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The mainstream media and the airline community had equal and opposite reactions to rumors that a hacker had broken into an airplane’s flight controls last week. On the “panic” side of the equation, CNN led the charge by pointing to FBI reports suggesting that one Chris Roberts had hacked into an airline’s in flight entertainment system and “…caused one of the airplane engines to climb resulting in a lateral or sideways movement.” Others were more dubious. NYC Aviation called the entire exercise “bull” while the Runway Girl Network took a more measured approach. Our own Marisa Garcia also chatted with numerous Airbus and communication experts who patently refute any hacking claims.

The truth is probably somewhere in between all of the arm waving and pundity. While it’s surely possible to tap into an airplane’s in flight entertainment system, I’m sure that Boeing and Airbus have set up entirely independent systems to run flight operations and entertainment. Local, in-flight network security, as Mr. Roberts points out, could surely use some reinforcement, but it’s going to be a real surprise if the kid in 32A can get control of the flight deck.

Social Quote of the Day

@Sidragon1 hacked my fitbit, now my feet walk sideways”(cc @tobypinder)


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Singapore Airlines’ New Premium Economy Class Was Worth the Wait: Singapore Airlines has innovated a number of product offerings and been the launch customer for cutting-edge aircraft in the past, but it has recently contended with rivals’ new cabin launches, waiting on the wings to decide what to do about its fourth cabin class. Read more at Skift

The FAA Will Allow Cockpit E-Mails in Attempt to Reduce Delays: The scratchy and time-consuming radio transmissions that pilots use to communicate route changes before taking off from airports may soon be a thing of the past for some airlines. Read more at Skift

Lufthansa Wants to Drug Test Its Pilots: The chief executive of German airline Lufthansa says unannounced tests to check pilots for prescription drugs might help improve air safety. Read more at Skift

Brazilian Airfares Rise as Flight Demand Picks Up: Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA, the second-largest airline in Brazil, is raising fares on signs that demand has stopped a yearlong decline. Read more at Skift

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Poland’s New Airport is the Latest that Europe Doesn’t Need: It’s easy to understand why Szymany, a former military airstrip set amid dense forest in northeastern Poland, would have appealed to the CIA. Read more at Skift

5 Bright Ideas That Could One Day Make Flying Better (Or Even Fun): Airbus persistently asks just that, soliciting students from around the world to submit ideas that can help make commercial air travel more efficient and sustainable someday. Read more at Skift

Heathrow Airport Expansion Must Go Through Historic Village: With its classic red phone booth, pub, and medieval church, Harmondsworth’s center looks quintessentially British. But the search for a twee English village isn’t what brings millions of people within a stone’s throw of its boundaries. Read more at Skift

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The Most Successful Trip Planning App Still Comes in a Paper Version: As more tech gets introduced every day promising to make trip planning simpler (though not always fulfilling that promise) it’s easy to forget about a travel company such as AAA that’s been around for years. We’ve seen our fair share of trip planning startups and apps and we feel AAA’s TripTik is still the best thing to happen in this space since it’s a map personally customized for each traveler — and people actually use it. Read more at Skift

Uber Closes In on Its Last Frontier: Airports: American airports, aware that the tidal wave of acceptance of the ride-hailing phenomenon will not recede, are gradually rewriting regulations to welcome all manner of cars. Read more at the New York Times

Classic Travel Watches For People Who Have Lots of Time on their Hands: The Rolex GMT-Master made its debut in the 1950s. While it wasn’t the first travel-focused watch, it definitely set the standard and cemented the connection between timepieces and globetrotting. Read more at Skift

Hacking In-Flight Entertainment Is Harder Than Hackers Would Have You Believe: For better or worse, hacker Chris Roberts has made a name for himself as that guy who hacked in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems and claimed to make his plane fly sideways. Read more at Skift

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Handy Enters Vacation Rental Ecosystem With New Host Services: On-demand home cleaning service Handy this week announced a new product created specifically for vacation rental hosts. The new service, launching in New York, San Francisco, LA and London, allows hosts to book services such as check-in and check-out cleanings, linen supplies, laundry and key swaps. Read more at Skift

The Fate of the Four Seasons Hangs in the Balance: Even for many thick-skinned New Yorkers, who know that fluctuations in fashion and finance mean that nothing here lasts forever, talking about the future of the Four Seasons restaurant has become a source of unfiltered sadness. Read more at the New York Times

The Largest Hotel in the World Will Open in Mecca in 2017: Bigger is always better is the semi-official mantra of Middle East hotels – Dubai, Qatar, Oman, we’re looking at you. But now Saudi Arabia has gone better, with the largest hotel in the world planned for Mecca. Read more at Hotel Chatter

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Photo Credit: In-flight entertainment isn't the threat to safety CNN would have you believe. Davity Dave / Flickr