Countdown to #aerodays2015: Safety & Security

With only 2 weeks to go until London hosts #aerodays2015 – Europe’s flagship event for aviation research and innovation – ADS’ last two blogs in the countdown to the event will highlight the 2 final themes of the conference.

This week, we are looking at the theme of ‘Safety & Security’ – which during the conference has 7 technical sessions across 3 days, and will cover a range of topics from improving safety management, to ensuring the safe integration of time based separation in air traffic management (ATM) procedures.

One key aspect of improving safety & security in civil aviation however, is tackling the threat of cyber security. With R&D investment critical to the future growth of the Aerospace industry, and with greater connectivity on new commercial aircraft than ever before, the implications of not meeting new threats could be detrimental to both aviation safety and competitiveness.

Alongside cyber threats at both an industrial and operational level, the complex and interconnected web of the world’s aviation industry means there are much wider potential vulnerabilities – with the need to understand cross-border connectivity, the different operating models of passenger and cargo airlines, and the use of logistical companies to support operations and provide maintenance capabilities.

Manufacturers, air traffic providers and airlines are therefore seeking to take steps to improve their cyber security credentials.

Aircraft such as the A350 and A320neo for example, will be much more connected to internet services to enhance passenger comfort. However, significant investment and collaboration is required to ensure these connected systems are further isolated from on-board aircraft network used for avionics and aircraft control.

Within ATM, the system-wide information management (SWIM) project as part of SESAR, will see even greater exchange of data and information, with the various systems becoming more closely integrated. In the UK as well, work to combat the threat of cyber-attacks on ATM systems is being led by NATS UK – who over the last few years have led collaborative work within the CANSO ATM Security Group.

The role of regulators in developing new standards and recommended practices in order to boost resilience to cyber threats will also be critical – with action being taken at both a European and International level.

In Europe, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) are seeking to develop a greater role in the coordination of cyber security activity across Europe – working with national aviation authorities and re-developing its approach to risk management. At a global level, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) announced late last year the formulation of a new ‘Cyber Security Action Plan’ and roadmap to align collaboration between government and industry. The agreement ensures there is a more proactive approach to sharing critical information such as threat identification, risk assessments and cybersecurity best practices across all aviation stakeholders.

With both regulators and industry taking a greater interest in the wide range of potential cyber threats faced and the critical resilience required to counter and provide protection against these threats, the discussions held at aerodays2015 should make for fascinating insight into the action being undertaken across Europe.