Terrorist fears at heart of Europe’s UAV vision

The widespread growth of drone technology in future could see unmanned aircraft vulnerable to being hijacked and used as weapons against other airspace users or targets on the ground.

According to a new blueprint detailing Europe’s vision for remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), terrorists could even develop their own drones to crash into specific targets or jam or spoof the GPS signals of other RPAS causing serious hazards to air safety.

European authorities fear this could be achieved by any means like physical attacks such as destroying ground stations or targeting the remote pilot, electronic attacks such as jamming or spoofing data links or satellite navigation systems or even cyber-attacks through hacking the web, spoofing, and mounting cyber-attack on specific information networks.

“The consequences of such cyber-attacks could represent a major challenge for future large scale RPAS operations,” said the blueprint’s authors who report that the security issues have been carefully addressed in both the the regulatory and R&D activities defined by the roadmap.

The roadmap is the result of the European RPAS Steering Group, co-chaired by the Directorate General of Enterprise & DG Mobility & Transport at the European Commission. In addition to Europe’s SESAR JU air traffic modernisation research inititiative, the steering group consists of European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Eurocontrol, Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS), European Space Agency (ESA), European Defence Agency (EDA), EUROCAE, Association of European Research Establishments for Aeronautics (EREA), European Cockpit Association (ECA), Association of European Aerospace & Defence Manufacturers (ASD), UVS International.

The partners believe the roadmap identifies all the issues to be addressed and establishes a step-by-step approach to address them. The complete document includes three annexes covering the regulatory approach, a strategic research plan and a study on the societal impact.

By presenting a clear way forward towards the integration of RPAS, the roadmap is expected to facilitate the decisions to be taken by the different organisations involved, provide transparency and efficiency in the planning of different initiatives and support the coordination of  activities in Europe.

The roadmap notes that rules governing the development of RPAS must also be as light as necessary, in order to avoid an unnecessary burden on the emerging industry.

“Since not all key technologies required for RPA to fly in non-segregated airspace are today mature and standardized, all experts in the world agree that the insertion of RPA in airspace will be gradual and evolutionary: i.e. initially restricted access under specified conditions and subsequent alleviation of the restrictions as soon as technology, regulation and societal acceptance progress,” states the report authors.

Read More:
Germany probes terror-attack scheme using model airplane ‘drones’
Brussels mulls security police for ATM network

Posted in CAAs/ANSPs, News, Security, SESAR Tagged with: ,

Comments are closed.