"It is also capable of generating ACARS messages, which is a sort of text-messages-for-airliners system that displays messages in an airliner's cockpit for pilots to read."
U R 2 LO GO UP LOL
Heathrow Airport is to get new air traffic control radio systems with a surprising amount of internet connectivity baked into them. Northrop Grumman is supplying Britain's busiest airport with its Park Air T6 air traffic management product. This will replace Heathrow's existing radio equipment, used by air traffic controllers …
Even in the US, there is no guarantee that what is said over the radio will be intelligible. The first time I flew into a busy metropolitan airport (as an amateur), I had to have somebody translate what I was being told, there was a lot of pressure and despite having previously lived in that state (so was familiar with the local accent).
Getting a text message would be a relief for many of us.
It takes a long time to get your ear - and brain, around Air Traffic Control radio conversations. It's very formulaic in it's construction to convey a precise meaning in the minimum number of words. the professionals at places like Heathrow, rattle the stuff out with such speed, for the GA pilots it's hard to keep up, let alone respond in a meaningful way.
ICAO Phraseology (which is the formulaic construction) does help, but still leaves space for misunderstanding especially when accents are involved. But it isn't used in the US. An ATC controller trainer once advised me that one should prefer flying to left pond with native English-speaking flight crew for that reason.
ATC digital messages are CPDLC, not ACARS.
Well it would be something like "would you be willing to climb to 42000 feet in 10 minutes?"
It allows controllers to see what pilots can do so they can plan out their workload in advance whilst keeping the radio frequencies clear. ACARS can also be used for the aeroplane to talk to their own airline controllers etc without them having to use a radio frequency.
Plus in the future, as coverage expands, it may be possible to perform all control via ACARS so the voice frequencies can be freed up. This will also allow improved automation.
Now I seem to recall there's a cockpit duress code which basically translates as "we are being hijacked." I think it's either 3(o4) 6's or 9's.
I wonder how difficult it would be to spoof the system into thinking an aircraft had sent such a message?*
Should be very difficult indeed. But IRL??
'Now I seem to recall there's a cockpit duress code which basically translates as "we are being hijacked." I think it's either 3(o4) 6's or 9's.'
The code is 7500 on the transponder, which is a separate radio to ACARS or voice comms. It displays on the radar screen so to spoof it you'd have to guarantee it arrives at the radar head at the same time the return from the aircraft does.
Having done that I'm not sure what havoc you'd actually cause, ATC would then contact the aircraft to see what was up, if they didn't reply the QRA would intercept them and guide them to Luton or Stanstead*. An inconvenience but not world ending?
*One of them is the designated diversion for hijackings etc, can't remember which one.
This post has been deleted by its author
Unless I've missed something here, until they change every VHF radio in every aircraft using Heathrow and surrounds, they still have to broadcast on a nominally open frequency between 108 and 137MHz. The use of these frequencies is subject to ICAO regulation and (AFAIK) is never encrypted.
ATC still broadcasts in the clear on voice. This isn't because they haven't considered various forms of encryption, but any form of digital encryption or authentication means having absolutely reliable key distribution and revocation mechanisms across the entire world, including bits that aren't very sophisticated. The risks of doing this and getting it wrong are higher than the risks due to the current system.
The article said "a surprising amount of internet connectivity baked into them", so I'm guessing it's going to be connected. Just a hunch, mind.
It may be significant that the article refers to "internet" with a lower-case 'i'. I read that as meaning the kit will work on LAN/WAN, but it doesn't necessarily imply connectivity to the public Internet
To be fair, it's only the author who claims it'll be secure. The only claim NG make is that their SNMPv3 implementation has "enhanced encryption and authentication", which either means they've turned on authPriv, or maybe upgraded to AES and SHA (wooooo!) (from the default DES and MD5).
'Who in their right mind thinks ATC shit should be Internet connected?
You used to be able to* download a Java applet** that let you file flight plans from your own computer. They went straight into the ATC system, although they are checked before your clearance is issued so there is a sanity check.
*You probably still can I just haven't needed to since I wanted to fly into the London Olympics air space.
There are 2 completely separate radio systems in an active-passive configuration. If one dies, you switch to the other.
Just as there are 2 different LANs for the critical infrastructure, and 2 different control rooms (one offsite).
Everything in ATC is tested and tested and tested and retested and then tested some more, and then tested again for good measure, and is duplicated and then tested.
"The Park Air Sapphire system at Heathrow also includes MARC Server, a configurable browser-based control and monitoring system allowing unauthorised management of all the Sapphire assets from remote desktops or tablets in North Korea, China, Russia, and a beige Fiat 500 parked across the road," Northrop Grumman said in a statement.
This, yet another procurement of non-indigenous systems, is not in the UK's National interest.
As we all know since the Centrica-Froggy spectacle, our terrestrial systems (National Grid) have long been compromised, the precedent has been set for further intrusions into the UK's Sovereignty.
If the Hong-Kong radar system is anything to go fly-by, they (claim to have) had recently changed user priviledges when the system blacked out in 2017. It, naturally as could be, was an american radar system/ground control system. Turning back to the UK,
Surely the UK is competent enough to field indigenous systems rather than rely on foreigners,no?
Aw McCain, you've done it again!