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I recently flew for the first time on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, registered A7-BCY. This aircraft had the universal symbol for wifi externally displayed beside the entrance door, and as wifi on an aircraft was another first for me I was keen to try it out. Which I did, without much fanfare.

The wifi used to provide internet access was named along the lines of "OneAir", which is consistent with the name of that airline's connectivity/On-board entertainment services.

What intrigued me was that there was a second wifi network available (albeit secured from public access) which was named with the aircraft's registration "A7-BCY" in the SSID of the network.

What is the purpose of this network? What data would you be able to access/see if you were to connect to it using a laptop (for example)?

(Note: I know there have been some questions here and on computer security regarding the vulnerability of modern airliners to hackers - I'm less interested in "doomsday scenarios" with this technology, and more interested on what legitimate uses there are of this network)

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  • $\begingroup$ boeing.com/commercial/aeromagazine/articles/qtr_01_09/pdfs/… has some general information. I imagine it's used for maintenance. $\endgroup$ – sbooth Apr 18 '16 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ If it's just used for maintenance, which is not inconceivable, I wonder why they wouldnt just shut it down when in operational mode. Seems like a waste of power. Also, if used for maintenance only it seems like a waste of weight to cart it round with you the whole time when it could be an external unit when needed. $\endgroup$ – Jamiec Apr 18 '16 at 11:33
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    $\begingroup$ The power required to run a WiFi channel inside an aircraft fuselage, especially if nothing is connected to that network, is negligible. $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Apr 18 '16 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ @ron Broadcasting the SSID or not means nothing for security. It's trivial (I have an app on my phone) to find networks not broadcasting the SSID. $\endgroup$ – Simon Apr 18 '16 at 17:09
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    $\begingroup$ It's most likely the same wifi router,, so it's not adding any weight or power usage unless something is using it. My home router allows me to have two distinct SSID's with seperate logins and passwords. The second ID might be used by the crew in-flight for EFB functions $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Apr 18 '16 at 21:34
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I think it has to do with the use of IPads by mainly the cabin crew, according to this article:

It also helps to identify customers quickly, and can be used to alert other staff of a passenger’s special meal or service requirements.

In order to have to crew communicating to each other via the IPad they need to be connected somehow, so I guess that the network you see is just linked to a locally hosted server such that all the IPads can acces the same data even if a crew member makes a change.

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