Safety and Security in Air Traffic Control

From passenger transport up to the transport of goods: Air traffic control is an integral part of our everyday life. Quietly it protects, organises and controls the air traffic high above our heads. But: What about the IT security of air traffic control systems? Which impacts have the interconnected world and the digitalisation on such a sensitive field and how can it be protected against threats from the Internet? These questions will be answered in the framework of the recently launched project FLUIT.

[Translate to Englisch:] Bildquelle: Pixabay

KarlsruheJuly 26, 2019 – Communication, navigation and monitoring of the air traffic – these are the tasks of air traffic control. It protects aircrafts against threats and ensures a smooth operation. Not only in passenger transport: Air freight is indispensable for the logistics sector today, whether in the international trade of goods or in the supply of the population with essential goods like medicaments. This means that the air traffic control is a target where a lot is at stake. The weak point: the security of their IT systems.

Jochen Rill, who has a diploma in Computer Science and is the contact person for the project FLUIT at the FZI knows that too: "Air traffic control systems are traditionally operated relatively isolated from each other. This is why IT security did not play an important role in air traffic control until now. However, we notice that the global networking increases in this field. This creates numerous, mostly unknown threats."

Already known threats come, for example, from the industrial environment. Similar to air traffic controls, the industry worldwide goes through a digitalisation process towards the so-called Industry 4.0. Interconnected production facilities, have to deal with topics like the defence of hacker attacks, the safeguarding of communication interfaces or the protection against malware now.

Since May 1, the joint research project "Sicherheit für vernetztes Flugverkehrsmanagement" (safety and security for interconnected air traffic management) short: FLUIT, is running at the FZI in Karlsruhe. Jochen Rill explains, how the project team approaches the new questions: "In the framework of FLUIT, we initially determine the current situation of IT security in air traffic control. In the second step, we develop a whole range of measures suitable for facing these threats. A guide shall provide operators of air traffic control facilities with best practices concerning the handling of IT security." On a long-term, we want to use the results for initiating a national and international standardisation project, states Rill. The solutions developed in the framework of the project FLUIT, shall be established by means of a comprehensive training concept as fast as possible for operators of air traffic control facilities – and the air traffic control shall thus become safer and securer in the future.

The project FLUIT is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and runs between 01.05.2019 until 30.04.2022. It is led by the FREQUENTIS-COMSOFT GmbH. In addition to the FZI, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the DLR Gesellschaft für Raumfahrtanwendungen mbH (DLR GfR) work on the project. EDMO-Flugbetrieb GmbH, Special Airport Oberpfaffenhofen as well as AIRSYS – Airport Business Information Systems GmbH of the Hamburg Airport are also associated partners of the project.

About the FZI Research Center for Information Technology

The FZI Research Center for Information Technology, with its head office in Karlsruhe and a branch office in Berlin, is a non-profit institution for applied research in information technology and technology transfer. Its task is to provide businesses and public institutions with the latest research findings in information technology. It also qualifies young researchers for their career in academics or business as well as self-employment. Led by professors from different faculties, research teams at the FZI interdisciplinarily develop and prototype concepts, software, hardware and system solutions for their clients. The FZI House of Living Labs provides a unique research environment for applied research. The FZI is the innovation partner of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

Further information

Julia Feilen, Communications
FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik
Haid-und-Neu-Str. 10-14, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
Phone: +49 721 9654-943
Email: feilen@fzi.de
Web: www.fzi.de/en