Decision Maker

Mr. Urs Rothacher

  • Flarm - Co-founder, Chairman

Does Mr. Urs Rothacher have the power to decide or influence something you want to change? Start a petition to this decision maker.Start a petition
Petition against FLARM decision to encrypt the communication protocol

Dear Sergio Elia and petitioners, FLARM Technology has always strived to act transparently and to participate in discussions whenever possible. The rationale for choosing the current architecture was published in 2008 and has remained essentially unchanged since. You will find the updated document at Please read it as part of this reply. The petition contains various inaccuracies and misunderstandings. It states disapproval, but fails to offer sustainable alternatives. Maintaining compatibility while improving and growing a distributed system with thousands of devices is challenging. What the petition proposes would not achieve the goals stated in it. To quote H.L. Menken “There is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong” In case you would like to withdraw your support for the petition, locate your confirmation mail and click on "Didn't sign this petition? Click here”. This is the official and only way to unsubscribe. Below short replies to the key elements of the petition; for additional information please refer to the document linked above. "Compatibility among manufacturers": A very successful compatibility framework, based on 'compatibility by design' was introduced in 2005 and is currently in use by nine independent suppliers. Their devices are fully compatible and support all updates and enhancements released since 2004, details in the link above. It is also worth noting that most new FLARM installations are not in gliders, but in powered aircraft, hang-gliders, RPAS/UAV, helicopters, etc. We must consider the requirements of all these stakeholders when advancing FLARM’s technology. "Publish protocol": In order to guarantee compatibility, much more has to be done than using the same radio protocol. Semantics, behavior, and intellectual property must be considered and procedures must be established to enable improvements and ensure compatibility. "Need for encryption": Encryption is a key element of communication and a consequence of privacy, security and integrity requirements. It was introduced nearly a decade ago and is part of the update process. Since decryption or interception of encrypted communication is illegal in most countries, this also ensures integrity beyond the technical barriers. "Encryption performance": The encryption applied is a standard symmetric cipher, lean enough to be run on all devices with no performance degradation. Secure flight recording, fixed hazard algorithms, and handling interfaces all consume CPU performance, all not related to aircraft collision avoidance but clearly desired by users. FLARM’s hardware and software are capable of handling these tasks without jeopardizing core functions. "Commercial considerations": FLARM Technology Ltd. strives to keep cost as low as possible for our partners and customers, but also invests significantly into advancing the technology. Besides the technical achievements, we are proud to have created an economically sustainable framework that still offers free updates and upgrades after more than ten years and with no end in sight. We won’t apologize for not being financed by taxpayers’ money or subsidies. "DSX incompatible": FLARM was always transparent about discussions with the one individual behind DSX through postings in our news feed, our website and on an Italian news-list in January 2008. DSX was offered the standard compatibility framework in 2006 and 2007. However, after lengthy discussions, DSX fundamentally rejected FLARM’s philosophy on maintaining compatibility and sustainability. We do not know to what extent DSX has informed its customers about the fundamental limitations of their devices, but judging from their feedback, there must be significant misunderstandings for which FLARM cannot be blamed. "IGC decision 2008": Based on discussions mostly conducted in Italy, IGC decided in 2008 to mandate FAI with the creation of a stable standard for radio communications. To the best of our knowledge, this has not been pursued further, which is not a surprise as knowledgeable experts at the time advised against this endeavor. "Waiting for feedback": You have chosen to launch a petition without previously contacting FLARM or verifying the claims in the petition. If you were truly interested in improving safety, you would have chosen a different approach. Fly safe and enjoy! Urs Rothacher, Andrea Schlapbach, Urban Maeder FLARM Founders Daniel Hoffmann FLARM General Manager FLARM Technology Ltd.

3 years ago