Aircraft that are connected to the open world (e.g. internet, wifi, airline IT) will inevitably become a standard enabler of the transformation of operations. This interconnects aerospace stakeholders both on board and on the ground to offer new use cases (e.g. EFB/FMS connection, sustainable operations, autonomy, remote maintenance…) driving operational excellence.
However, connected aircraft operations involves opening doors to worlds which were previously isolated, exposing these safety-critical domains to cyber threats. Official figures confirm that airspace users are increasingly affected by cyber attacks. And any aircraft connected to the open world can also be more easily targeted.
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 monitor them but also to keep the defenses operational while the vulnerabilities evolve at open-world speed.
Furthermore, how, in a highly regulated world required to maintain safety excellence, can the connected aircraft keep protection levels up to date to tackle cyber threats, without impacting aircraft operability?
The solution is the Thales FlytLink Cyber Gateway. The design of the product is compliant to the latest aviation cybersecurity regulations (ED203A). The Gateway design includes a secure boot (only authentic software can run), an end-to-end encrypted communications channels (over Wifi toward onboard PEDs, over public networks toward ground platforms) and an avionics security filter that authenticates and checks open world payloads.
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 the in-flight connectivity systems, FlytLINK Cyber Gateway offers security as well as independent adaptability from the in-flight connectivity capabilities.
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.