Military Embedded Systems

Uncrewed traffic management cybersecurity model gets green light from FAA


December 27, 2023

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Uncrewed traffic management cybersecurity model gets green light from FAA
Freepik image

ANTWERP, Belgium. Uncrewed traffic management (UTM) system provider Unifly announced the completion of its Unified UTM Cybersecurity Model project, granted aproval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

The project -- together with partners RHEA Group and the New York UAS [uncrewed aerial system] Test Site in Syracuse -- intends to refine a UTM cybersecurity model and validate it in an operational environment. The key characteristics of UTM systems – software-based, highly automated, and relatively new – make them an attractive target for cyberattacks that exploit vulnerabilities, threatening aviation safety, the privacy of airspace users, and business operations.

According to the announcement from Unifly (a Terra Drone Group company), the initial phase of the project consisted of interviews with UTM stakeholders FAA ATO [Federal Aviation Administration – Air Traffic Organization]; NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration]; CNA [The National Security Analysis]; Nav Canada [The Air Navigation Service Provider of Canada]; and DroneUp, a UAS deliver service provider in Virginia Beach. 

Using input from the stakeholders, the Unifly team refined the system requirements and the security controls for the updated prototype model. The extensive validation process was the result of more than 60 actual flights in diverse operational environments at the Syracuse test site, using the Unifly broadcast location and identification device (BLIP); simulated operating conditions were "optimal," "subject to simulated attacks," and "using countermeasures against such attacks." The company reports that it delivered several reports containing findings and best practices, all of which are intended to serve as a baseline for future cybersecurity framework development.

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