Boeing 747s Still Get Critical Updates Via Floppy Disks

by : Emma Rosemurgey on : 12 Aug 2020 07:55
Boeing 747s Still Get Critical Updates Via Floppy DisksBoeing 747s Still Get Critical Updates Via Floppy DisksJeddahShot/Instagram/PA

Technology is more advanced than we’ve ever known, from artificial intelligence robots that can work just like a human, to cars that can parallel park themselves.

But, not everyone and everything has taken on the new technologies available, such is the case with Boeing’s 747-400 aircraft.

The plane, which was introduced in 1988 and is still used to transport millions of travellers across the world, receives critical software updates through 3.5-inch floppy disks, The Register reports.

Boeing 747s Still Get Critical Updates Via Floppy DisksBoeing 747s Still Get Critical Updates Via Floppy DisksPA Images

If you’re below the age of about 20, there’s a good chance you won’t even know what floppy disks are, because they were replaced by compact discs (CDs), which became increasingly popular in the 1990s.

In fact, to some young people, even the concept of a CD is obsolete, so the prospect of still using a floppy disk is just mind-blowing. They are storage devices, in short.

The discovery was made when security researchers from Pen Test Partners gained access to a British Airways 747, after the travel company decided to retire its fleet amid the pandemic.


The researchers were able to fully inspect the aircraft’s avionics bay beneath the passenger deck, where the black boxes, used to perform the functions of the plane, are kept.

The Pen Test Partners found the 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, which is used to load important navigation databases, in the cockpit. Before the aircrafts were retired, an engineer would visit every 28 days and update the database with the latest updates.

While it might sound pretty ridiculous to you and I that such an important vessel could be using such outdated technology, it’s actually pretty common among Boeing 737s.


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Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: Technology, Boeing 737, Boeing 737-400, Boeing 747, British Airways, Floppy Disk, Now


The Register
  1. The Register

    Pen Test Partners: Boeing 747s receive critical software updates over 3.5" floppy disks