What do you think about this airline vs 5G brouhaha?

Dennis Glatting dg at pki2.com
Thu Jan 20 01:39:18 UTC 2022

On Wed, 2022-01-19 at 16:37 -0500, Scott McGrath wrote:
> I’m guessing you are not a pilot,  one reason aviation is resistant to
> change is its history is written in blood,    Unlike tech aviation is
> incremental change and painstaking testing and documentation of that
> testing.  

True. True. And true. However, as a pilot you should recognize that many
of the protocols used in aviation (e.g., ADS-B and ACARS) are NOT secure
by any stretch of the imagination [1]. In fact, the CRC used to secure
ACARS messages is initialized with zero - it's in the spec.

It is simple to find spoofing code to program a SDR on the Internet to
confuse aviation systems. Additionally, some of the code and systems
used in  aviation cannot be maintained (e.g., [2]) - because the
original developers have died and no one knows how the code works or the
programming languages. The versions of OpenSSL used to secure some
aviation communications dates back to 2008.

I worked in certification. Certification's goal is to *pass
certification and ship aircraft*. Certification's goal is NOT to
strongly test systems and look for weaknesses outside of certification.
In aviation parlance, strong testing is called "engineering testing."
Engineering testing is considered a cost center. When one of the
relatively newer commercial jests shipped, cost centers were downsized
across the aviation lines.

Whereas one can argue standards are written in blood and go through 
strong processes, the practical result is people are flying under the
perceived safety of 50 year old standards and systems. These standards
are also highly politically influenced, which should make no one



> When that does not happen we get stuff like the 737 Max debacle
> Aviation is the antithesis of ‘Move fast and break things mentality’ for
> a very good reason safety.
> On my flying club’s plane every replacement part comes with a pedigree
> which is added to the plane’s maintenance log upon installation and the
> reason for removing the old one recorded 
> Imagine how much easier our networks would be to maintain if we had
> records down to the last cable tie in the data center.   If there was a
> bug in a SFP+ for instance all of them, when they were installed and by
> who and what supplier they came from was readily available sure would
> make my life easier. 
> The reasoning behind that massive pile of documents (pilot joke ‘a plane
> is not ready to fly until the weight of the paperwork equals the weight
> of the airplane’) is that if a failure is traced to a component all of
> them can be traced and removed from service.
> On a Airbus for instance all the takeoff and landing safety systems are
> tied to the RadAlt.  The EU has strict rules about where the c-band can
> be used as does Japan both use the 120 second rule c-band devices not
> allowed in areas where the the aircraft is in its beginning/ending 2
> minutes of flight.
> So the REST of the world got c-band right the US not so much
> On Wed, Jan 19, 2022 at 10:59 AM Dennis Glatting <dg at pki2.com> wrote:
> > On Tue, 2022-01-18 at 12:29 -0800, Michael Thomas wrote:
> > > 
> > > I really don't know anything about it. It seems really late to be
> > > having 
> > > this fight now, right?
> > > 
> > 
> > I worked in aviation as a technologist. Aviation is resistant to
> > change.
> > Any change. When you fly older aircraft, be aware that the software is
> > old. Very old. As in some of the vendors long ago stopped supporting
> > the
> > software kind of old, assuming the vendors still exist. 
> > 
> > Aviation didn't wake up one day with the sudden appearance of 5G. They
> > knew it was comming. They, aviation themselves, are heavily involved
> > in
> > standards. Aviation had plenty of time to test, correct, and protest.
> > 
> > What aviation now wants is a 5G exclusion zone around airports, or
> > what
> > I sarcastically call "a technology exclusion zone," which tends to be
> > businesses and homes. What is aviation going to do when 6G comes
> > along?
> > A new WiFi standard is implemented? Any other unforeseen future
> > wired/wireless technologies? Or perhaps cell phones should go back to
> > Morse Code for aviation's sake?
> > 
> > 🤷‍♂️️
> > 
> > 

Dennis Glatting
Numbers Skeptic

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