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Re: Boeing's Connexion announcement
On Oct 15, 2006, at 8:21 PM, John Levine wrote:
There are two different things that are being talked about here. If your seat has an obviously-meant-for-customer-use outlet, it's definitely going to be 60Hz.In addition to all of the offered AC services others have mentioned,
There are other outlets that look like regular North American outlets, but hidden behind an access panel. Usually on the floor or near a door, with no markings on the outside as to what they're for. These *are* 400Hz, and are meant for support crew to clean the aircraft with, maintenance tools, etc.
I just asked a flight attendant friend of mine about them, and she says they're present on many of the aircraft she's worked on. Initially the flight crew would look the other way when a traveller would plug their laptop in, but with a "that might fry your laptop" warning if they were feeling especially generous. Not too long ago though, they were instructed to aggressively stop people from using the outlets. Partially out of fear that someone's power supply/ battery would fail in some spectacular way at 30,000 feet, and partially because they have a lesser known secondary use.
While she's never seen any of it in use, there are medical devices designed to be able to use these outlets in an emergency or for a critically ill patient being transported. They're specially designed to accept 400Hz power, and draw more power than the seat provided passenger outlets. If you somehow popped the breaker for the 400Hz maintenance outlet, several bad things happen... They're required to reset the breaker, which is located in a very inconvenient place. Not only can they not take off if the alarm showing that this breaker is tripped is active, but there's some very slight chance that you've just broken the power feed that might be needed in an emergency.
She says she's only heard of one person breaking their laptop (or power supply, she wasn't sure) from trying to use one of those outlets with dozens more cases of seeing people using them without problem, but at least on her airline she's not allowed to look the other way if she sees anyone trying to use them anymore. She recalls at least one fight where they were delayed at the gate waiting for someone to go reset the breaker under the cabin floor to restore power to it, even though they had nobody onboard with a device that was supposed to be used in it.