UN aviation body ICAO will recommend creating a cyber security task force at a meeting next week in Canada. A task force is needed due to an increasing reliance on interconnected IT systems with operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Linux, and protocols such as IPv6 and Avionics Full Duplex Switched Ethernet (AFDX). A recent paper from the ICAO noted that the current pace and extent of new information technologies is notably increasing the risk from cyber attacks.
The real worry is in ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance broadcast), the next-generation protocol used by air traffic control systems to track aircraft positions, which has been adopted in Australia and in the US. It allows for more precise aircraft tracking, which allows more planes to fly closer together.
The problem is that it is possible, with US$1,500.00 of equipment to tamper with the ADS-B tracking data for planes in the sky and also make planes that aren’t flying appear to be in the sky to air traffic controllers. The equipment needed for such an attack costs as little as US$1,500. The weaknesses in ADS-B have been known for years and the cost for deleting these weaknesses will be both huge and time consuming. A cyber attack tomorrow could shutdown vast tracts of airspace and cause a situation very similar to that seen during the Icelandic volcano incident of April/May 2010 which could sink airlines into the red and cause untold economic damage.
Everything is at risk from deletion of maintenance records to the jamming of GPS signals around airports. In one example from the ICAO: Three software engineers were accused of sabotaging code in June 2011 at a new airport terminal, allegedly because they didn’t get a pay increase from a subcontractor. Three days later, check-in services failed at the terminal, with 50 flights delayed.
A disgruntled airline passenger sitting at home with $1.5k of kit through to a knowledgeable and well-financed terrorist, when it comes to cyber attacks the distinction can be limited at most. Airlines will need to spend further to protect information and systems, and air traffic control and airfield owners right through to parts suppliers will have to become more militarist in their thinking to ward off the inevitable attacks.
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Hainan Airlines Group looks for further European access
Hainan Airlines Group board chairman Chen Feng said Friday that the group has plans for more overseas acquisitions and is just at the beginning of its internationalization process, Chen told reporters at a news conference on the sidelines of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. “There are a lot of Chinese people visiting Europe, and Paris is a big transportation hub there,” Chen said. “We want to enter the market and the only way is through mergers.”
HNA Group announced last month it had acquired a 48% stake in French airline Aigle Azur, the only airlines in Europe still open to all offers are CSA and LOT, neither would give high quality CDG route access.
Right now HNA remains in negotiation with Airbus over that Hong Kong Airlines A380 order cancellation.
The HNA Group is on course for close to $16bn of revenues for this fiscal and is targeting 6 to 10 times that amount over the next decade.
HNA Group continues to target aviation expansion due to the collapse of the shipping industry which is, in Chen’s words: “upside down and too miserable to look at”.
Vijay distances Kingfisher Airlines from United Spirits sale
“Each individual company is a public entity. Kingfisher Airlines’ issues will be resolved by Kingfisher Airlines and UB Holdings. It would be unfortunate if you try to link this transaction with the airline. Let’s not cross contaminate everything and interrelate everything.” That was how Vijay Mallya made it clear that the money was not destined to airline creditors after announcing the deal to sell his United Spirits stake to Diageo. This, just three days after SBI had said the Kingfisher Airlines would have to get capital by the end of this month.
Diageo has agreed to buy a majority stake in United Spirits Ltd, for $2.1bn / Rs 11,000 crore in a cash and debt deal that will see it end up with 53.4% of United Spirits. Diageo, in the end, was willing to pay a heavy price for United Spirits – But given the condition of Vijay’s empire the question for many is why pay this premium – Some 7% on the close last week? That is not a question for this site, intriguing though it is.
Most reading this would have thought that the deal would pay off USL debts and inject funds into Kingfisher Airlines, we here thought Vijay would walk away from his crumbling empire with what cash he could and so this seems to be coming to pass.
Vijay Mallya will stay on as chairman of United Spirits while Diageo will name the top executive team. UBHL will keep 14.9 percent of the company.
Diageo will acquire 27.4% of United Spirits from its founders and a packet of new shares for 1,440 rupees – a premium of around 7% to Thursday’s close.
Diageo will then launch a mandatory offer for another 26% on the open market. If it fails to buy outright control, UBHL would vote with Diageo on decisions for four years. UBHL has an option to sell its remaining shares to Diageo from the end of the first full year of control for seven years.
Diageo said it had also agreed to a request from Vijay Mallya to form a joint venture to run a sorghum beer business in South Africa which it said would help it build its presence in another market with a growing drinking class.