398 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 11883 times:

Quoting Tugger (Reply 11):
Anyone ever seen this?

Tug

IIRC, the old 2.5 mm plug was used for the "pause" switch on ancient (1970's vintage!) casette recorders...I think you get what you deserve when you go plugging things in to jacks that you have no idea what they are  Wink



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineTugger From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 5628 posts, RR: 8
Reply 13, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 11841 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 12):
I think you get what you deserve when you go plugging things in to jacks that you have no idea what they are

Hey now! I always try to get the name of the person that I'm........ Oh, you said "what" not "who"...... Nevermind.  blush 

Actually the follow-on reply posts are pretty damned funny too. Reads just like our forum in some ways. Just imagine what someone from the "outside world" must think when they read through our postings!  Smile

Aviation geeks, meet Tech geeks!

Tug



I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
User currently offlineCXfirst From Norway, joined Jan 2007, 3071 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 11829 times:

That would be fun to try, maybe right before landing so it doesn't annoy as many people Big grin

-CXfirst



From Norway, live in Australia
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6398 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days ago) and read 11776 times:

Quoting Tugger (Reply 13):
Aviation geeks, meet Tech geeks!

Tug

Actually, I hear it is quite possible to be both...  Wink My Bachelor of Science on Computer Science I think puts me squarely into the Tech geeks category  Smile



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineTugger From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 5628 posts, RR: 8
Reply 16, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days ago) and read 11744 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 15):
Bachelor of Science on Computer Science

I knew a few of those from my day days at Riddle! And they were definitely, squarely in "that" catagory. Kinda sad if you think about it!  Big grin But not much more so than when I try to explain to people why I got my Aviation Business Administration degree there when I am not a pilot type.  Wink

Tug



I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
User currently offlineSJCRRPAX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days ago) and read 11658 times:

I think someone is pulling our legs here. Normally, the games are self contained. The movies and the radio run on what is essentially a cable-tv system and a tuner selects the program. About the only way you can crash your neighbors IFE system is by kicking their chair. Interesting story, but more likely the power was cut to the entire IFE system while the Pilot made an announcement about air turbulance, and the PAX assumed that programming Tetris for 128 crashed the entire IFE system. Call me a skeptic, but much more likely to be a random coincidence.

User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21534 posts, RR: 59
Reply 18, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 11478 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 12):
IIRC, the old 2.5 mm plug was used for the "pause" switch on ancient (1970's vintage!) casette recorders...I think you get what you deserve when you go plugging things in to jacks that you have no idea what they ar

They are clearly there for the purpose explained. POWERED headphones of various types. Currently they are used for noise canceling headphones, but they were also used for hi-fi headphones.

And they are spaced in a triangle with the twin 3.5 mm plugs, and the plug sure as heck looks like a single stereo jack with a smaller plug. Since many phones and PDA used this 2.5mm plug, you are going to get more people frying their headphones by sending DC power into them.

There is no indication on this jack that it is POWER not audio, and such an indicator should be there. It's dangerous not to label live power plugs in a public settings.



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlinePtugarin From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 326 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 11448 times:

I see 21st century terrorism as follows;
1) Terrorist A (Programmer) introduces an "Easter Egg" into an avionics program that never gets caught during QA testing
2) Terrorist B (Pilot) presses the secret key combination
3) No one ever figures out why plane crashed


User currently offlineSCCutler From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 5533 posts, RR: 28
Reply 20, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 11432 times:

I found that the IFE on the TN A340 could be crashed by playing a game on it for a while. Then, after about five minutes, it would reboot and back in play again. Irritating, but hardly life-changing.


...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
User currently offlineLincoln From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3887 posts, RR: 8
Reply 21, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 11419 times:

Quoting Tugger (Reply 11):
Jacks are almost always audio - I assumed it was a 2.5mm in order to force people to pay for the airline headphones on the flight

Well...that's what someone gets for 'assuming' especially when they note "Jacks are almost always audio" (uh... no. Come visit my world some day and you will cower in fear at the sheer number of things that you can find on a TRS jack... even more so when you broaden that out to jacks in general.

Lincoln



CO Is My Airline of Choice || Baggage Claim is an airline's last chance to disappoint a customer || Next flts in profile
User currently offlineHaggis79 From Germany, joined Jun 2006, 1096 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 11419 times:

Quoting Ptugarin (Reply 19):
I see 21st century terrorism as follows;
1) Terrorist A (Programmer) introduces an "Easter Egg" into an avionics program that never gets caught during QA testing
2) Terrorist B (Pilot) presses the secret key combination
3) No one ever figures out why plane crashed

with point 3) making the whole thing totally uninteresting for terrorists...

maybe you should stop seeing terrorists everywhere....



300 310 319/20/21 332/3 343 AT4/7 143 B19 732/3/4/5/G/8/9 742/4 752/3 763/4 77E/W CR2/7/9 D95 E45/70 F50 F70 100 M11 M90
User currently offlineRampart From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 3142 posts, RR: 6
Reply 23, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 10832 times:

Quoting SJCRRPAX (Reply 17):
but much more likely to be a random coincidence.

Though not nearly as funny.


User currently offlineSymphonik From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 154 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 10304 times:

This is only somewhat related, but back in the day on United, there used to be a great hack for the GTE Airfones. When I was but a young lad, travelling with my dad and his laptop, I discovered you could press "9" on the Airfone while it was still in the cradle, and all of a sudden it would say something to the effect of:

Please connect the data port

One time I tried it, and sure enough, free modem calls!

I did this for months and months until one flight I discovered they had fixed the hack. This was probably about 1993 or so.

These days, I'd be sent to Gitmo for something like that, I suspect.  Smile


25 Post contains images Noelg : That's hilarious - had me in stitches that you could bring down the entire IFE system with one button press! At least the F/A reset the system and fi
26 Domokun : 4) Have a federal requirement that the source for all crucial systems be documented and archived. Same sort of situation, minus terrorists, can happe
27 Runway23 : They aren't anymore. What you are discribing is the old systems. Delta/Song's IFE is run on Linux with the music, films games being on demand. The sy
28 Corey07850 : Ok I'll bite: "To give myself the biggest advantage in the game, I pressed the + control as many times as it would allow and got to the maximum value
29 StarGuy : For anyone considering trying to crash an airlines IFE inflight, let me point one thing out, You are the very same people that come on this site an sl
30 Post contains images JuniorSpotter : Jesus H Christ... I'm probably gonna get flamed now, but after seeing so many of you climbing the walls over this innocent prank, I ask myself how you
31 DeC : Seems that too many people watch too many movies on terrorism.
32 Post contains images InnocuousFox : What a riot! Being a programmer (who also happens to be working on an airline management simulation), this really strikes home with me! I love it!
33 Post contains images Daleaholic : You clearly did not read the article... He's saying how many pieces from the tetris game show up on his screen prior to falling
34 StarGoldLHR : No, if you want a day to day example (for those non-avionics geeks) Using tetris on citrix in the same example can produce the same result. At the en
35 IFEMaster : Happy to oblige. It's not so much the design from a conceptual point of view, but the poor implementation of that design. I posted this in the tech f
36 IFEMaster : This is not universally true. While there are systems out there that use this method, there are plenty of systems out there that isolate the image to
37 BlueFlyer : Why is this the preferred type of architecture, is it related to the limited capacity of the server, or of the network connection from the server to
38 IFEMaster : It's not necessarily the preferred. Preference is dependent on design brief. However, it certainly is one of the most efficient and error-trapping wa
39 BlueFlyer : Thanks. Very interesting reply, especially for someone (me) working in a "traditional" IT field where "a bank of a few servers" is the preferred solu
40 IFEMaster : The weight issue is really the major factor with my clients. They're paying for their fuel out of their own pocket, so need to keep weight down. More
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