Tuesday, May 7, 2013
No Ghosts In The Air…No Privacy, Either!
The Great ADS-B Scare of 2012
If, like me, you've taken advantage of websites like www.flightaware.com to track your friends (and had passengers track you), that may not seem like much of a concern, but some operators of business-class aircraft aren't thrilled by it. There are legitimate concerns about the implications of accurate, real-time locations of every aircraft, searchable by N-number available on a website.
|FOR MORE INFORMATION|
|Ghost Is In The Air (Traffic)
Presentation from Black Hat conference
|FAA ADS-B Safety Briefing
|National Airspace System Capital Investment Plan FY 2013–2017 (FAA)
In the "Ghost Is In The Air (Traffic)" presentation, this situation was exaggerated for effect: The presenters showed Air Force One being tracked. They went on to note that as a military aircraft, it might be able to use ADS-B modes that aren't available to the flying public. Sources in a position to know tell us that's quite correct—it's naive to assume that Air Force One will consistently report the same 24-bit address.
There are proposals to offer a similar capability to business aviation operators who have legitimate concerns about privacy: Instead of a single, hard-coded address that maps neatly to an N-number, an operator might be assigned a number of different addresses (if you're old enough to remember the movie Goldfinger, think of James Bond's Aston-Martin with the rotating license plates "valid in all countries.") But since ADS-B isn't just an American but rather an international standard, implementing such a proposal would require international negotiations. As one source told me, "Let's face it—if you fly in controlled airspace, you can't expect to do it anonymously."
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