Meeting Notice

The Southeastern Michigan IEEE EMC Society

and the

IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society and Communications Society Southeastern Michigan Chapter (AESS and ComSoc SEM)




Wireless Aboard Aircraft, Why All The Fuss?


Slides  Air Transat Flight 961

Speaker: Doug Hughes


Date: Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Time: 5:30 PM


Location: Fairlane Campus - U of M Dearborn (Map Code FCN)

University of Michigan
School of Management
Fairlane Center
North - Room 116
19000 Hubbard Drive
Dearborn, MI 48126

Driving Directions

Please pre-register for this free event online at:



Registration Deadline: 10 AM on the day of the event

Schedule of Events


5:30 – 6:00 Pizza and Refreshments provided by:  Dynamic Control



6:00 – 7:30 Presentation

The Chapter Presentation is a FREE event.  IEEE Non-Members Welcome!

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"Wireless Aboard, Why All The Fuss?”

Probably the most common question the passengers in those seats next to you on the airplane have, after you tell him/her that you are an EMC specialist, concerns the portable electronics safety announcement.  This presentation will attempt to summarize the 50-year history of the 14 CFR Section 91.21 safety announcements into an hour – but it’ll be longer with questions & answers.  Everyone is an expert on this subject – just ask them.  All or most other nations plus the USA Department of Defense have adopted similar policies and safety announcements.  They aren’t going away in spite of the press releases from various portable electronic and wireless manufacturers.  The very sound reasons will be summarized.  Our presenter’s involvement with the subject and various EMI studies will be overviewed.  Some of the technical issues will also be highlighted.  There will be no equations presented – maybe.  We always need to know spherical spreading.


This subject is worthy of a week-long seminar.  In order to shorten it , each attendee is encouraged to do some homework.  It might be covered on the final exam.  At least you’ll get extra credit points toward your next on-board conversation.

1.     Download and read FAA Advisory Circular AC 91.21-1B from:

2.     Watch an excellent recent ABC News feature on the subject available from:

(bear with the short pay-the-bills commercial at the start)

3.   Take your favorite Apple personal portable electronic device (PED) into the chamber, the next time you are set up to do radiated emissions testing, and record the emissions from 100-2000 MHz, which covers most of the communications and navigation avionics bands.

4.     Be prepared to share your favorite on-board story.

If interest warrants, Doug will return in the future for more airplane EMI and safety investigation stories/lessons learned.  Some of the same EMI problems found on aircraft are also found on automobiles.  Retirees always enjoy a chance to talk shop


Mr. Douglas (Doug) J. Hughes received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy (now MO S&T), Rolla in 1963, and a M.S. Communications Theory from The George Washington University in 1971.  He retired to Ann Arbor in the summer of 2005 after an interesting 42-year career in EMC/E3/Spectrum Management.  He spent five years with McDonnell Aircraft/ McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis and 37 years in Annapolis, MD working for the technical support contractors (IITRI/Alion) at the DoD Joint Spectrum Center (ex ECAC).  He received excellent EMC training in St. Louis from Gus Weinstock, Walt McKerchar, Roy Soldanels, and Phil McBrayer.  His early mentors in Annapolis were Mike Lustgarten, Al Baker, and John Scott.  He quickly became a mentor in Annapolis for E3 issues.  He retired as one of the employee owners of Alion Science and Technology.

Doug authored or coauthored 27 JSC/ECAC reports, seven technical notes, over 1000 equipment spectrum certification technical reviews, one NATO/ARFA Symposium Paper, two papers to RTCA, one RF Technology Expo 88 Paper, two papers to the DoD E3 Program Reviews, one IEEE ICC Symposium Paper, one IEEE EMC Symposium Paper, Tab J-3 of the USAF CT-43A 73-01149 Aircraft Accident Investigation Board Report, and the last paragraph on page 160 of NTSB’s TWA 800 Accident Investigation Report.  He is a full member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators with 31 safety & accident investigations - all E3 related.

In keeping with a long IEEE SEM EMC chapter tradition, Doug holds the amateur radio call sign W3HO, although inactive.  He keeps the license since it was tough to get back in 1957.  He also held NARTE NCE-188 (inactive) and was a member of the NARTE Examination Question Review Panel.  The grandfather-submitted questions left a lot to be desired.  Doug authored as many as 37 questions in the iNARTE NCE examination study guide, including the autocorrelation one with third-harmonic emission bandwidths.

Doug’s professional profile was presented in Bill Duff’s column in the Fall 2004 IEEE EMC Society quarterly newsletter:

Speaker: Mr. Doug Huges


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