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The next generation air transportation system security concept introduced flight monitoring as a part of risk management and shared situational awareness. Information on the aircraft performance, its flight trajectory, and the onboard situation with people and cargo are all part of the flight monitoring. This information is required to manage both an air traffic management (ATM) emergency and a security event. That information today is distributed among many operators in the system: air carriers, air traffic and air security and defense operators, and the aircraft. Sharing this information is currently dependent on manual interactions of various organizations that have data on a flight and usually occurs during the event. Avionics could provide a more meaningful picture through automatic updates or in response to interrogation. For better risk management and more complete situational awareness, the aircraft could share status that goes well beyond what is required for air traffic management alone. For example, automated emergency declarations could include the type of emergency such as "cabin depressurization." These indications may help explain erratic behavior by a flight and might quickly separate routine ATM events from security events. This is intended to initiate a dialogue within the community on the potential role of avionics to be used as a tool in aviation security.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2007