Re: Powering portables in flight...

Organization: A Turbulent One
Date:         26 Jan 94 04:12:56 PST
References:   1
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In article <airliners.1994.885@ohare.Chicago.COM>,
(Phydeaux) wrote:
> As a lot of flyers travel with portable electronic equipment, how difficult
> would it be for airlines to provide power for these devices?  The question
> has been in my mind for some time, but I just realized how they could do
> it.  
> The car cigarette lighter (12v-13.4vDC) seems like the most universal
> receptacle for these things.  Most manufacturers of portable equipment
> offer power adapters that will run things off of this kind of outlet.
> I assume the main reason this is not available is because nobody ever asked
> about it.  Also, portable computers, my primary interest in this, have only
> really become prolific in the last few years.  I can also imagine a plane
> full of 400 people all of whom have things plugged in.  I guess you'd
> probably need a lot of equipment to power all of that stuff.  Perhaps they
> could only offer it to the first class cabin. Perhaps battery technology
> has improved so over the years that this is not really a necessity after
> all. 

Personally, I can't see too much enthusiasm for this approach.  There'd be
aircraft weight impacts and electrical power distribution complications
neither the airframe manufacturers nor the airlines would want to deal
with, in my opinion.  12 volt DC power is not a very common commodity in
aircraft, if memory serves.  Some kind of power converter scheme would be
needed in the aircraft if 12 volt DC power were to be the standard. 
Alternatively, a standard aircraft power source (28 volt DC, 400 Hz AC,
etc.) could be used, with the computers having the requisite converter
adapters.  In any case, if power sources of some kind were contemplated in
transport aircraft for consumer computer equipment use, several issues
would have to be addressed:

1)  The need to "klutz-proof" the power sources so that the aircraft power
system is not jeopardized by passenger abuse, etc.

2)  The added power bus noise to the aircraft's electrical system from 400
consumer computers (or whatever the worst-case number would be for a
certain aircraft type) would have to be studied to determine if a given
aircraft's avionics can still operate properly under such conditions.

3)  The susceptibility of consumer computer gear to electrical transients
normally encountered in aircraft operation would have to be considered and
dealt with, lest the manufacturers & airlines get hassled by angry
passengers whose computers were upset/damaged by power transients.

I'm sure there would be other considerations, but I didn't want to let this
get too long.  Just my 2 cents worth.