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Boeing 747s Still Use Floppy Disks to Get Critical Software Updates

Gizmodo: “….The discovery comes courtesy of cybersecurity firm Pen Test Partners and was initially spotted by The Register. As part of this year’s virtual DEF CON hacker conference, Pen Test Partners showed off a video walkthrough of a British Airways 747 after the airline decided to retire its entire fleet last month due to the global pandemic. The roughly 10-minute tour is a neat glimpse into the plane’s rarely seen avionics bay and cockpit—where Pen Test Partners discovered a 3.5-inch floppy disk drive. Apparently, the drive is the 747’s navigation database loader and needs to be updated every 28 days. As in, some poor engineer has to visit each 747-400 and manually deliver updates… or the planes wouldn’t be able to fly. And it’s not just the 747s. Per the Verge, the majority of Boeing 737s are also updated via floppy disks. Operators these planes, according to a 2014 Aviation Today report, have binders full of floppy disks for “all the avionics that they may need.” That includes important information like airports, runways, flight paths, and waypoints used by pilots to make flight plans. It also sounds horribly inefficient, as while some systems may only require one floppy disk of updates, others could require as many as eight floppy disks…”

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