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News

New secure aircraft communication system

Honeywell Specialty Materials : 24 April, 2006  (New Product)
Honeywell announced today that it has conducted successful flight tests of a Communications Management Unit that uses proven, industry standard cryptographic technology to secure datalink messages sent to and from aircraft via the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System.
'Currently, individuals with inexpensive radio scanners and freeware available through the internet are able to monitor unsecure ACARS message transmissions,' said Frank Daly, President of Honeywell Commercial Electronic Systems. 'Flight plans and other sensitive information can be intercepted easily, and in many cases computer enthusiasts retrieve and post such information on internet web sites for anyone to see.'

The flight tests involved Honeywell's existing CMU avionics outfitted with the new Secure ACARS software. The avionics transmitted and received messages securely over the operational ACARS network operated by SITA.

Honeywell's Global Data Center, Redmond, Washington, processed the secure messages on the ground. Participants on the three hour test flight included US Air Force personnel from the Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Illinois, and the Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio. Both the US Air Force, which co-funded the development of this commercial security technology, and Honeywell's commercial customers, are interested in this technology due to growing concern over the security of aircraft communications.

In addition to protecting messages from interception by unauthorized individuals, Honeywell's new Secure ACARS system:
Provides message authentication to assure the recipient that the message is from a legitimate source.
Uses cryptographic integrity algorithms to assure that messages are not corrupted, either accidentally or intentionally.
Employs data compression to reduce transmitted data message size by up to 30 percent.
Enables each operator to configure the system in accordance with the operator's particular security policy.

Secure ACARS not only supports today's ACARS network, but is designed for forward compatibility with International Civil Aviation Organization security requirements for future air traffic control datalink communications.
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