Honeywell Develops Secure Aircraft Communication System

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The Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) has been around for some time, becoming almost ubiquitous in airline cockpits and aboard high-end business jets, especially those with intercontinental range. But, "Currently, individuals with inexpensive radio scanners and freeware available through the Internet are able to monitor unsecure ACARS message transmissions," said Frank Daly, president of Honeywell Commercial Electronic Systems. Honeywell, recognizing there's a market for a more secure ACARS, recently conducted successful tests of just that system. The company's solution uses a communications management unit with built-in industry-standard cryptography to secure datalink messages sent to and from aircraft via ACARS. Honeywell's Global Data Center in Redmond, Wash., processed the secure messages on the ground. Honeywell plans to make the Secure ACARS system available for commercial air transport operators, regional airlines, business aircraft operators, and the U.S. military. The first systems will be configured for air transport and regional operators and will be available during 2006.