FCC, DOT Announce Working Group on Aviation Communication Security

Photo by Freeimages.com/Alberto Grilo

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) have agreed to establish a Federal Interagency Working Group to more effectively collaborate and coordinate with other relevant agencies on issues that intersect their respective domains, including the safe and secure use of consumer communications onboard domestic commercial aviation.

The DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the FCC will co-chair the Working Group, with the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau coordinating efforts within the FCC. The Working Group’s primary mission will be to harmonize policy and regulatory activities regarding safe and secure communications and aviation while maintaining the independent policy-making responsibilities of each agency. In addition to FAA and FCC subject matter and regulatory experts, Federal Government representatives from law enforcement, intelligence, defense, national and homeland security agencies will participate in the Working Group to identify, analyze, discuss, and make recommendations regarding steps that are needed to ensure the continued safe and secure use of consumer communications technology onboard domestic commercial aircraft. The Working Group will also invite other relevant Federal Government entities to participate, as appropriate, and will keep these organizations informed of significant conclusions.

Members of industry, trade groups and associations, academia, outside subject matter experts, and representatives of state, local, tribal, and territorial governments may be invited by the Chairs to make presentations to the Working Group, but will not be members of the Working Group nor participate in policy discussions.

Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick has released a statement calling the formation of the working group "a significant milestone in the necessary efforts to address the changing risks associated with expanded use of broadband capabilities in commercial aviation."

"The Global Business Travel Association has been working closely with agency officials and Hill staff urging federal agencies to proactively assess the safety and security of enhanced cell phone usage and high speed broadband access on planes," McCormick said. "We advocated for the need for interagency efforts to guard against siloed activity in examining short- and long-term security threats."

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