Monday, Aug. 19, 2019 | 2 a.m.
The July 30 Associated Press story “U.S. issues hacking security alert for small planes,” published on lasvegassun.com, missed or mischaracterized some key points about small-airplane security.
First, it pointed to a recent Department of Homeland Security notice, inferring it was focused only on cybersecurity concerns for small, “general aviation” aircraft, when the fact is, the notice applies to all aircraft.
Second, the story — which included not a single aviation-industry source — arguably misrepresented the nature of the potential security breach involved. For example, the piece failed to fully explain that for the scenario to occur, an individual would need to board an aircraft, dismantle its avionics system, locate a certain, small piece of technology and effectively disable it.
The reason such a relatively complex scenario hasn’t unfolded — the reason TSA audits have never found general aviation airplanes to be a security concern — is that the industry has always made security a top priority, with a host of measures that harden aircraft from threats. An Airport Watch program includes a toll-free reporting number directly to the TSA. Pilots carry tamper-resistant, government-issued ID, and passengers on many general aviation flights undergo strict background checks. The government cross-checks records for airmen, and monitors aircraft sales to find suspicious activity.
The writer is president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association.