(Cyber)securing the Future of UAS Through Standards

We stand on precipice of a new era of aviation – one that will include drones and urban air mobility (UAM) revolutionizing the way goods are purchased, services are performed, and people are transported. The aerospace and defense industry is investing billions of dollars each year to ensure that the U.S. remains the global leader in this technology and that this vision for the future becomes a reality.

But to get that future, we need more than just policy and smart regulations – we need industry consensus standards on critical matters, such as cybersecurity.

The aviation industry relies on industry consensus standards on everything from fasteners to safety management systems and everything in between. Since 1938, AIA’s National Aerospace Standards (NAS) program, has developed over 3,000 industry standards used by the industry for the products that move, connect, and secure our world every day.

As we continue to create the technologies of tomorrow, we need to create new standards to ensure these technologies can integrate safely into the national airspace system. One standard that will be critical for these future technologies will need to focus on cybersecurity.

For the past 30-40 years, cybersecurity has been a major focus of the aviation industry, and we have relied on strong partnerships and information sharing between the industry and government to optimize our cybersecurity. However, technologies like drones and UAM will present new threats and challenges. Drones will operate differently than traditional manned aircraft. For example, small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will operate mainly below 400 feet and will be connected to what is called UAS Traffic Management (UTM). The drone will be connected to that platform by a form of radiofrequency spectrum and will likely operate off devices such as a pilot-in-command’s cell phone. That common example presents many challenges, such as a drone’s camera being hacked, from a cybersecurity standpoint that have yet to be addressed by industry via a standard.

To meet the demand for future technologies, AIA is pleased to announce that we are authoring a new standard focused specifically on UAS Cybersecurity. In order to accomplish this work, we are bringing together the brightest minds from industry and government to write a performance-based industry consensus standard.

The aviation industry today is on its way to realizing a future where drones deliver packages to your doorstep and your daily commute means flying over traffic. As industry and government work together on strong policy and regulations, these industry consensus standards will bring us closer to that future.