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A commercial airplane hack is just a matter of time research reveals

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Washington - When you're planning your next trip, you might want to consider the fact that experts from several government organizations, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security amongst them, have warned that sooner or later a commercial aircraft will be a victim of a cyber attack that will end in catastrophe. (airlinerwatch.com) 기타...

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fwaviator63
I am an older pilot trained as a fixed wing (and later helicopters) pilot flying some rather unsophisticated aircraft but one thing we were well trained in was how to fly approachs to minimums looking only at the pointer of an ADF or the needles of a VOR or ILS. We didn't have radar monitoring or vectors and we managed pretty well. I realize things are much more complicated now but my questions is, do they still teach the basics? Might make a difference in a hacking situation. Just some thoughts from a Master Army Aviator long retired.
LowOrbitTraveler01
Not likely.

Flight controls not connected to any WIFI.
Manual control of aircraft available.
A/C radar, ADF, VOR and ILS work.
My only issue is too much reliance on glass cockpit instruments and autopilot.
Old retired pilot also. Started on round dials and noisy props. Retired on 777.
40 years in aviation.
sparkie624
That is why I say over riding the ground stations is the answer!
SoCalFlyr
This is just another of those articles that attempt to paint a sensational picture using half-truths and omitted facts. Yes, the carefully staged attempt to hack the entertainment system partially succeeded. No, that didn't give them access to the flight controls or navigation, entirely separate isolated systems. Yes, it is possible to spoof or distort GPS (and VOR/ILS) signals, but that isn't a "hack" of the aircraft, rather it is more akin to attacking it with a gun or missile.

Now if the pilots are updating and/or controlling flight avionics via WiFi or Bluetooth from a pad or laptop, then yes, we need to consider hackers. (Is that done?) And any sort of externally-controlled pilotless aircraft could obviously be a target.
vulcancruiser
Most useless article ever. If it was easy it would have been done. The supposed "hack" of a 757 by DHS was of a machine parked at a gate, and admittedly did not takeover flight controls. Far different for machines hundreds of miles away and 6 miles high. The idea that you could takeover the autopilot is ridiculous. At the first bogus signal it unhooks and you get manual control. The idea some ISIS bedouin in a tent with a Radio Shack bag of parts could run an airliner into the dirt is the stuff of crack dreams.
sparkie624
I for one as a Mechanic specializing in Avionics and know the systems very well... I have been saying for the last 20 years that this was coming. I feel that CAT III a/c will be the most at risk. To be honest, it would not be that difficult and the technology exists and has existed for some time. I am not going to go into the How To as someone could possibly use them. I have voice my concerns in the past.
Highflyer1950
Would you not require a hardwired setup externally to attempt access to the closed Arinc 429 or similar data bus. In order to give a electronic command and even then suppose that an external input to the DEEC’s or Auto Thrust would that not give a miscompare and an EICAS alert to the pilots and they would just shut it down or disable the affected system. Obviously I’m not a avionics guy but I believe there isn’t any connectivity between the cockpit systems and outside sources, except for telecommunication and parameter reporting. Just inqiuring!
sparkie624
sparkie624 -2
Not necessarily... How about faking a ground station and direct the a/c to the ground... IE... Control a Glide Slope.Localizer for approach by putting out a much stronger signal than the ground. The RadAlt simply sync the signal and then you would be able to control what the captain sees. Any RF signal can be over taken with a strong enough signal.... Keep in mind that airports run relatively low wattage transmitters as they are all clear line of sight and close targets. I am not going to post other details as I do not want to give bad eyes something to do... but understanding how the equipment work and the right now how, it would be incredibly easy and the thing about it... you bring a CAT III a/c in and you smack him into the ground long before he ever knows what happened... And then when you switch off you are long gone before anyone knows anything...
Highflyer1950
If you fake a ground station, the you would have to mirror a freq. an ident., somehow mess with pressure instruments and their respective ADC’s in the cockpit which has no connectivity., and since there are more and more GPS approaches beiing used you would have to mess with the signal, time clock, data base cuurency., and all the alarms in the tower when an ILS system is compromised with duplicate signals! BTW, how would you mess up a HUD with FLIR? You can build and fly a remote controlled airliner which conceivably would be easier to hack because its controlled from the ground, but today's passenger jets, I’m not so sure. Still, there is the future and its full of surprises.
wingbolt
wingbolt 1
That’s hacking the ground station not the aircraft. Where does the altimeter fit into your theory? Not to mention FAF crossing altitudes, DH, and TAWS considerations. Since the RadAlt is independent of any ground signal not sure how you can manipulate it from the ground other than digging a big hole but that sure would mess up the runway.
sparkie624
sparkie624 -1
If you mess with the navigation enough you could put them into a mountain, tower, other a/c... Altitude would be very simple.. Besides... If they think they are on a perfect approach and you drive all the navigation the Altitude would not be suspect as you take them to higher terrain,
wingbolt
wingbolt 1
Your still ignoring TAWS and RadAlt. And one thing I forgot to mention, the windscreen. It tends to work really well. I’m not saying it’s impossible but it is impractical. The one thing the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t mention is that it’s a hell of a lot easier to get past them than it is to hack an airplane. They are focusing on little old ladies. I’m thinking mission creep is their motivation.
bentwing60
bentwing60 1
Once again, on the mark wb. Look at the actual IMC time in any real fly guys logbooks/records. I'm not talkin Seattle based. On average it is probably less than 10% if logged by the REGS. Mine is about 8%, logged by the Regs. There ain't that many clouds at 410 and I have done as many 200&1/2 approaches in the sim as I have in real life. Comin from a guy who flew supplemental 135 freight for FEDEX and UPSCO for that s&*t that absolutely had to be there over night and their guys were canceling. It was mostly about thunderstorms. And the bad guys would have to have a better than average meteorologist to pick the time and the place. Sparkie doesn't give pilots much credit for sayin, "that don't look right".
sparkie624
sparkie624 -1
Easier to fake out than you think.... Besides... If you got them screwed up enough in a cloud, Fly them into a mountain... By the time RAD/ALT and Terrain goes off, it could very well be too late to do anything. In weather, get them a low enough not exactly knowing where they are, it would not take much. By the time they see something, it would be too late.
RobAinscough
As I understand it, exposed devices (FMCs, Garmins, etc. etc) are being retooled with proper encryption/security. But this will take time and money … ironically the GA side is more secure today than commercial.
n2tl
A hack of the aircraft network In s fly-by-wire aircraft could mean that the pilots no longer have control of the aircraft. Stick and rudder skills do not work when you no longer have a stick or a rudder!
zuluzuluzulu
sorry. not possible.
sparkie624
sparkie624 -1
I disagree!
jbqwik
jbqwik 1
We are being schooled that most anything can be hacked so I'm not sure this is a major insight. It does put a point on what we tend to disregard or downplay.
RobAinscough
The "schooling" is wrong, considering the reliance of day to day life on electronics/data 24/7 365 days a year, the actually percentage of "dangerous" hacks are 0.00000000001%.

You have to put "hacking" into perspective relative to usage, something journalist/media often skip over because it makes the hacking less "drama" filled. Don't get me wrong, the TV/Media do a great job most of the time, but they don't always add perspective, that's upto the viewer to discover.
rangerflyer
Bob Yurek -4
Most useless "story" ever.
watkinssusan
in the past,those who were knowledgeable of computers and systems, were called "computer geeks"..in todays world,where everyone ,including children,have access to I phones and laptops and I pads and all of the latest gadgets available,it is not surprising there are many who have learned how to "hack" into systems,let alone some who are paid to do so..this threat has been around for a long time,but computerized avionics have not been in the forefront..its been the electric grid or government systems,or banking systems,credit cards, e mails and the like being targeted...there is reason for concern,but not alarm and i would hope the airlines are addressing this issue..(remember pilots dont "fly by instinct" or "the seat of their pants" or by manual control much anymore..its all computerized)..
bentwing60
Those that really think pilots don't "fly by instinct" or "the seat of their pants" or by manual control much anymore..its all computerized), might recognize the Cause of AF447. Not because they didn't, but because they couldn't. Go take a few flyin lessons and get back to me!
watkinssusan
respectfully sir..go back and read articles related to the crash of af447,which include transcrpits of the cockpit voice recorder ( I did out of curiosity to what you said)..you will find it to have been a combination of things from weather, to some issues with programmed computer systems to pilot error..my comments were not derogatory towards pilots,but a statement of fact that newer aircraft have sophisticated computer systems,and although a pilot may be trained in emergenices where manual control is necessary,they very seldom use that training..have a great day sir...
Highflyer1950
While correct about the newer computer systems, they don’t count for much especially when there is built in protections that the pilots ignore ie; trying to climb over weather when the aircraft is far to heavy for a higher altitude even at Maximum Climb Thrust! Throw in a bit of turbulence when the aircraft is too slow and the only way to speed up is to descend or in this case try and keep it flying until the shaker activates. Now forced with an impending stall, these monkeys were pushing and pulling all the way down and if memory serves hit the water at 12000’ fpm descent with a forward ground speed of 66kts! they couldn’t recover as they did not know how. Had the crew been trained the way the US, Canada, UK , Germans and Australians etc are, hand fly it to cruise/hand fly from 15,000 on down on a frequent basis, this would have been a non issue. As Bentwing correctly points out, the Asiana crash just shows how inept the flight crews understanding of the systems at hand were.
bentwing60
bentwing60 -6
So, go read this Wiki. version of an accident report, and pay particular attention to the investigation section. Four qualified guys sat there and wrecked a 777 cause the left seat guy didn't get the automation lesson and apparently hadn't or had lost the skills to recognize that it wasn't workin out till "Too Late". To think that I would quote AF447 sans the knowledge gleaned from reading the full accident report more than once indicates that your "respectfully sir" isn't particularly heartfelt. It ain't the clubs! And when they really need the skills (The automation or pilot link failed) and they are absent, we discuss it here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asiana_Airlines_Flight_214
mikehe
Err, AF447t wasn't a 777 - it was a A330-200. The left-hand driver was pointing the controls in an opposite direction to the right-hand driver and they flew it flat into the Atlantic Ocean in the pitch-black of night. Hats off to the French Navy for finding the wreckage on the deep ocean floor.
rboddy91
Err, bentwing60 was referencing Asiana 214 as the 777, not AF447. He even provided a wiki link for that flight.
mikehe
Oops, so sorry bentwing - lack of coffee early on a Friday morning! So, we now have two well-documented cases of drivers flying into the deck in modern airliners. Mike
666adt
Don't be sorry. He made things confusing by not clarifying things. He's referencing AF447 twice (an A330, but he doesn't say so), then talks about a wrecked 777 (Asiana 214, but he doesn't say so), and in his second comment he mentions both the "wrecked...777" and "AF447" without distinguishing them as different events, then he merely provides a link without context to his comments.

It wasn't your lack of coffee. It was his careless commenting, IMO.
bentwing60
bentwing60 1
you sir, are a twit.
mikehe
Much appreciated, mate!
bentwing60
bentwing60 -2
A stronger rebuttal might have pointed out the error in my comment rather than my sentence structure. Rich seemed to get it. As Sarah Sanders says, "short sentences, we must use short sentences".
bentwing60
bentwing60 -1
The accident I referred to in my second post was Asiana 214 at SFO and has a link at the end of my comment.
sparkie624
sparkie624 -1
Need to give them a little break... They were only admiring the Golden Gate Bridge from a different angle!
Larns
Hackers do hack systems with a coffee machine. No joke. Hacking an aircraft for groups or organizations with hi-tech equipment sould be a child play.
joelwiley
Perhaps a main reason for it's not having happened already is that nobody has found a reason to do so. The proof of concept was demonstrated years ago with a military drone and a Texas college class:
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/talking-back/researchers-hack-drones-a-science-project-anyone/
jolyonfinch
No-one was hurt - meant to say - no-one was killed. However one person was killed; run over by a truck on the runway after having been thrown clear.
jolyonfinch
I was told by a pilot (Senior first officer) flying into Asian destinations that the Asiana pilots were not trained to fly when the Glide Slope was O/S, which it was and they knew it before departure.

There were three pilots in the cockpit but none would intervene when the aircraft was visually to low. 'Loss of Face'.

After the crash, the 'Pilot Flying' said that it is very difficult to land such a large aircraft manually!

What is so surprising is that no one on board was hurt in what was a very serious crash. 777 a very strong plane.
mikehe
Talking specifically about Aseana 214 at SFO on 06/7/2013:

Hang on - didn't they lose the rear seat row of passengers from Aseana 214? Shows as a hull loss and 3 fatalities with 304 survivors.

The incident still speaks well for the strength of the hull in modern airliners.
sparkie624
sparkie624 -1
At least 1 person died in 214's crash.... when the tail broke off!
onceastudentpilot
The one you are referring to Sparkie wasnt a result of the crash. Her death was accident caused by a responding fire crew.
sparkie624
She was ejected from the a/c - Probably dead before she was run over.
joelwiley
The autopsy report did not indicate that she was already dead when she was run over. If the <redacted> in the pointy end had been doing their jobs, she would not have been placed in harms way in the first place. It is inappropriate to blame the first responders for her demise.
sparkie624
Very much so... If they had not broken the tail off, she would not have been laying outside of the a/c... None the less, she died due to crew error of the plane she was on. Directly or Indirectly... It really makes no difference.
onceastudentpilot
Two others did parrish as a result of their injuries during the crash.
bentwing60
Actually, there were four qualified pilots on the flight deck. An international Captain and an F.O. were in jump seats and a Check Airman was in the right seat administering a LOFT ride for the newly minted 777 Captain in the left.
Highflyer1950
If true, why did they accept a left visual approach?
joelwiley
Interesting premise. The article does not mention who filed the FOIA request nor whether the actual docs are available for review. Thanks to Google, it appears the answer to the first question is MOTHERBOARD, and the answer to the second appears to be here:

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/d3kwzx/documents-us-government-hacking-planes-dhs

Read them if interested.
parka123
parka123 -4
Wasn't 9-11 a hack job?
tyleremtage
How could 9/11 have been a hack job...that was totally hands-on

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