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Remote Control To Prevent Aircraft Hijacking

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the fly-by-really-long-wire dept.

Security 544

Snad writes "The UK's Evening Standard is reporting that Boeing plans to roll out aircraft remote control systems in a bid to eliminate the threat of terrorist hijackings, and prevent any repetition of the events of September 11 2001. 'Scientists at aircraft giant Boeing are testing the tamper-proof autopilot system which uses state-of-the-art computer and satellite technology. It will be activated by the pilot flicking a simple switch or by pressure sensors fitted to the cockpit door that will respond to any excessive force as terrorists try to break into the flight deck. Once triggered, no one on board will be able to deactivate the system. Currently, all autopilots are manually switched on and off at the discretion of pilots. A threatened airliner could be flown to a secure military base or a commercial airport, where it would touch down using existing landing aids known as 'autoland function'.'"

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544 comments

Let's not get all technical now (5, Funny)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268472)

Remote control systems should simply augment human control systems. In this scenario, the human control system is much more effective. Specifically, "passengers beating the living shit out of all hijackers."

Re:Let's not get all technical now (4, Insightful)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268566)

Sorry, maybe next generation. This one isn't even tough enough to get hit with a rubber ball in gym class without crying and suing the school.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (4, Funny)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268642)

And THAT is the real tragedy that so few seems to notice. What ever happened to fight or flight?

Re:Let's not get all technical now (0, Flamebait)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268772)

If we weren't such pussies we would have done what Israel did to Lebanon when Hamas took two guys hostage.

Except we would have scaled it up to the extent that 9/11 is to taking two hostages.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268906)

If we weren't such pussies we would have done what Israel did to Lebanon when Hamas took two guys hostage.

We aren't pussies. Our fearless leader just had other priorities. Rather then rally the country behind him ala FDR after Pearl Harbor he decided to try and use it as an excuse to take down Saddam. Days after 9/11 Bush and Cheney were looking at ways to tie Saddam to the attacks.

FDR desperately wanted war with Nazi Germany but he didn't try to blame Pearl Harbor on them.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269042)

Our president's intentions to take down Saddam after 9/11 don't change the fact that we, America and probably most of the first world, are pussies. Have you ever been in a fight? I've never been in a fight. I was a gigantic asshole for the last two years high school and never found myself in the slightest danger of receiving even a single punch.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18269088)

Well, if you subscribe to the "Loose Change" hype, then that's what bush was planning to use 9/11 for

Re:Let's not get all technical now (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269040)

In the words of The Onion:

U.S. Vows To Defeat Whoever It Is We're At War With
September 26, 2001 | Issue 3734

WASHINGTON, DC--In a televised address to the American people Tuesday, a determined President Bush vowed that the U.S. would defeat "whoever exactly it is we're at war with here."

"America's enemy, be it Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, a multinational coalition of terrorist organizations, any of a rogue's gallery of violent Islamic fringe groups, or an entirely different, non-Islamic aggressor we've never even heard of... be warned,"

Re:Let's not get all technical now (1)

edward2020 (985450) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268992)

That's why robots, such as mentioned in another story today, should accompany each and every person. To protect us from terrorists and beat down any deviant thought.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (0, Offtopic)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268574)

I agree, I honestly don't see any airliner being hijacked again after Sept 11th. Waving box cutters in the air isn't going to scare a damn person when the first thing they believe is that they are going to die no matter if the comply or not. This idea while pretty cool is just a huge waste of $$ passengers will police airliners way more effectively.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (1)

Em Ellel (523581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268738)

A quick search reveals a number of airplane hijackings since 9/11 so I am not sure what is your point.

-Em

Re:Let's not get all technical now (2, Insightful)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268848)

Successful Hijackings? I guess people are more cowardly than I thought, these days no weapon would keep me in my seat if someone tried to hijack a plane I was a passenger in, I'd rather die fighting than strapped in my seat.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268952)

Well, note that none of them were in the United States; countries further removed from the events of 9/11 might not have gotten the memo yet: namely, that there's only going to be one way out of a hijacked aircraft, and that's inside a body bag.

Or maybe they have nicer terrorists there. Who knows.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269012)

Except the auto pilot could add another way.

Onto a secured military base.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269098)

Al Qaeda may prefer to use planes as missiles, but many other terrorist groups still hijack planes the old-fashioned way: They take over the plane and force the pilot to fly them somewhere else. In the US, we are now (since 9/11) far more likely to assume that a hijacker is of the kill everyone, Al Qaeda type, because we have recent and very memorable experience with that sort of hijacker, and no recent experience with the old fashioned kind. This may not be the case in other countries.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268970)

Problem is what if they shoot the pilots, and then the passengers fight back. No one to fly the plane! This will allow the planes to still land safely even if the pilots are killed.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268696)

How Brave you are when it is not you or your love ones who are under the gun, pun intended. The simple fact is that this sounds like one of the best ways to deal with hijackers. And once you have it in some aircrafts, let would be hijackers know that before they think about it. It removes their ability to use an aircraft as a weapon, though the passengers can be terrorized.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (1)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268754)

Specifically, "passengers beating the living shit out of all hijackers."

Because that worked so well on the United 93 flight, right?

Not saying I am for this system (way too much room for abuse imo); And I much rather opt for heavier enforced cockpit-doors and an inability for the pilots to open those doors for the entire flight.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (2, Funny)

SirWhoopass (108232) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269060)

and inability for the pilots to open those doors

That's absurd. With a system such as that, how are the flight attendants going to bring them martinis?

Re:Let's not get all technical now (2, Interesting)

Ayal.Rosenthal (1070472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268788)

Exactly. If this system ever comes online then hijackers will simply plan and figure out a way to disable the system. Its easier said than done, and probably very costly, but if you get the right hackers you can break into (almost) any system. - Ayal Rosenthal

Re:Let's not get all technical now (2, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268918)

Exactly. If this system ever comes online then hijackers will simply plan and figure out a way to disable the system. Its easier said than done, and probably very costly, but if you get the right hackers you can break into (almost) any system. - Ayal Rosenthal

While this may be true, it doesn't mean that deploying such a system isn't worth it.

What you're saying is exactly like "if we get a bank vault, the thieves will just plan and figure out a way to get into the vault. It's easier said than done, and probably very costly, but if you get the right safecrackers, you can break into almost any bank."

Well, yeah -- but the point isn't that the system is foolproof, it's that the system discourages criminals, or makes them less likely to succeed, before they can be caught or neutralized by other means. Every bank knows that their vault can be broken into with enough effort -- all you need is a big drillpress with a magnetic base, and a diamond-burr coring tool, and enough knowledge of the vault to know where to drill -- but that doesn't mean that they just leave their money out on the counter at night.

By making it harder to hijack a plane, you require any potential hijackers to have more resources, which limits the pool of potential attackers. Rather than hundreds of terrorist groups who could hijack an airliner, you might shorten the list to a few dozen.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (1)

PoderOmega (677170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268852)

Putting a strong lock on the cockpit door would probably be a cheaper alternative to remote controlled airliners.

Re:Let's not get all technical now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18269062)

Like these folks? [foxnews.com]

Different problem (5, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268494)

Won't terrorists instead try and find ways to take over the remote control system? Why limit yourself to simply crashing one plane when you can crash them all.

RTFA (5, Informative)

Dr Kool, PhD (173800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268578)

No remote access allowed unless the pilot flips a switch in the plane.

Re:RTFA (4, Insightful)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268616)

No remote access allowed to a computer without the administrator password, either.

Re:RTFA (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269030)

Unless it's turned off by default. Depending on the OS, of course.

Re:RTFA (3, Informative)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268646)

No remote access allowed unless the pilot flips a switch in the plane.

Or someone knocks on the door... hard.

Re:RTFA (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268680)

and cars won't start unless a key is inserted and turned in the ignition or the button on the remote is pressed. don't BTFA just because you RTFA

Re:RTFA (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268724)

Or someone runs into the door really hard. So now all you have to do to take over a plane is get to the flight deck door.

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18269074)

So now all you have to do to take over a plane is get to the flight deck door.
 
Because taking over a plane is the same as having it routed to an airport and landed by a crew on the ground? Man, those 9/11 terrorists were wild and crazy guys. They thought thet idea was to use them to harm others. Damn, I guess the jokes on them.
 
Don't be a fucktard, fucktard.

Flight to nowhere (1)

BeerCat (685972) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268946)

So, the pilot flips a switch, and the autopilot takes over, and takes the plane to .... where, exactly?

Let's presume that it was pre-programmed on the ground. So, at LAX, it will take the plane to some Californian AFB. So far, so good. But, if the hijacker comes in on approach to JFK, does this mean the aircraft then does a 180 turn and heads back?

Fuel requirements may be to have 90min reserves, over and above what is required for the flight. So, this would have the plane run out of fuel 90 min after turning round.

OK, so the destination is set for the arrival airport, then. Even better - it will go straight there, and neatly ignore all the other traffic in the approach.

To be honest, I can see the airlines doing this deliberatle to keep to their schedules (nothing beats queue jumping!)

Maybe, the autopilot has no preset destination, then. OK, the aircraft will then head for 0 latitude, 0 longitude. Not a good move either.

Pretty rubbish idea, really.

Won't change anything actually (5, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268810)

Hijackers simply start shooting passengers until they remotely fly him where he wants to go.

Fanatics are irrational by design...

Re:Won't change anything actually (4, Funny)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268916)

The failsafe autopilot also disperses chloroform into the air supply. Just don't tell any terrorists, it's a secret.

Re:Different problem (4, Informative)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268920)

More difficult problem for the terrorists. Now, instead of just having to figure out

a. how to hijack the plane
b. how to fly it to the destination of their choice

they also have to figure out

c. how to override the remote control system

This increases their planning overhead, their budget overhead, and possibly their coordination overhead. They also have to acquire more information from more sources, and possibly design, manufacture, and smuggle aboard additional equipment.

It's certainly not a foolproof solution, but even a half-ass implementation will force would-be hijackers to escalate their own operations, to the detriment of their overall chances of success.

Re:Different problem (4, Funny)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268926)


Didn't you read the article? It's "tamper-proof" and "uses state-of-the-art computer and satellite technology" - so terrorists won't be able to do that. You can sleep easy, little fella, there's nothing to worry about - us big folk have it all under control...

(/sarcasm)

Let 'em try. (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268972)

We have Chloe O'Brian and they don't.

Re:Different problem (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18268976)

Because the terrorists aren't that clever. That sounds like a pretty big headed statement to make, but when you look at the details of 9/11 then you realise that they were stretched to the limit to find, inside their entire organisation/network, 4 people capable of learning how to understand basic operations of a JJ.

It took al-Qaeda 5 years to simply put together the 911 plot, from inception to execution. It was one of the more (if not one of the most) complex plots they had undertaken, and out of that all they could scrape together were about half a dozen men capable of learning rudimentary aircraft controls. Hi-tech hackers breaking (presumably) encrypted communications to wrestle an aircraft from governmental control and then remotely control it themselves to fly into buildings? Most of the time terrorists are underestimated, but sometimes they are overrated - the great weight of support from these organisations comes from people who are poor, jobless, thick and angry. They managed to find 19 people to kill themselves for 9/11 - 15 of them were basically without a brain (think Lenny from OMAM but without the good intentions), and the other 4 were middle of the road college level educated people who were no einstein's.

If we've got autoland (3, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268524)

Why not autotakeoff as well, then we can just eliminate the human pilots altogether [marshallbrain.com] for nonmilitary aircraft?

Re:If we've got autoland (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268644)

then we can just eliminate the human pilots altogether for nonmilitary aircraft?
Liability is the reason there will always be a human pilot in the cockpit of non-military planes.

Liability is also the reason that the military's remote control UAV's have to have a human with their hand on the trigger.

Anyways:
1. I thought commercial auto-pilot systems already had the ability to be run from the ground.
2. How does Boeing "secretly" patent "The so-called 'uninterruptible autopilot system'"

Already exists...CAT III autopilot systems (2, Insightful)

kansas1051 (720008) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268726)

Autopilot systems that can take off and land large commercial aircraft already exist and are commonly used (they are called "CAT III" autopilots). If a pilot is feeling lazy, all he or she must do is program the flight computer and taxi the aircraft to the runway -- the aircraft will take off, fly, and land at the desired destination without any input from the pilot.

This new system seems to be a way of locking-in the autopilot function so terrorists cannot manually fly the plane after the pilot triggers an alarm. Seems like a good idea to me.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autopilot [wikipedia.org] as always.

Re:If we've got autoland (1)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268710)

Great so when something like this [slashdot.org] happens on a commercial airliner instead of a fighter jet and there is no pilot what do we do? Or when the landing gear gets stuck? Or when one of the many gauges stops working properly mid-flight? Automating many tasks is great, but seriously when my life is on the line I want to know there is someone with the knowledge to get me safely on the ground without the aid of a damn computer.

Re:If we've got autoland (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268720)

That is coming. Soon. What will happen is that aircrafts will be automated and flown via computer with exactly one pilot. It will happen within another 20 years, though most likely less than 10.

Meanwhile.... (1)

dremspider (562073) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268528)

Everyone as shot down as the enraged terrorist realizes what is going on and that he has no option but to kill himself or face serious charges. Might as well take out as many people while you can in the process. This is an interesting, if not extremely original idea but I think that a terrorist can still cause a lot of damage even with this.

Anti-hijacking technology isn't needed (5, Funny)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268538)

All they need is a case of baseball bats on the plane. "In case of a cabin seizure, a small bat will fall from the ceiling. Take the bat, and beat the shit out of the hijacker until he is unconscious"

Re:Anti-hijacking technology isn't needed (5, Funny)

brian.gunderson (1012885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268622)

or... Snakes???

Re:Anti-hijacking technology isn't needed (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268732)

till unconscious, hah. even without bats the next deranged whackjob to attempt hijack of a u.s. plane will probably be beaten to death pulped beyond identification by any visual means.

Not just US planes and already happened. (2, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269010)

even without bats the next deranged whackjob to attempt hijack of a u.s. plane will probably be beaten to death pulped beyond identification by any visual means.

Something like that happened just recently: Hijacker didn't speak French. Captain did the landing announcement and in the French version told the passengers and crew he was going to do a very hard landing and for the stews and any strong male passengers to rush the cockpit and subdue the hijacker.

He hit the brakes hard. The hijacker (who was standing) tumbled over. The stews and passengers broke in and jumped him. The stews poured boiling water over him while the passengers beat him until subdued.

The obvious? (1, Insightful)

Em Ellel (523581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268540)

Basically this turns planes into remote control missiles - and this is a GOOD THING????

I mean to do something like 9/11 you don't even have to be ON the plane???

It seems to make thing MORE dangerous, not less.

-Em

Manually activated by in flight crew. (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268914)

Didn't RTF summary, huh? It has to be activated on board the plane. Besides that, this is not a general purpose network we're talking about. It is s special purpose communications link that likely will be encrypted and spread spectrum. If the military can use wireless drones in combat without fear of the enemy taking over, why not here?

Re:Manually activated by in flight crew. (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269022)

Theoretically then, this could end up being a cost-saving measure for terrorists. Now, instead of sacrificing the people you've spent valuable time and money on teaching how to fly a plane, you can keep those people safely on the ground. You can then reserve the suicide missions for the low-skilled people, since their only job would then be to try and force their way into the cockpit to make the pilot activate this control.

In brief:

1.) Terrorist #1 either hacks into this network or takes over the facility these things are controlled from.
2.) Terrorist #2 (on the plane) causes a ruckus, causing the pilot to panic and activate this system.
3.) Terrorist #1 pilots plane into building, and escapes. Valuable highly-skilled resource is preserved rather than used as a suicide bomber.
4.) Low-skilled Terrorist #2 dies, but is easily replaced.

Re:The obvious? (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268938)

It only can happen after the pilot flips a switch.

Uh oh. (0, Redundant)

brian.gunderson (1012885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268544)

So now instead of hijacking one plane to destroy one target on the ground, they'll be trying to compromise this system to remotely hijack hundereds or thousands of planes from the comfort of their living room. That's a scary thought. Fortunately, I doubt many fellow slashdotters will argue that IT security pros are far more adept than TSA at preventing attacks on their respective 'networks'... This will be interesting.

Brilliant (1, Redundant)

Rhonwyn (49658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268546)

In order to prevent a repeat of 9/11, we are going to impliment a system, which makes it possible for a terrorist group to remotely hijack a plane, with the on board pilot being completely unable to resume control of the plane?

Wonderful. Hopefully it will be as hackproof as the RFID in a passport.

Not just terrorists (2, Interesting)

CdBee (742846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268760)

this is a vehicle for the US Govt (- and legal system, which sometimes is scarier yet) to harvest wanted people who may have committed no crime in their own countries and bring them to the USA involuntarily

Do you seriously think they wouldn't use it?

Re:Brilliant (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268798)

In order to prevent a repeat of 9/11, we are going to impliment a system, which makes it possible for a terrorist group to remotely hijack a plane, with the on board pilot being completely unable to resume control of the plane?
At least you can rest safe in the knowledge that, even if the pilot cannot regain control of the plane, he can at least sabotage the plane so it cannot be remotely controlled either.

That is, you can rest safe if you're not on the plane, or under its flight path. Otherwise your rest will be suddenly peaceful.

(Hopefully, in the face of a false positive, the remote control can reauthorize on-board control in case a pilot is in too much of a hurry to go to the head.)

Doesn't change much (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268554)

So instead of being physically on a plane, the new attack vector will be the remote control station.

Good Work.

Re:Changes a lot (1)

Bastian (66383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269046)

For one, I'd assume that there would be nothing simple about attacking the remote control station. Unlike airliners, where pretty much anyone can get on if they can afford a ticket, the remote control station would be heavily secured.

If this system is worth its salt, jamming or hijacking the remote control station's signal should also be extremely difficult. Boeing is a major military contractor, I'm sure they know how to do secure radio communications. I doubt many hijackers have access to the kind of equipment it would take to crack a secure transmission that's even close to military-grade.

Finally, they'd still have to get someone who's willing to go on the plane since the system needs to be triggered somehow. That would make timing really tricky - for the "break into the control station" scenario, you'd have to get your guy on the plane to smack the door and trigger the system and have your team who's broken into the control system in place in time to take over the plane, and then hold off the SWAT team or whoever long enough to do something with the plane.

I'm also assuming that they're smart enough to have plenty of fail-safes hardcoded in so that it's impossible to make the plane do a nose dive straight into the ground or something like that.

uh... (1)

tonywong (96839) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268562)

Wouldn't a creative technology terrorist comprimise and activate this system and force a jetliner to land on the Whitehouse? The pilots can't override it and no need to get any hijackers on board at the time of flight.

New terrorist attack method (4, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268602)

  1. Body-check door to activate auto-pilot function.
  2. Activate high-power jammer to prevent remote control of the aircraft. You're a lot closer to the receiver than any ground-based transmitters are, so the jammer's got a lot less work to do to drown out their signals.
  3. Wait for aircraft to run out of fuel.
  4. Buddies enjoy watching the world watch on in horror as hundreds of people wait for hours for certain death and nobody can do a single thing to prevent it.
  5. Buddies go on the air thanking the nice folks at Boeing and in the US Government for making this all possible.

Problem with your method (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268892)

The plane can land itself without remote involvement. Way to fail to understand the topic at hand! Military planes have been doing this for years. So can certain commercial airliners, already. (Thanks to kansas1051 [slashdot.org] )

Now on Alex Jones Show: Uninterruptible Autopilot (0, Troll)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268608)

Right _now_ these are the topics of the Alex Jones Show which you can listen to
on the web by going to http://www.infowars.com/ [infowars.com]

- Remote control / automated control of aircraft with uninterruptible autopilot via a panic switch
- explosive charges built into the doors of Boeing planes
- Pilot quits over built-in explosive charges in plane

The Alex Jones 3 hour show is on Monday-Friday and is repeated 24 hours daily 7 days
a week.

Captain Field McConnell

Alex welcomes back to the program Top Gun Military/Commercial
Pilot Field McConnell to discuss his 9/11 cover-up discoveries a
nd his new documentary, 9/11 Solved.

Related Information:

Pilot's Lawsuit Alleges Airliners Rigged With Explosives

what if... (4, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268626)

what concerns me is: 1) it could be accidentally triggered under certain conditions i.e. someone nudges the door like in a fall bracing against the door etc. 2) if an accident did happen, normal flight would incur excessive delays [acceptable or not?] 3) under what conditions would the system not detect a hijacking, ie can it be triggered from the ground in case of failure? 4) human error- suppose the system is bypassed by the pilot- ie it isnt switched on or the door is kept open etc. what then? how would these problems be addressed and how would it affect the normal operations in flight?

So... (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268636)

Why wouldn't hijackers just start going after the controllers, instead?

Well.. (1, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268640)

Ok. This thing uses autopilot to infer its location, and probably sight maps too.

What would prevent it from getting.. well, "fucked up", by using this [ladyada.net] on a wee higher power setting?

Lemmee see... USB changeable, dual bands, 30 ft radius (well, the whole inside the metal tube of the plane), and looks like cigarettes.

Or, how would one make an EMP pulse using a workable "laptop" with lithium batteries and capacitors? Im sure Boeing doesnt use Tempest on low earth flights (jets I'd imagine otherwise).

Thats right. I shouldnt be talking about this, as I "might" alert the terrorists. HINT: They already know, and can search the internet just like you. They also have a brain to devise stuff, just like us. I use the standard security "excuse": Its better to know a vulnerability and have the chance to shut down the service than it is to not know and take the proverbial beating for it.

Whate ever happened to... (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268648)

What ever happened to the idea of isolating the cockpit from the rest of the plane? I remember a few years ago reading that the cockpit would not be accessible from the cabin while in the air, regardless of the pilot's discretion. It might be inconvenient to the pilots and flight staff, but it seems like the most idiot proof way of insuring the safety of the aircraft.

existing autoland function, HA! (0)

swschrad (312009) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268654)

still in deep testing, a few units mounted in test planes by the manufacturers and a couple airlines, nobody is using it regularly. IIRC, there is a limited authority to use the tool from the FAA, but it is not type-accepted for regular passenger use at this time.

Honeywell, for one, has been hinking around with it for 12+ years, and because single-source doesn't cut it, Sundstrand also has licenses and has their own version.

Re:existing autoland function, HA! (5, Informative)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268786)

Buy a clue, please.

Autoland had been in use on commercial aircraft for over thirty years. It's routinely used for landing at places like Heathrow which are frequently foggy. It's so accurate that they had to introduce some dither into it because the runways were starting to deteriorate what with landing gear smacking into the exact same spot landing after landing.

Re:existing autoland function, HA! (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268890)

You're not thinking about an instrument landing here?

Launch them out of the hangar (1)

hooded_fang (964565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268656)

Wow since everyone is being so candid and original on their concepts of terrorism 2.0 how about we just cut to the chase. Say the terrorists buy a remote control and just start wheeling the planes out of the hangars before the pilots get to use them. Then they could just wheel them into oncoming traffic coming into the airport. Why stop at that. Why not paint up a commandeered plane as a bus and load it up with passengers. They're poor and noone cares about them so why not load them up. See you can argue for increased security and a new solution for longterm welfare recipients. Wow a solution for terror from abroad and the less fortunate members of society. Man being paranoid about a remote control system that has just merely been announced is about as logical as trying to hijack a train to drive into the white house. Yes its been used (ali g) but the logic is just the same. Did you ever think that the only result of the war on terror has been the reduction of your rights? I for one want them back.

Hackers (1, Troll)

omnilynx (961400) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268662)

1. Get a single flunky aboard the craft. No weapons needed. 2. Flunky makes a scene attacking the cockpit door. 3. Pilot hits panic button. 4. Terrorist ground unit intercepts signal, gains control of plane. 5. Profit???

How about... (4, Insightful)

ObiWanStevobi (1030352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268664)

How about locking the f***ing cabin door??!!! Doesn't cost anything, no one gets hijacked. Instead lets make a remote control terminal to fly the plane into a building. Only good old fat government defense contracts can bring us such stupidity. Heck, lets give the contract to Diebold and let the central control program be an Access VBA App on a Windows machine connected to the internet.

Re:How about... (2)

ObiWanStevobi (1030352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268694)

User: UBL has requested control of this flight control terminal, cancel or allow?

Re:How about... (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268996)

Ok I normally hate UAC jokes but that was hilarious.

I can't believe you don't get this!!! (2, Insightful)

BarnabyWilde (948425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269016)

With your idea:

"One passenger dies every minute until the door is unlocked".

Duh.

With the new system:

"One passenger dies every minute until the fancy auto-pilot is turned off".

Another duh.

Any questions, Einstein?

tough justification. (1)

lewscroo (695355) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268668)

I think id be a little scared of a completely automatic landing without human assistance. Does anyone know if auto-landing is even something that is done with any regularity today? And if it were that easy, that will certainly take a lot of the drama out of the multitude of movies where they have the video game addicts landing planes safely. And besides, most hijackings involve landing a plane safely and not crashing it, with the exception of one single event. So i'd say that it is a bit of overkill to be doing that anyway.

Re:tough justification. (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268978)

Does anyone know if auto-landing is even something that is done with any regularity today?

All the time. It's called a Class IIIc ILS (Instrument Landing System), and the airport (and plane!) has to be equipped for it. See wikipedia's entry [wikipedia.org] . It's more common in Europe, which tends towards more frequent fog at the airports.

Re:tough justification (yes, autoland does exist) (1)

justincheetah (744897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268988)

Nearly all widebody (two aisle) and many narrowbody (single aisle) aircraft with a seating capacity over ~120 seats flown by US domestic airlines are equipped with autoland (I can't speak for foreign carriers). It's generally not used other than occasional functional checks (once a month) or during exceptionally poor weather (visibility less than 800 feet). Use of autoland requires what is referred to as a Category II or Category III instrument landing system (ILS) approach, which is the ground based radio navigation aid associated with a particular runway. Cat II/III ILS systems are only found at large airports where the cost can be justified. The most capable systems are "Cat IIIc" which allow landing in zero visibility. Finding the gate after landing in such conditions ends up being more problematic than landing the aircraft. Category I approaches (visibility as low as 1800 feet) and some Cat II approaches are typically hand flown. Autoland systems are quite good and often one-up the flight crew with a nice touchdown (speaking from personal experience - it's hard to swallow the machine doing a better job!). Many autoland equipped aircraft also have autobrakes which will either slow or completely stop the aircraft on the runway.

Re:tough justification. (1)

Jonny do good (1002498) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269066)

While auto land is not done with regularity, it is possiblle and has gone through extensive testing. Supposedly it tends to give a smoother landing than a tranditional pilot most of the time. I personally think it isn't used becuase it is takes the pilots out of the loop essentially and pilots don't like that idea and lobby very hard against it. They do want something to do other than sit in the cockpit and flip a few switches until something major happens. Essentially pilots are really only a backup anyway since modern planes are able to take-off, navigate, and land all on their own. They are also the only current way for aircraft control to have any control over an airplane but that will probably change as technology progresses, although the security implications of using a computerized air trafic control system to automate aircraft patterns is also a major hurdle. If the planes could do it on their own and just rely on plane-to-plane communication backed up with radar data it could be relatively secure but there are still problems if a terrorist got into the system and could send signals say hey, I'm plane X and going at 250 knots heading 220, and at 10K feet when in reality there is no plane even there or the plane is actually at 8K feet or something.

did they consider consumer rejection? (1)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268672)

I'm a frequent flyer who would prefer not to fly in any plane thus equipped.

This type of system is a perennial topic on comp.risks [ncl.ac.uk] & is certainly not a panacea. It is not clear whether the system is any improvement, or whether it merely increases risk; and I don't trust Boeing to decide for us.

How much cash do we have to spend on 9/11 (2, Interesting)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268674)

How much cash and resources do we have to spend on 9/11 related expenditures before we realize that it's going overboard? It was a terrible day, the worst in my life and it didn't even affect me personally (i.e. I didn't know anyone who died.) But I think that the spending has gone overboard. I'm guessing that there will be serious safety issues related to this system anyhow.

Re:How much cash do we have to spend on 9/11 (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268780)

If it didn't affect you personally, how could it have been the worst day of your life?

Re:How much cash do we have to spend on 9/11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18269008)

Maybe it simply answers the question "which day of your life you wish didn't happen", which is pretty much the working definition of "worst day".

Re:How much cash do we have to spend on 9/11 (1)

fuo (941897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268838)

If this were tax dollars being spent by the govt. then I may agree, but this is a private company adding a feature to their product for profit, so i see no problem.

Skyhook (3, Insightful)

roach2002 (77772) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268684)

Skyhook [amazon.com] is a book centered around this concept. The interesting part was that they wouldn't actually deploy this system in commercial aircraft, they'd just have a press release to make people think they had.

(And no, that isn't a referrer link where I get money. I don't know why it has 'ref=')

"tamper-proof", huh? (5, Funny)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268706)

Oh, I'm sure this could never POSSIBLY go wrong.
The mind *boggles*.
But it'll make for some great disaster movies, where Bruce Willis has to hack his way through a bulkhead to cut the wires for the autopilot before Boeing Jon can fly the remote-hijacked plane to Norway where all the passengers would, um, well, have something awful happen involving blonde women and glaciers.

sounds like a really good idea (2, Funny)

eneville (745111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268736)

this is a seriously good idea. *but* wouldnt the terrorists just read the manufacturing plans like they glean the flying manuals and train in six months prior to the ambush? i mean, it's probably something that could be dismantled during flight. some seriously ingenious work would have to go into the making of the system to prevent this from being taken apart.

great to see we still have some fresh ideas appearing.

Tamper-proof? (1)

Luke Dawson (956412) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268778)

There is no such thing...

Very soon (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268790)

Very soon we'll hear a story of a hijacker smashing in the cockpit door of an airliner only to find an empty room with no controls, no instruments, no windows; just a Federal Agent sitting there with a big gun, some tape and a pair of handcuffs.

If this technology is available, why bother with pilots at all? I know, I know, human in the loop safety etc, etc. But if the fares were cheap enough, I'd risk it.

Not only for that but... (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268806)

This could be great in the event the pilot for whatever reason dies...and co-pilot....What it happens in the movies?

You would think that in the event the Pilot cannot fly the plane that someone down on the ground can. Not just for t3rr0rizm.

Hijacking in the US? (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268962)

Is hijacking seriously still a viable option for terrorists in the USA? I'd think that the standard assumption these days would be that a terrorist hijacking a plane probably intends to use it as a missile. Failing a passenger revolt against the hijackers, I'd think the US military would just shoot down the plane or otherwise force it to land. The assumption is that the passengers are dead anyways...

What a freakin' waste of time. (4, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18268964)

We don't need this. If anything genuinely good came out of 9/11, it's this: passengers will *NOT* sit idly by while a hijacker goes and tries to seize control of an aircraft, as they know that their lives would likely be forfeit anyways if they did. It was a very costly wake-up call, and although I would never go so far as to say it was worth it, I think it's safe bet that no hijacker will ever be able to take control of a passenger aircraft ever again... at least not over USA soil.

WWBS: What Would Bruce Say? (1)

jshackney (99735) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269048)

It's already well established that terrorists are willing to die for their cause. The rest of us infidels, we're not into the dying thing so much.

This system may prevent another 9/11-style attack, but that's about it. It's not likely to save any lives. The aircraft can still be extracted from the sky conventionally from within the cabin by a sufficiently motivated and prepared threat.

What I see here is that this system allows the terrorists to reduce the total number of operatives on the aircraft. This reduces their exposure and they can concentrate on higher value targets, such as the remote command/control systems. Or even devising their own system of control.

Auto(land/brakes/throttle) is/are fantastic systems, but they are not found in all aircraft. I expect there will be an amusing article about this in an upcoming Crypto-Gram.

Not good idea (1)

rupert0 (885882) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269056)

All the hijackers on the wait list are trilled with this..

Yes yes please remote control, me no have to crash airplane ! me no die !

Extremely Stupid (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269068)

Now the terrorists do not have to sacrifice their lifes. Or just need some jamming equipment in addition.

To illustrate the level of naivity: In security research people saying "tamper proof" are not taken serious by anybody. Even "tamper resistant" needs very strong mechanisms to be taken halfway serious.

USS Reliant anyone (1)

bommai (889284) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269076)

Kinda reminds me of Kirk/Spock attempting to take over USS reliant back from Khaaan.

Would 9/11 happen again? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269080)

As far as I know, this was the first time we'd seen a suicide hijack. Previous hijacks have had some fairly cooperative hijackers who want to escape from an oppresive regime. People presumably didn't try to stop the terrorists because they assumed the same thing would happen and thought there was a good chance that they would just be held in a plane for a few days before being freed.

If they tried it again, people would know that they were going to die. They'd have nothing to lose by trying to stop the terrorists. A high risk of death is better than certain death, and there would be a lot more civilians than terrorists. More than enough to overpower men armed with boxcutters.

SEPERATE CABINS (2, Interesting)

AngstAndGuitar (732149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269082)

Middle eastern airlines have had this for a long time, it's not too difficult to think of, unless you're plain stupid. Planes with NO PASSAGE BETWEEN FLIGHT DECK AND PASSENGERS. Is that hard? I guess it requires another exterior door, bathroom for pilots, food service for pilots (read "fridge"), etc. But ultimately, the simplest solution is probably the best. Why can't people even think of this? Well, I guess it's an easy retrofit that you couldn't charge an arm and a leg for.

The idea (1)

C4st13v4n14 (1001121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18269100)

I think it's a great idea, but their scenario of flying the plane to a secure military base? What makes them think that the terrorists won't just blow up the plane for non-compliance with their demands? What happens to the negotiations? Moreover, terrorists have one purpose and that is to instill terror in people. What makes them think that the terrorists won't just kill everyone on board and blow up the airplane, just for the sake of causing terror? I think the best it does it keep another 9.11 from happening.
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