US planemaker Boeing used an unusual substitute for passengers to test its in-flight wi-fi system – potatoes.

Passenger seats on a decommissioned plane were loaded with huge sacks of the tubers for several days as signal strengths were checked.

The company’s researchers say that potatoes “interact” with electronic signals in a similar way to humans…The technique also took advantage of the fact that spuds – unlike humans – never get bored.

Boeing’s engineers did a number of tests to ensure that passengers would get the strongest possible wi-fi signal while in the air, all while meeting safety standards that protect against interference with an aircraft’s electrical systems…

“You want your laptop to work anywhere it’s located on your seat, [but] there can be significant signal changes just due to the location of the laptop,” said Boeing engineer Dennis Lewis.

To test the signal distribution, the firm turned to spuds instead of human test subjects, filling the seats with 20,000lbs (9,000kg) of potatoes in sacks.

According to Boeing, potatoes’ “interactions” with electronic signals mimic those of a human body, making them “the perfect stand-in for people who would otherwise have had to sit motionless for days while the data was gathered”.

Seems perfectly clear to me.



  1. BubbaMustafa says:

    I’m more worried about IONIZING scanner BEFORE I get on the plane then non-ionizing RF

  2. Admfubar says:

    the airline industry at all levels thinks of everyone as a sack of potatoes!

  3. Uncle Dave says:

    I wonder if we can replace Congress people with sacks of potatoes. They couldn’t possibly be any worse than the real thing.

    Oh, come on. You knew Alfred or one of the others would say it eventually.

  4. LuckyPierre says:

    Seems like a half-baked idea to me.

  5. seetheblacksun says:

    Wi-fries.

  6. MartinJJ says:

    Face it. Airlines would rather make everyone stand packed against eachother and charge you extra if you want to move your arms or legs. For them your nothing but cargo usually only causing (expensive) problems.

    I am still waiting for the first one with a system to change all seats into or only have (probably very narrow) bunk beds. If you sleep all the way, you don’t eat, drink, poo or pee, so they would need less crew, food and other things on board also. It’s probably the future as many on long haul flights want to sleep anyway. You already see this change happening in first class of many airlines. So why no bunk beds in economy class?

  7. mainecat says:

    At least the sack o tubers won’t switch to VOIP via WiFi and start blabbing away.

  8. dadeo says:

    So are they trying to localize the wifi to each seat? I’m on the sedentary side, but I move around more than a sack of taters – and so do plane passengers. Something’s wrong with this story…

    • Dallas says:

      They chose sack of taters mostly on body shape and intelligence, not mobility.

      You might be covered