Monthly Archives: April 2013

Last week the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) supported the FCC proposal to provide a specific spectrum for mission critical communications and urged them not to include commercial mission critical communications service providers, which could lead to congestion or interference in the band.

UTC also supported the decision to combine the 3.5 GHz and 3.65 GHz bands, leading to the creation of a 150 MHz juxtaposed spectrum, offering additional capacity and allowing for coordination of real-time operations within a regulatory framework, preventing interference, relying on a Spectrum Access System.

“The 3.5 GHz band can be used effectively to support various utility communications needs, such as grid modernization and emergency response in the aftermath of hurricanes, storms and other disasters when utilities work with public safety and restore service,” said UTC’s Vice President of Government and Industry Affairs & Deputy General Council, Brett Killbourne. “As such, UTC applauds the Commission for its initiative in proposing in the 3.5 GHz rulemaking to establish a Priority Access tier for utilities’ and other mission critical communications.”

The pressure is on for Airport security providers to step-up technological solutions after the IATA announced its intention to eliminate queues at airports by 2020.

This year the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will run ten more trials for the initiative to implement its ‘Checkpoint of the Future Roadmap’, aimed at the elimination of queues in airports by the end of the decade.

Trials are already underway at London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol and Geneva airports and involve the pre-screening of passengers, explosive detection and biometric data verification instead of traditional scanning methods.

Concerns have arisen as passenger numbers continue to grow year after year, but passenger processing has slowed by over 50% since the events of 9/11.  The new advanced security checkpoint is set to be introduced by 2014 and will speed up the process, eventually eliminating queues altogether.

“We are slowly moving toward the same alignment on security that we have achieved on safety. But we are not there yet and that concerns me greatly,” Tony Tyler, CEO & Director General of IATA, told the Ops conference in Vienna last week.

Airport security providers, such as ARINC’s PSIM solution, are already delivering biometric and automated airport security with their industry-leading technology.  ARINC provide their PSIM solution in over half the U.S. nuclear installations and are ahead of the game when it comes to mission-critical communications and biometric scanning.

Airport Security Providers

Airport Security Providers

Oman Air, the national carrier of Oman, announced an increase of 130% in internet package sales and a 180% jump in connectivity income over the last year.   The most significant rises are with the use of Smartphones on the Muscat to London Heathrow service.

Oman Air’s Chief Executive Officer, Wayne Pearce said, “The increase in passengers’ use of the service in 2012 underlines their growing expectation that similar levels of connectivity should be available in the air as they are on the ground.  I am pleased that the continued increase in uptake since we introduced the service in 2010 shows that Oman Air still leads the field in this area.”

“Digital communications are playing an increasingly important role in all our lives and, in addition to onboard connectivity and services such as online booking and web check-in, Oman Air is rapidly expanding its online customer engagement. Our social media presence is growing daily and we are offering many more online-only special offers than ever before. Having pioneered onboard connectivity, we are committed to remaining in the vanguard of 21st Century communications,” Pearce concluded.

Ghana is the latest country to implement biometrics to improve airport security and enhance border control.  The Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) recognised the need to streamline the immigration process with the implementation of electronic border control, visa and permit applications and the installation of electronic gates at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport to enhance airport.

GIS director and Commissioner of Police Dr Peter A Wiredu said, “To maintain Ghana’s economic development, we need an immigration system that can meet the challenges of rapid growth in international travel.”

The GIS has awarded the contract to implement the scheme to Gemalto, who will, with the assistance of Avalon Biometrics, install the fully computerized system.  Dr Wiredu added, “Gemalto has contributed to more than 80 successful government programmes worldwide and has all the required project management skills, reputation and expertise to deliver the country’s new IT infrastructure.”

The eGhana project, which encompasses this initiative, will also set up an online portal, data centre and network upgrade for visa applications and issuance of permits.  The project will allow Ghana to monitor the movements of its borders, as growth continues and will enhance passenger experience with faster, controlled processing while maintaining airport security like never before.

Airport security systems such as that offered by ARINC – AviNet Airport – are becoming increasingly popular worldwide as they offer airlines the chance to improve security whilst concurrently improving efficiency.

Last week, at the Hamburg Aircraft Interiors Expo, much excitement was generated by some of the innovative technological advancements set to change the in-flight cabin experience.

From a partnership with Bose, to improve in-flight entertainment with a range of noise-cancelling headphones to Twinings, for a great cup of tea, brand partnerships are a growing trend for airlines in an aim to enhance passenger comfort and experience.

The second in a stream of improvements is the issue of tablet computers to flight attendants, who are now able to be better connected and will be able, for example, to warn passengers of baggage delays or problems to save stress at the carousel.  The tablets will be connected to passenger headrest consoles, enabling them to request help or order directly from the console to the tablet.

In addition to improving passenger experience, the issue of the tablet will streamline communications to the flight deck and to ground-based personnel and will increase efficient operations, maximising the resources of staff for airlines and airports.

In Holland, KLM announced the release of their latest mobile app, following the realisation of the growth of passenger connectivity via Smartphone use.  The airline hopes to begin a free in-flight wifi trial later this year.  They will introduce real-time customer service operations for passengers to provide feedback and have problems dealt with immediately via an intranet connected to teams of iPad-bearing staff.

Virgin America is also developing a similar interactive service, with both airlines paving the way for passenger satisfaction and confidence.

Another interesting reveal at the expo was a growing market for airline and airport specific ‘souvenirs’.   Designers are using the latest trends in fashion to create mementos that passengers will want to use long after their flight experience and creating a realistic income stream for the airlines.

Take the stylish Finnair teaset, for example:

cabin trends Hamburg Expo

Brussels Airport and Brussels Airlines have announced their plan to test self-service bag drop over the next few months for passengers travelling within Europe.

Passengers who have checked-in online and have self-printed or mobile boarding passes will be able to use the self-service bag drop desks to weigh, measure and check-in their luggage, then print a baggage label from the self-service bag drop counter to attach themselves.

The airport will use the Dutch company, Type 22’s Scan & Fly, user-friendly technology, in two kiosks for the test, which is set to run until the summer.

“During the trial stage we will test the user-friendliness of the technology,” said Peter Cornillie, Brussels Airlines Vice President Ground Operations. “If the results are positive, the automated baggage check-in system will become a permanent option for all of our passengers travelling within Europe.”

Self-service bag drop is the way forward to streamline airport operations with common-use desks for multiple airlines, widely used in the U.S. using world-leading ARINC technology solutions.

ARINC Self Service Bag Drop

Business Aviation News - Border Management Solutions

Business Aviation News – Border Management Solutions

This week saw the introduction of tighter security measures in Fiji as the Immigration Department implemented the new Integrated Border Management System (IBMS) at Nadi International Airport and every other entry point countrywide.

The Fijian Government awarded the contract for installation to Public Sector Solution of Informatics International Limit, a Sri Lankan company who implemented the IBMS, state-of-the-art technology with features designed to enhance passenger profiling and visual verifications that can assist in the identification of high-risk passengers.

IBMS will change the face of security and enhance border management system control, maximising efficiency and productivity with features including access to data, passport and citizenship information, visa and permit modules.

“It will allow for a quick flow of all of our immigration processes and ensure there is quick turnaround time for each passenger that enter or leave our country,” said Major Nemani Vuniwaqa, Director of Immigration for Fiji.  “It strengthens our security system at all of our borders and ensures that we find people that may, in the past, slipped through.”

The alarming issue of aircraft hacking with the Smartphone app designed by Hugo Teso continues this week as he claims he could create false ACARS messages that could distract pilots with false weather or air traffic information.

Since the current ACARS system uses no authentication, Teso, an engineer and pilot, who works for a German security company, declared it was possible to cause these disruptions from a Smartphone, while seated on the plane.  He uses technology called ‘software defined radio’ to mimic the ACARS VHF frequency.

Teso, speaking at the ‘Hack in the Box’ conference in Amsterdam last week, says he bought second-hand Honeywell and Rockwell Collins Flight Management System equipment from eBay and extensively tested his app.  His findings have led him to believe that he could produce malformed ACARS messages to trigger vulnerabilities in the flight management systems on certain aircraft, potentially giving a hacker a degree of control over the aircraft.












The U.S. FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have dismissed his claims, highlighting the fact that he has only tested his app on flight training simulation software and not on the protected technology that exists on a real flight deck.

A spokesman for EASA said that no, “Potential vulnerabilities on actual flying systems,” have been shown, and that, “The simulation does not have the same overwriting protection and redundancies included in certified flight software.”

Although both agencies strongly deny the possibilities of interference through ACARS messages, Teso states that he is “working with EASA to improve the situation.”


Following alarming claims made by German IT Consultant, Hugo Teso, regarding his ability to ‘hack’ into navigational systems of aircraft, using only an Android app, the FAA and the EASA have issued statements to the contrary; neither feeling that his claims pose any real threat to flight safety.

According to Information Week, the FAA state that it “is aware that a German information technology consultant has alleged he has detected a security issue with the Honeywell NZ-2000 Flight Management System (FMS) using only a desktop computer,” and adds that the app does not, “pose a flight safety concern because it does not work on certified flight hardware.  The described technique cannot engage or control the aircraft’s autopilot system using the FMS or prevent a pilot from overriding the autopilot,” and says that, “a hacker cannot obtain ‘full control of an aircraft’ as the technology consultant has claimed.”

Teso claims to have carried out research, using the Android app in a closed, PC-based system with simulation software.  He alleges that flaws in the Honeywell NZ-2000 Flight Management System, particularly in the navigational security systems, would render it simple to use on a live aircraft to perform ‘tricks’, such as letting the oxygen masks fall from overhead.  On a more serious note, Teso goes on to allege that he could just as easily use the app to crash the plane into another aircraft during flight, which has, understandably, caused much panic in the aviation industry and public alike.

The European Aviation Safety Association (EASA) issued the following statement, “There are major differences between PC-based training FMS software and embedded FMS software.  In particular, the FMS simulation software does not have the same overwriting protection and redundancies that is included in the certified flight software.”

Airline passengers across the world will be relieved to learn that Hugo Tero won’t be releasing details of his exploitation methods and will be working with aviation governing bodies to make sure that the systems are updated if it is proved necessary.  The FAA and EASA cannot fully reassure concerns, however, as it remains to be seen whether the hack is a software issue or due to redundancies built into the systems, which, if proved, could lead to resourceful hackers finding other exploits or loopholes in the systems.

ARINC Cabin ConnectA new Ka-Band delivered high-speed broadband service was on display for the first time for visitors to the Hamburg Aircraft Interiors Expo last week.  GX Aviation, launched by Inmarsat, will be supported by new avionics developed by Honeywell and will be commercially available in early 2015.

Jack Jacobs, Vice President of Marketing Product and Management, Honeywell Aerospace said: “The consumer demand for fast, global in-flight connectivity continues to grow at a monumental rate. People want to be connected no matter where they are and have the same Internet experience that they have at home.”

The world-leading satellite communications company, Inmarsat, plans to change the face of in-flight connectivity with GX Aviation, designed to provide throughputs of up to 50Mbps with uninterrupted global broadband coverage, offering like-for-like, ground-based comparative connectivity.

“The world is changing and airlines are seeking to keep up with passengers’ expectations. Our new GX service, which can be combined with our existing L-band solution, enables airlines to capitalise on already installed hardware to provide high speed broadband service with complete geographical coverage for all aircraft requirements, both in the cockpit and the cabin,” says Inmarsat’s Miranda Mills, Vice President of Aerospace.