Digital image of the Boeing 747-8 from Boeing's

Digital image of the Boeing 747-8 from Boeing's

The Boeing 747-8 is just a few weeks away from taking off for the first time. Before the plane goes into service, the FAA wants to make certain the plane’s computer systems cannot be hacked. Even though this sounds like the makings of a summer blockbuster movie, the FAA and Boeing want to make sure it can’t become a reality.

The FAA states the Boeing 747-7, “will have novel or unusual design features associated with the architecture and connectivity capabilities of the airplane’s computer systems and networks, which may allow access to external computer systems and networks”.

With passengers being able to access on board internet and in flight entertainment systems, there is a chance someone could cause harm to the aircraft’s computer systems. The FAA requested similar precautions for the Boeing 787 as well.

By the time the 747-8 can fly passengers:

* Boeing must ensure electronic system security protection for the aircraft control domain and airline information domain from access by unauthorized sources external to the airplane, including those possibly caused by maintenance activity.
* Boeing must ensure that electronic system security threats from external sources are identified and assessed, and that effective electronic system security protection strategies are implemented to protect the airplane from all adverse impacts on safety, functionality, and continued airworthiness.

Vijay Takanit, a vice-president for Exostar which provides airline security solution stated points out that most of what happens for passengers and for pilots are disconnected, but there is some crossover. “The passenger equipment, the equipment that is actually providing service in the cabin, is completely segregated from what is providing services in the cockpit. But there is some crossover and [the industry] is trying very hard to make sure the number of crossover points are very limited.”

Find out more information at Mary Kirby’s Runway Girl blog.

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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This seems silly to me. Why would Boeing connect in-flight entertainment to anything vital to the plane? It doesn’t even make sense from an architecture standpoint.

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