A disturbing trend is beginning to evolve and as the goodness of technology grows, so do the negative aspects. Recently, we have been challenged by several various attacks that are coming from hackers trying to wreak havoc on our systems.
There were many flights weeks ago that, when requesting weather information for the airports they were either departing from or arriving too, received erroneous information from our digital uplink systems to the cockpits. This happened across many different airlines and across many different large airports. The ramifications could have been severe because the pressure setting information the pilots received were off by significant margins. We set our altimeters for these local area settings and in some cases, the jets were up to 800ft lower than they were suppose to be due to these errors! The local Air Traffic Controllers were able to give the local pressures from their readings and pilots were able to correct the situation without any major incidences.
To my surprise, the information we attain comes from a single uplink source. The answer I was given is that there was an update made to the system and a glitch allowed these errors to occur. Ironically, at this same time, a man was arrested from one of the flights because he sent an email to a friend saying that he could “hack” into the airplane systems – he was using the airplanes wifi so security was able to pin point the person.
I want you to know that people cannot “hack” directly into the airplane itself. If they try to get into our information that we use with our EFBs and our IPADS, we have backup paper in the cockpits to resort to in order to attain specific airport procedures and information we need. This, along with the aid of the companies, Air Traffic Controllers, manual reversion with jets, and our experience levels, keep you safe.
If you see or hear ANYTHING along these lines, please call the FAA or even the FBI immediately. Do not hesitate to help keep the skies safe!
Blue Skies! See you onboard!