Most people are excited for the rollout of 5G and the lightning-fast internet speeds that come along with it. But not everyone is jumping for joy. 5G means new bandwidth parameters for radio transmission and, unfortunately, there’s a potential for interference with this new bandwidth — specifically for avionics. The C-band frequencies up for auction to 5G providers could interfere with aircraft transmissions if left unchecked. It’s a problem that regulators are scrambling to address before it becomes a reality.
Aviation watchdog groups are speaking out
A whitepaper released by the RTCA goes into specific detail about how C-band mobile telecommunications used for 5G could easily cause significant interference for low range radar altimeter operations. The seriousness of this issue becomes quickly apparent as the whitepaper outlines potential disruptions not only to civil aircraft, but military craft as well.
The problem comes from the C-band’s proximity to frequencies used for avionics. Right now, potential 5G frequencies in the 3.7–3.98 GHz range are up for auction, likely to be purchased by telecom providers for the express purpose of expanding their 5G networks. This is extremely close to the 4.2-4.4 GHz frequency ranges used in aviation navigation. There’s concern that the buffer between these ranges isn’t enough to prevent 5G activity from skewing avionics readings.
The whitepaper goes on to detail exactly how severe this interference problem could become. Namely, wavelength disruption could be a catalyst for severe crashes during takeoff and landing, due to the inability of altimeters to function effectively. In a report by Business Insider, Terry McVenes, president of RTCA, says, “If left to go the way it is, our data shows very serious problems.”
The 5G conundrum
The simplest answer to protecting avionics from interference would seem to be restricting the auction of C-band spectrum to telecommunication companies. But therein lies the impasse. This segment of the spectrum is the only one suited to 5G communications. Moreover, it’s paramount for United States infrastructure to continue its rollout of 5G — not only to support increasing demand for telecom domestically, but to maintain leadership on the world stage. 5G is considered essential technology, making compromise hard to come by.
Not an unknown problem
The potential interference caused by 5G isn’t a new problem. In fact, aviation lobbyists approached congress with concerns about infringing bandwidth as far back as 2017. Avionics technologists in France have even gone so far as to slow the deployment of 5G around Nice and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airports until the matter can be studied further.
There’s been pushback against these concerns, however. Both the FCC and CTIA have been quick to dismiss interference fears, stating, “The test criteria that aviation created is more exacting than existing altimeter standards, and some tested altimeters, operating to manufacturer specifications, would not pass even without any external C-Band operations present,”
While this situation untangles itself, one thing remains certain: 5G isn’t going to be stopped. If there is indeed an issue of avionics interference, the burden of fixing it will likely fall to avionics manufacturers. We could be in for more tension as both sides push for control of the limited radio spectrum.
Looking to get from NYC to London? London to Moscow? Moscow to Beijing? No matter your departure or arrival city, you need a jet that’s going to take you the distance without a refueling hub or an unwanted stop. A nonstop flight is the pinnacle of convenience, affordability, and efficiency. You need a jet that’s built to go the distance. And while there’s no shortage of long-range jets out there, only a few have the range on them to cover large swaths of the globe in a single flight. Here’s a look at five long-range jets built to make the world a little bit smaller.
Boeing Business Jet 777X (11,645nm)
Boeing occupies the top two spots on this list, but almost by default. Its 777X business jet is more of a commercial craft than a private business jet, seating 75 passengers. Its range is nonetheless impressive, and it has the unique distinction of being able to fly between any two cities in the world without stopping to refuel. The Boeing Business Jet 777X is also massive. Its cabin measures an impressive 2,356-sq-ft, with a width of 19ft 7in.
Boeing Business Jet 787 (9,945nm)
The Boeing Business Jet 787 was designed as a commercial jet before moving into the private space. The jet offers close to 10,000nm in range and can fly for 17 hours straight before it needs to land and refuel. Nicknamed the “Dreamliner,” this jet makes comfort a priority in addition to range. Its cabin pressurizes at a lower altitude to improve flying comfort and reduce jet lag, and passengers are known for disembarking feeling rejuvenated at their destination.
Bombardier Global 8000 (9,000nm)
While significantly smaller than the Boeing jets on this list, the Bombardier Global 8000 is nonetheless a big-time aircraft with globetrotting range. At over 9,000nm, this jet can get you from Los Angeles to Dubai without the need for a stopover. More important, it’ll get you there at Mach .925! Bombardier’s Global 8000 is the preferred craft for international CEOs and ultra-high net worth individuals who want to cover the globe in a single bound. It’s quickly followed by the Bombardier Global 7000, which comes up short by just 500nm.
Gulfstream G650ER (7,500nm)
While the Bombardier Global 7000 is technically next on the list, we’re leapfrogging it in favor of the Gulfstream G650ER to bring some manufacturer diversity to this long-range jet profile. At 7,500nm, it’s perhaps the most efficient craft on this list, as well as one of the most comfortable. The craft’s range-to-speed ratio is one of the best on the market, allowing you to get from New York to Beijing in a single bound.
Dassault Falcon 8X (6,450nm)
Perhaps the most beautiful jet on this list, the Dassault Falcon 8X is a unique addition to this list because of its size. While most of the other jets listed are ultrawide-body or bizliners, the Falcon 8X has a long, yet sleek cabin that allows it to maximize fuel efficiency and perform at airports with steep approaches or shorter runways. This jet could soon be eclipsed by the newly announced Falcon 6X, however.
Every aircraft on this list makes it easy to jet around the globe without stopping. That said, it’s only a matter of time before there are new leaders in distance. The impending rise of supersonic craft will make the world smaller yet again, and engine technology is getting more efficient every day. It won’t be long until any destination around the globe is just a quick flight away.
Demand for supersonic jets is growing. But before we see the likes of the Concorde in the skies again, we need a place to test the next generation of supersonic aircraft. It’s looking like that test site might very well be a 770-nm corridor in Kansas that runs from Garden City, KS to Pittsburg, KS.
The Kansas Supersonic Transportation Corridor (SSTC) is the result of a new agreement between the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and could be the testing grounds for Mach 3 aircraft as soon as 2024.
Supersonic test ground
Supersonic flight has been possible for decades. Ultimately, however, a combination of factors like immense noise and environmental pollution conspired to kill the first foray into supersonic jets. Today, several companies hope to resurrect the supersonic jet as a quieter, more environmentally friendly offering.
The deal struck between the FAA and the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) offers a way for supersonic developers to test their planes in a controlled, supervised environment. Observers from the FAA, KDOT and various industry and academic groups like Wichita State University’s National Institute of Aviation Research will monitor flights, collect noise data, and plot the road ahead for supersonic flight.
Supersonic contenders like Aerion’s AS2, Boom’s XB-1, and Lockheed Martin’s X-59 will be among the first to break in the new corridor as these aviation leaders scramble to bring their jet to market quicker than the competition.
A host of new ideas
Besides testing individual supersonic jets and their speeds, the SSTC will provide room for companies to experiment with burgeoning technology. NASA and Lockheed Martin will use the SSTC to test their so-called “quiet” supersonic technology. Aerion, the developer of the AS2, hopes to test their Boom Cruise technology, which disperses the ill effects of a sonic boom before they reach the ground.
Celebrating the decision, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association president and CEO Pete Bunce declared:
“The Kansas Supersonic Transportation Corridor will assist in the assessment of sound mitigating structural and engine designs as well as state of the art atmospheric acoustic modeling that eliminates the sonic boom and shapes the noise signature of an aircraft traveling faster than the speed of sound to a very low volume rumble. The validation of these technological breakthroughs through the use of sophisticated ground acoustic and telemetry sensors will provide the necessary data to assist global regulators and policymakers in modernizing supersonic flight policies.”
More than going fast, supersonic jet makers of the future are working hard to be responsible in achieving these speeds. The Kansas corridor allows them to experiment with their responsible technology.
One leap forward
When the world’s most famous supersonic jet, the Concorde, made flights, travelers relished the speed. They also complained that it was noisy and uncomfortable. The sonic boom wasn’t just loud inside the jet. The tremors it created could be felt on the ground. Those undeniable drawbacks eventually saw the end of the Concorde and supersonic jets like it. The SSTC represents a ray of hope for people still awed by the magic of supersonic flight.
When it is in full swing, the SSTC will provide a means of testing and developing bold advances in the field of supersonic flight. Best of all, the joint effort allows regulators a way to control the potential harm the rebirth of supersonic flight may have otherwise caused. It’s a win-win all around.
When we think of jets, most of us picture the same typical airframe. Wings, empennage, cockpit, engines, and a fuselage are all basic building blocks. But what if you took away, say, the fuselage? What kind of jet would it be? It’s hard for most people to imagine a plane that looks so different or one that’s even airworthy. But the fact is, flying wings have been around for a long time, and they might get their due in private aviation sooner than you think!
The constant search for innovation
Aircraft manufacturers are pushing the envelope for upcoming jet designs. Passengers need to arrive at their destination faster, so they’re creating models that are efficient. Manufacturers also are hopping on the sustainability trend, which means electric and hybrid drives are in the near future. To achieve an efficient, sustainable aircraft, innovators are beginning to delve into new territory.
Flying wings have been around since the 1900’s but remain widely unused in the private aviation industry — until now. Horten is test flying their HX-2, which has no fuselage and is all flying wing.
The HX-2 also has more room for propulsion technologies. The flying wing design is perfect for adding the anticipated hybrid drive that will make flying more eco-friendly. In short, flying wings like the HX-2 are key to making private aviation more efficient and sustainable. The HX-2 is still in its testing phase, so pilots must wait before they can get their hands on it. The anticipation is a good sign that they have a tangible place in the future of private aviation.
Why don’t airlines use flying wings?
Flying wing models began in the early 20th century but weren’t intended for commercial use. Different militaries had their own take on the flying wing, most being experiments that didn’t make the cut. In 1933, the USSR had the Stal-5 but abandoned the model due to poor stability. Likewise, the American N-1M was too heavy and underpowered to make it off the ground.
However, some commercial airlines attempted to get flying wings into the mainstream. In 2007, Boeing introduced the X-48 to airline passengers. People didn’t enjoy the plane’s internal design, so it became yet another military aircraft. But flying wings could make a comeback in the private aviation industry with Horten’s HX-2. It seats only two people right now, but the company plans to make it a multi-seated jet.
Flying wings aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing jet, but they’re highly efficient and sustainable. The aviation industry has been looking for ways to make jets eco-friendly, so we may see a rise in flying wings.
These days, you can get into high-end automobiles that have dashboards comprised entirely of touch screens. Everything from the speedometer to the media player is digital. Get into the cockpit of a private jet and you’ll find much less of these digital devises. This isn’t to say avionics aren’t advanced, but the industry hasn’t quite adopted touch screens yet.
What’s the hold up? If the phones in our pockets and the computers we work on every day have touch screens, why not avionics? Proponents of more advanced avionics argue their benefits; however, some feel the industry isn’t quite ready for touch-screen-powered cockpits.
Those in favor of touch screens …
The call for touch-screen avionics seems like a no-brainer. For starters, the capabilities of any cockpit are instantly enhanced. Imagine pinch-to-zoom terrain maps or swipe screens for radar. The skills we’re all familiar with on smartphones and tablets instantly translate, making touch-screen cockpits intuitive and easy to learn — all while jamming more critical technology into a smaller space.
It’s about more than how pilots will interact with touch screens; it’s also about how they will not interact. Touch screens open the door for more automation and intelligent piloting technology, enabling pilots to do more by doing less.
There’s a huge customization factor in touch-screen technology. Static cockpits are fixed. It’s impossible to array controls in a way that best fit a pilot. With touch screens, the ability to arrange and optimize consoles becomes a reality. It’s a simple way to make the cockpit more familiar and easier to maneuver.
… versus those against them.
Those against touch-screen avionics have just as many arguments, with just as much validity. Chief among concerns is functionality. It’s hard to replace the utility of traditional knobs and switches — items that are easy to grip and toggle during turbulence, whereas tapping a touch screen is much harder. In the same vein, it’s easy to accidently tap and toggle a touch-screen versus a manual switch that requires force and registers action. Every knob and switch is unique, making it hard to replicate tactile feel in a touch screen.
The cost of touch-screen avionics also makes them a touchy subject. Especially in smaller, more affordable aircraft, touch-screen avionics would inflate the price of a jet. Not only will this price out some would-be buyers and hobbyists, it would reset the market as aircraft makers race to create the most sophisticated cabin experience.
When will we see touch-screen avionics?
Touch-screen avionics aren’t a new concept. Companies like Garmin sell broad aftermarket upgrades for private aircraft of all types, and jet owners who prefer a digital cockpit already indulge in the upgraded experience. As for mainstream, stock touch-screen avionics? They’re not yet the standard for all jets, but can be acquired by the discerning pilot. We’re still a few years out from touch-screen avionics as the stock option, instead of the opt-in.
The expert jet brokers at L & L International are here to help you acquire the perfect jet. Need to sell your jet? We can assist with that, too. Contact the private aviation professionals online, at sales@L-Lint.com, call us anytime at +1 (305) 754-3313.
In an era largely recognized as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, robotics is playing a pivotal role in making work easier. In nearly every industry, robots are performing repetitive tasks or complementing human workers in doing these jobs quicker, better, and at a lower cost.
In the aviation industry, engineers are designing and deploying robots of all types to make critical maintenance easier. Let’s take a look at a few of the tried and true robots in the field today and how they’re helping maintenance crews so jet owners can take to the skies with peace of mind.
Maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) drones were the first robots to take the field in the aviation maintenance industry. In 2015, unmanned aircraft developer Blue Bear Systems Research deployed a drone to thoroughly inspect the exterior of an airliner for inclement weather damage. Since then, several other MRO drone manufacturers have entered the market driving drone capabilities forward.
MRO drones work by flying predetermined paths around jets, using a high definition camera to show inspectors a crisp visual of the aircraft’s surface. Using drones has the potential to reduce inspection times from as long as six hours down to about two. This not only enables faster repairs but also repeatability in the inspection process.
The future of MRO drones is also exciting. Developers like Blue Bear and Output42 are aiming to create drone software that further maximizes inspection capabilities based on individual jet types. This includes prerecorded inspection flight paths and the ability to automatically detect damage, such as that from hail or bird strikes.
Engine maintenance robots
A jet engine is a complicated mechanical engineering marvel and repairing one is no small task. Aside from being inherently complicated, jet engines are also totally enclosed and must be removed from jets for repairs and maintenance. Famed automaker and engine innovator Rolls Royce is looking to change this through the power of robotics.
In conjunction with the University of Nottingham and Harvard University, Rolls Royce has developed a series of swarm robots to tackle jet engine maintenance. Measuring just 10 millimeters in diameter, these robots are injected into a jet engine to provide visual feedback on the contents of the case and its many components.
Phase two of this initiative will involve a maintenance team installing a bore-blending robot within the engine and deploying it remotely for engine maintenance. Using remote controls, an inspection team will be able to execute minor maintenance without ever opening the engine compartment.
Other robotic assistants
As technologies continue to evolve in the robotics field, engineers are exploring more and more iterations of helper robots. Examples like Invert Robotics’ climber robot show the abilities of robots to adapt to jet maintenance crew needs, providing everything from terrain maneuvering assistance to high-definition video transmission.
Regardless of what form jet maintenance robots take or what service they’re able to provide, they’re reducing the time, cost, and margin of error for jet maintenance. Results are better inspection standards, more efficient maintenance, and safer jets extending to private and business aviation.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is exploding across industries as the prevalence of big data is allowing analysts to leverage information and improve just about every aspect of the way things work. Aviation is no exception. With so many variables involved in air travel, the IoT is paving the way for our understanding of optimization across the board.
Flight operational quality assurance (FOQA) programs are becoming more robust, relying heavily on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies to manage their broad scope. This has, in turn, led aviation insiders to adopt intelligent wireless access points (WAPs) and in-flight connectivity (IFC) in their jets. Together, this digitization of essential systems has opened the door for IoT in aviation.
3 examples of the BizAv IoT at work
Reliance on legacy systems and the capital-intensive nature of the industry as a whole have made IoT adoption slower in the BizAv field than in many others. However, many innovations are beginning to take hold. Here are just a few:
Crew assistance —Fly-by-wire technologies have been in place since the 1970s and have dramatically improved flight safety and efficiency. However, pilot presence, which means making sure cockpit personnel have all the insights they need before, during, and after takeoff, is still invaluable.
Big data maintenance — Another GE venture, Taleris™, is a company leveraging IoT technologies to vastly improve maintenance for jets of all types. One of a growing number of companies like it, Taleris utilizes a series of sensors and beacons throughout an aircraft’s many vital systems to collect and analyze data to minimize unscheduled maintenance and delays.
Flight path optimization — Predetermined air corridors and flight paths offer certainty once a jet is in the air. But BizAv IoT tech is making it possible to safely adapt and adjust routes midflight. More than just air-to-ground communications, the IoT is enabling air-to-air data communication so pilots can anticipate and avoid intersection points, keeping jets safely in the air on the shortest possible trajectories to their locations.
And these are just the IoT innovations on the jets themselves! Smart airports and customer-facing technologies are moving the industry ever closer to interconnectivity where big data may someday optimize the entire private flying experience.
See a problem, solve a problem
As the industry broaches the cusp of BizAv IoT innovation, insiders may quickly realize the true power of big data insights. When they do, the floodgates could open for even broader adoption and innovation. Just as it’s doing for manufacturing, offices, and utilities, the IoT is bringing efficiency, accountability, and automation to aviation, improving existing fly-by-wire technologies and enabling insights throughout.
The expert jet brokers at L & L International are here to help you acquire the perfect jet. Need to sell your jet? We can assist with that, too. Contact the private aviation professionals online, at sales@L-Lint.com, or at +1 (305) 754-3313.
Both government spokespeople and international aviation business organizations have committed themselves to the search for cleaner, more sustainable jet fuel options. Because of concerns about the harmful effects of emissions, these aviation leaders are proactively taking steps to reduce the business jet industry’s carbon footprint and find alternative sources for jet fuel. But what strides are they making, and how soon could they affect you?
The first industry to reach an international agreement
The business aviation industry is the first in the world to develop internationally accepted carbon emission reduction standards. In November of 2009, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) released a joint resolution, including three major goals:
Carbon-neutral growth by 2020
2% average growth in fuel efficiency annually until 2020
A 50% reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 to 2050
In May of this year, industry leaders renewed their commitments to the project at a media luncheon held in conjunction with the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE). At the luncheon, stakeholders publicly signed a Declaration of Commitment to developing and adopting Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuel (SAJF).
The Business Aviation Guide to the Use of SAJF
In addition to the Declaration, the coalition of aviation organizations released a new report: the Business Aviation Guide To the Use of Sustainable Alternative Fuel (SAJF). The purpose of the report is to educate those in the industry about the importance of SAJF as well as encouraging adoption of the already available alternative fuels. The guide emphasizes three aspects of SAJF for business jets: It is safe, approved, and already available for purchase. It also lists many alternative fuel benefits and encourages readers to support innovation.
A look at SAJF
Many different SAJF and other alternative energy sources for aircraft are in development. Some companies, such as Gulfstream, are regularly running their jets on 50/50 biofuel with great results. Unfortunately, due to lack of availability, these companies often have to truck the biofuel across the country, which clearly offsets the carbon emissions the fuel itself saves. These forerunners hope this will improve over time as demand increases.
In addition to SAJF interest from big names in business and private jets, NASA has conducted joint studies with the German Aerospace Center and the National Research Council of Canada, which have tentatively shown that biofuel reduces the formation of contrails. This is excellent news for the reduction of negative environmental impacts since contrails have shown a major link between aircraft and environmental damage.
Research continues on unleaded jet fuel under the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI). The FAA announced in June that the program was approximately halfway through the engine-testing portion of the program. Two different fuels, one from Shell and the other from Swift, won bids for testing under the initiative, although a completion date is unclear.
As an alternative to SAJF, some researchers are even looking forward to electric aircraft as the future, though this prospect seems more distant. In the meantime, others in the aviation industry are doing their share as solar panels at FBOs and other energy-saving technologies are becoming standard practice.
While the transition to alternative fuels is a slow one, the international business aviation industry is determined to be a forerunner in the pursuit of cleaner travel. Soon, every private and business aircraft owner might be able to offset carbon emissions with cleaner, greener fuel options.
In the market for your own personal aircraft? Be sure to consult a knowledgeable aviation professional to discover the perfect new or preowned jet for your needs. Contact our private aviation professionals online, at sales@L-Lint.com, or by phone at +1 (305) 754-3313.
While supersonic flight is nothing new, the ability to travel faster than the speed of sound has been absent from the aviation industry for 15 years. Recently, however, jet industry insiders have renewed their interest in supersonic travel. But what’s been stopping them?
The greatest hindrances to supersonic flight are regulatory and economic. U.S. regulations prohibit supersonic flight over land because of the boom the planes create when they break the sound barrier. At the same time, the demise of the Concorde — the only successful commercial supersonic jet in history — was due in part to excessive operation costs. Despite these odds, select companies feel they can face these challenges with success in both commercial and business supersonic flight, and investors believe them.
Top contenders for the next generation of supersonic travel
Several companies are working to make supersonic jet travel a viable option. A California-based unit of Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor, received a $247.5 million NASA contract for Low Boom Flight Demonstration. Under this contract, the defense giant will build and test a supersonic aircraft called the X-plane. They expect the experimental design to bypass the sonic boom and, instead, make a sound only as loud as a car door closing. NASA hopes reducing the noise of supersonic travel will lead to changes in over-land travel bans and open the doors for supersonic routes across the U.S. Per the contract, Lockheed is scheduled to deliver the commissioned demonstration aircraft to NASA in 2021.
Other companies are boasting of tech developments that will surpass the Concorde in speed and cost efficiency. Tech startup Boom Supersonic has received more than 75 pre-orders for its supersonic passenger aircraft, the XB-1. The company claims the XB-1 will fly at up to Mach 2.2, more than twice the speed of sound and faster than any aircraft in history. Boom is also claiming that ticket prices will be comparable to today’s typical business class fares. The scheduled delivery for XB-1 jets is in 2023.
But could private jets beat them to it?
The business jet industry is also seeing new companies bring their designs to the table. One major competitor is Spike Aerospace, which is claiming that elite engineering and design will make its S-512 jet both fast and luxurious for the most discerning passengers. The S-512, like the XB-1 jet, is due on the market in 2023.
Another startup, Aerion Supersonic, is making big promises of its own. Aerion leaders have made it clear they intend to offer the first viable luxury supersonic jet on the market, though they set their release date for 2025.
Focusing on flights over the mainland
Most of the aviation experts behind these projects are looking toward flying the Concorde’s original overseas routes. However, the joint project between Lockheed Martin and NASA is coming at the issue from a different perspective. While the Low Boom Flight Demonstration contract has a longer and slower timeline, the goal is to create an aircraft that can fly at supersonic speeds without the disruptive sonic boom. The long-term plan for the X-plane includes flight tests over U.S. cities to monitor the noise levels it creates with the hope of eventually reopening the discussion of flights over land. This would be big news for the business jet world, introducing the possibility of flying from coast to coast in just a couple hours.
While the promise of supersonic flights in five years sounds tantalizing, experts are reticent to trust the timelines. At the same time, the financial and technological landscape looks promising for anyone hoping to travel faster than the speed of sound.
Are you looking for the best way to travel in the meantime? The expert jet brokers at L & L International are here to help you acquire the perfect jet. Need to sell your jet? We can assist with that, too. Contact the private aviation professionals online, at sales@L-Lint.com, or at +1 (305) 754-3313.
Today’s business jet owners as well as their crewmembers and passengers are demanding inflight connectivity rivaling that which they enjoy every day on the ground. Connectivity in the air is no longer considered a perk but, rather, a necessity. However, with increased connectivity comes the same security issues everyone everywhere is facing: Our data, communications, and networks are vulnerable to an increasing variety of threats and privacy issues.
Business aviation and internet security
At a recent Aero Club of Washington, D.C., meeting, Alan Pellegrini, president and CEO of Thales USA, manufacturer of electronic systems for aviation, told attendees that, the more connected aircraft become and the more devices that are added to this intricate web of connectivity, the more vulnerable our aircraft become to safety, security, and privacy threats. According to the Avionincs article, “There have already been hacks of aircraft and aviation-related systems, including in-flight entertainment systems, data communications between pilots and ground-based controllers, and airline operations systems that in one case in Europe caused flight cancellations.”
Disruptions in private aviation systems can and do have tremendous economic and social impacts. That’s why aviation has long been a target of terrorists. In fact, Russian hackers attempted to break into U.S. civilian aviation systems in 2017 as part of a larger attack on the electrical grid. While the attack did not escalate past early stages, it illustrates industry vulnerability.
One big trend in cybercriminals targeting business travelers is malicious actors gaining access to sensitive business information and using this inside information for illicit stock trading. In one incident, hackers compromised a hotel’s computer network and stole access codes as well as network credentials that allowed them to search for valuable business information.
In addition, cyberattacks on airborne private aircraft are already occurring, usually from attackers on the ground. And offering unsecured Wi-Fi to flight crewmembers and passengers can actually make this type of hacking easier due to hackers’ ability to connect as well.
Another complicating factor involves the implementation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipment. While ADS-B is said to be the next generation of air traffic control technology, it compromises privacy by broadcasting unique International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) addresses and Flight IDs, making them available to those with the proper receivers. This is a reason some owners are resisting compliance with the ADS-B regulations, which will be mandatory as of January 2020.
Companies and individuals involved in business aviation need to take steps now to ensure they are not victims or even unwitting enablers of security attacks. Be aware of who, why, and how hackers might want to break into your systems. Conduct a security audit of your facility and processes to assess how tight your security is. Understand how you control physical and virtual access, what types of monitoring are in place for your users and systems, and where vulnerabilities may exist in your processes and systems. Train your flight crewmembers on security best practices such as avoiding open Wi-Fi networks and protecting access credentials.
Many flight department managers are hiring IT security experts to harden their systems against security breaches and keep up with the continually evolving threat landscape. It’s important to have a detailed action plan so you and your crewmembers are prepared in the case you discover a vulnerability or breach. Yours should address how to limit its impact and recover quickly as well as outline backup equipment and processes in case of critical failures.
Security is a wide-ranging and ever-changing but vitally important aspect of private and business aviation. Keeping your aircraft, flight crew, passengers, computer systems, and data safe and secure requires continuing education, secure systems and practices, and constant vigilance. That’s the price for a strong, economically viable business aviation operation that can withstand today’s ever-present cybersecurity threats.
Contact the experts at L & L International if you need assistance acquiring or selling a private jet.