How to Combat Cyber Threats against Aircraft
Industry Op-Ed Technology

How to Combat Cyber Threats against Aircraft

DALLAS – Information Communication Technology (ICT) has greatly complemented the growth and advancement of the aviation sector in the areas of aircraft design, manufacturing, operations, and navigation.

Modern aircraft—the Boeing 787, the Airbus A350, the Bombardier C-series, and the Gulf-stream 650—are e-enabled, meaning they have an unprecedented number of electronic flight systems.

These include digital fly-by-wire, IP-enabled networks, commercial off-the-shelf components (CoTS), wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth), a Global Positioning System (GPS), and an In-Flight Entertainment System (IFE), among others.

Electronic and wireless systems reduce the amount of wiring in an aircraft, which in turn reduces weight, helps achieve lower fuel consumption, increases the efficiency of aircraft operations, eases the workload for aircraft crews, and enhances the comfort of passengers on board.

However, these wireless and electronic systems present vulnerabilities to cyber security threats that have the potential to impact the safety of both aircraft and passengers on board.

Flights at LGW will be capped at 825 per day in July and 850 in August. Photo: Gatwick Airport

Cyber-attacks in Aviation

Aircraft cyber-attack refers to the offensive maneuver of aircraft’s data, communications, functions, instruments, and system(s) without authorization, potentially with malicious intent. 

According to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), there are an estimated 1,000 cyber-attacks targeting aviation systems worldwide each month. Some of these cyberattacks include:

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Featured image: Irkut

Maximillian Philberth is an electronics scientist and a licensed Flight Operations Officer with studies in cyber security policies for aviation and internet infrastructure. Max's interests in commercial aviation include flight dispatch, flying, and maintenance; plus cyber security, 5G, and aviation safety. Based in Tanzania.

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