U.S., European Aviation Authorities at Odds Over Cybersecurity


U.S. and European aviation authorities are at odds over one of the industry’s hot-button issues: devising ways to protect an array of aircraft from potential cyberattacks.

Regulators and committees of experts on both sides of the Atlantic are considering beefing up standards for onboard electronics to shield airliners, business jets and small private planes from such threats.

There is general agreement on updating software and implementing future safeguards for large commercial planes, including enhanced separation of cabin entertainment and passenger Internet access from any safety-related systems. But people involved in the discussions say the two sides remain divided over the best approach and extent of testing necessary to ensure the integrity of software and hardware of electronics on smaller models. Unless the issue is resolved relatively quickly, industry officials worry U.S. suppliers could face major challenges selling avionics and various flight-management systems for general aviation and some business aircraft in Europe.

Details of the trans-Atlantic tiff, which haven’t been reported before, emerged during a meeting of U.S. industry and government experts in Washington last week. At one point,Richard Jennings, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s main representative to RTCA Inc., the U.S. standard-setting organization working on the issue, said: “We may just have to agree to disagree.” Mr. Jennings didn’t elaborate.

Others familiar with the details said the friction stems from different approaches by the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency to deal with aircraft having fewer than 19 seats. EASA and European advisory groups want to subject all aircraft, regardless of size, essentially to the same cybersecurity standards.


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Credit: The Wall Street Journal