Many younger people out there did not even had a chance to see floppy last 20 years, except proud owners of retro-hardware.
Yet a floppy disk is for decades still in use in military tech, banks and it is used by aircraft engineers. Every 28 days “Airline Data Base” update is loaded onto Boeing 747-400 navigation unit, on oldfasion way using magnetic media via 3.5″ floppy disk (three and a half-inch).
Yes you have read it correctly, but we will repeat it, to shock you again Boing 747 introduced in 1988 and Airbus A320 was launched in March 1984, with first flight in 1987 still in 2020 they use 3.5″ floppy disks for updating navigation unit with “AIRLINE DATA BASE” every 28 days.
So let us see how this looks in Boing 747:
Inserting Disk #1 in Boing 747 to update navigation unit.
And in Airbus A320:Inserting disk#4 in Airbus A320 Navigation Unit!
We can clearly see that this retro technology still works and even more reliable than our retro computers. One can only wonder where do they get spare floppy units and floppy disks.
Now one would ask and how does a bit newer planes load navigation databases? From USB of course:
Loading navigation database from USB on Cesna 750
Updating navigation database from USB on Hawker 125 in DBU-5000, it is interesting to notice that there are actually two usb slots now in case one of usb slots fail or is damaged. And then we may ask why there aren’t there two floppy disk drives? Were floppy disk more reliable than USB drive ?
Comment if you know an answer to these questions.
Bonus two youtube videos that was inspired us to write this article:
How to A320 NAV Database Update. Easy steps to Upload Navigation Database from Floppy Disks to A320.
DEF CON 28 Aerospace Village: 747-400 Walk through From a Hacker’s Perspective
related article:The Register Pen Test Partners: Boeing 747