We hope to see many new and familiar faces at our event, Aerospace Tech Week in Atlanta! If you are joining us here and reading this at the event, welcome! If you are receiving this magazine at home, please look ahead and consider attending our next event in Munich on April 17 and 18.
For those interested in learning about the latest in technology that can help airlines be more efficient, save money and be sustainable, or those working in the avionics, connectivity, MRO IT, flight ops IT, testing, MRO, MOSA/SOSA/FACE areas, this is the conference to attend.
At the show you will have access to multiple experts in these areas that will speak and share experiences from their operations and about their products and offerings. In this issue of Aerospace Tech Review, we also look at some of the same topics that will be covered at the show. One of those topics is cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity is or should be top of mind for all in aviation. Cyberattacks are becoming more frequent and will likely become more devastating. Being prepared, as much as possible, is key.
Back in June, Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport in Louisiana experienced a cyberattack on its administration system as part of a larger attack by a ransomware group. Fortunately, flight operations were not affected. In April, the international cyber hacking group Anonymous Sudan claimed credit for website outages of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and UPS. Both websites were restored within a couple of hours, and both said there was no impact on operations.
In February, seven German airport websites including those for Dusseldorf, Nuremberg and Dortmund, were knocked offline by a cyberattack.
All of these folks got lucky and these are a few examples of the cyberattacks that target the aviation industry. But concerns about aircraft and their interconnected functions, interfaces and systems, including ground, in-flight and maintenance operations and related processes, are real. These incidents could impact safety, business operations and the company reputations.
Experts from around the world are quoted in our story on cybersecurity by Jim Romeo that touts planning and preparation to anticipate possible cybersecurity breaches as key to preventing or minimizing damage due to them. Cybersecurity awareness, standards and best practices are discussed in the article starting on page 20.
Also in this issue we have an update on blockchain use in aviation. Aviation and blockchain seem like a match made in heaven. Accuracy and integrity of data is crucial to aviation. Blockchain can potentially provide extremely efficient, digitized and incorruptible parts tracking, as well as many other applications. It promises to improve data security, reduce costs and increase the efficiency of processes.
How would blockchain be used in our aviation world? Recording the location of assets in real-time, providing information like flight path, baggage onboarding, tracking down a lost asset, passenger details are some of the ways.
More specifically, in the world of caring for and maintaining aircraft, the experts at consulting firm PwC say it can provide “a boost of power and efficiency” to the MRO side of the airline business. “A picture of each plane’s configuration and maintenance history, accurate up to the second, would make it easier to predict when serious maintenance issues could ground a plane, and to analyze its condition and diagnose potential issues during MRO,” PwC says.
Blockchain offers the promise of continuously updating the logs for each aircraft part’s condition. This could help reduce the time needed for the inspection and maintenance of aircraft. Blockchain may also assist in predictive maintenance efforts. MRO service providers can also use blockchain and provide verifiable documentation for the components they have serviced or installed.
Beyond all that, this technology can help automate payment processes, and improve the ease with which airlines can keep track of the entire life cycle of an aircraft, from the manufacturing process to maintenance and repair process, to end of life.
The experts say cybersecurity is built into blockchain technology because it is a decentralized system built on principles of security, privacy and trust. According to a Deloitte white paper, blockchain is a “promising innovation … towards helping enterprises tackle immutable cyber-risk challenges such as digital identities and maintaining data integrity.”
But the Deloitte paper cautions that, “blockchain’s characteristics do not provide an impenetrable panacea to all cyber ills, to think the same would be naïve at best. Instead, as with other technologies blockchain implementations and rollouts must include typical system and network cybersecurity controls, due diligence, practice and procedures.”
You can see our story on blockchain starting on page 40.
So whether you are joining us either in Atlanta, Munich or both, to learn more about areas of technology that could be so important to your business operations like cybersecurity and blockchain — welcome. We hope you also enjoy the many other areas we will be covering including avionics, connectivity, testing, flight operations IT, MRO IT or MOSA/SOSA/FACE. We look forward to hosting this event and creating the environment of learning, information sharing and provoking new avenues of thought about how to improve aviation and aerospace.