US data comm faces security threat probe

A US transport watchdog is initiating an audit into information controls governing one of the cornerstone technologies of NextGen to prevent potential security threats from compromising flight data and communications.

Data Comm will provide a direct link for digital communications between aircraft flight decks and air traffic controllers which will improve flight safety, enhance controller productivity, increase aircraft fuel savings, and provide support for other NextGen programmes.

The Transportation Department’s Inspector General’s Office wants to examine security risks associated with the technology that lets air traffic control text flight crews and to also assess whether Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) contingency plans would adequately prepare the agency for emergencies so it can recover rapidly from Data Comm outages.

In a recent memorandum, the watchdog said: “Given the important role that DataComm will play in communications between controllers and flight crews, it is critical that the FAA incorporate sufficient controls to prevent potential security threats from compromising flight data and communications.”

It said its audit objectives are to determine whether: the FAA is identifying and properly mitigating security risks, and whether the FAA’s contingency plan is sufficient to limit the effects of DataComm availability losses.

“We plan to begin this audit in April 2017 and conduct it at FAA Headquarters and selected field sites,” it said.

Posted in Communications, News, NextGen, Security

Comments are closed.