Secure: Air Traffic Control Communications

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Secure: Air Traffic Control Communications

This petition had 99 supporters
Jim Epik started this petition to Federal Aviation Administrator Michael P. Huerta

Are you aware that our nation’s air traffic control communications are unsecure? Do you know that anyone can get on these communications channels and issue false air traffic control commands? In 1993, as a Special Agent for the Federal Aviation Administration, I tracked down and arrested the ``Roanoke Phantom Controller'' for intentionally issuing harmful air traffic commands to passenger aircraft.  Even though incidents continue to occur at an alarming rate, our government has done nothing to correct the underlying problem of so called “phantom controlling ”; unsecured tower operations.

Federal Aviation Administration order 6050.22C states that to maintain a safe and efficient national air space, it is imperative that the air traffic environment be free of harmful radio frequency interference.

Alexander D. Blumenstiel at the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, made the following statements in 1997: people have masqueraded as air-traffic controllers on radio frequencies… altering flight courses and causing serious confusion. Many past accidents could alternatively have been caused intentionally -- and in some cases could be recreated maliciously today. The air-traffic-control system is itself a huge target. Many airports represent vital targets for terrorist.

Associated Press writer David Reed reports that an out-of-work janitor pleaded guilty to giving false radio commands to pilots around Roanoke Regional Airport in Virginia. The phony controller… told pilots of commercial and private planes to break off their landings at the last minute or change altitudes. He also transmitted a phony distress call about an ultralight aircraft.

http://www.4terrorism.com/computersecurity.htm …one of the easiest and, arguably, the most difficult to trace security vulnerabilities is achievable by transmitting unauthorized communications over radio frequencies. These transmissions may spoof air traffic controllers or simply disrupt communications altogether. These incidents are very common, having altered flight courses of commercial aircraft and caused panic and confusion.

Time Report: Frances Romero: Errors and Runway Incidents Soar: October 14, 2011. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report reveals that flying isn’t getting any safer.

Aviation Safety Reporting System: March 2005, en route civil jet at 11000 feet received frequency change instructions from an apparent phantom controller.

This is not a new topic or concern for the FAA, the threat it represents to every person that boards an aircraft is perhaps even more real since 9-11. Our nation has been fortunate thus far that the attacks have been relatively limited in their effect. However, our air traffic controllers are over worked as airports become more congested, a well planned attack could have devastating effects.

The solution is easy; add an “authentication key” to air traffic communications. The device would allow receivers to distinguish between legitimate and bogus transmissions completely eliminating the problem for pilots.

If you believe this is information every American needs to know, please tell your family and friends about this petition. More importantly, if you believe open and unsecured air traffic control radio communication is a situation our government officials need to correct, join with me by signing this petition. Together we will force the FAA into correcting this flaw in our nation’s security before another air accident occurs.

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