Aircraft that are connected to the open world (e.g. internet, wifi, airline IT) will inevitably become a standard enabler for the transformation of operations. Being connected to the open world links aerospace stakeholders together both on board and on the ground, leading to new use cases (e.g. EFB/FMS connection, sustainable operations, autonomy, remote maintenance…) and driving operational excellence.
However, the development of connected aircraft operations opens up previously isolated, safety-critical domains, to cyber threats. Official figures confirm that airspace users are increasingly affected by cyber attacks. Any aircraft connected to the open world can also be more easily targeted.
Cyber threats are becoming a reality
Aviation regulations and the industry are aware of these changes. In the system design of the safety critical domain (i.e. Part-21 Initial Airworthiness), a demonstration of cybersecurity is required to complete the safety analysis and mitigate cyber risks. In terms of organization and operations, a new part called Part-IS (information System) is about to be released to manage cybersecurity between each stakeholder: transverse cyber risk analysis, event detection, assessment of operational and safety impacts, reporting.
The challenge is not restricted to designing the appropriate aircraft cyber protections and to monitoring them but also to keep defenses operational while vulnerabilities evolve at open-world speed.
The question arises, in a highly regulated world required to maintain safety excellence, how can connected aircraft keep protection levels up to date to tackle cyber threats, without impacting aircraft operability?
How to connect the cockpit to the external world while guaranteeing security
The solution is the Thales FlytLink Cyber Gateway. The design of the product is compliant with the latest aviation cybersecurity regulations (ED203A). The Gateway design includes a secure boot (only authentic software can be run), an end-to-end encrypted communications channel (over Wifi toward onboard PEDs, over public networks toward ground platforms) and an avionics security filter that authenticates and checks open world payloads.
Providing a secure connectivity gateway
As a Wireless Access Point (WAP), internet access is provided through enterprise authentication on the ground (using cellular network) and in flight (using installed Satcom). By segregating crew device connectivity from in-flight connectivity systems, FlytLINK Cyber Gateway offers security as well as independent adaptability from the in-flight connectivity capabilities.
Easy offload of data at the end of the flight
As a Wireless Quick Access Recorder (QAR), flight data used for flight operations, maintenance and safety monitoring are wirelessly transmitted, eliminating the need for manual offload, ensuring faster data availability.