Concerns that crucial computer programs were hacked or interfered with onboard lost Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been given tacit acceptance by authorities and searchers for almost as long as the Boeing 777-200ER has been missing. The news about an apparent hack attack on LOT Polish airlines, and earlier, on United Airlines, can only add to those fears.
This detailed story about the Polish attack appears on Wired. It also refers to the ACARS or Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System which the Malaysia authorities said was interfered with on one or more occasions on MH370.
However the problem cited for LOT involved the pre-flight downloading of flight planning information, not the routine reporting of engine performance as had been the case on board the Malaysian flight.
This is the 3 June report on the apparent hack attack that temporarily grounded many domestic US services by United Airlines.
Earlier this year claims were made by a self styled US hacktivist that he had made a commercial jet shift sideways by attacking the IFE system from the seat by cracking open the hardware in a box under the seat and manipulating it with alligator clips.
Those claims were accorded some credence by a US Government Accountability Office reference to the Federal Aviation Administration of FAA that caused Boeing and other authorities to issue strong dissenting statements.
That story, and the loss of MH370, do not therefore appear to be related to this story, other than that it involves the ACARS equipment which is relied upon across the airline industry for a wide range of computer assisted functions.
This is unlikely to stop more widespread questioning of computer system security on airliners occurring, and perhaps that will prove a good thing.
In a statement Qantas said; “The Qantas Group has extremely stringent security measures in place which are continually reviewed as part of normal business practice – these measures are more than enough to mitigate any attempt at remote interference with aircraft systems. We comply with, and in many cases exceed, all regulatory requirements and manufacturers’ recommendations when it comes to the safety and security of our fleet.”