Unifly Successfully Completes Groundbreaking UTM Cybersecurity Model Project in Partnership with FAA and Industry Stakeholders

Unifly FAA KVUnifly Successfully Completes Groundbreaking UTM Cybersecurity Model Project in Partnership with FAA

Terra Drone Corporation‘s UTM Solutions provider Unifly, has announced the successful completion of the Unified UTM Cybersecurity Model project in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The project, awarded under the Broad Agency Announcement call 003, aimed to refine a UTM cybersecurity model, establish requirements and a certification scheme, and validate the model in an operational environment.

Andres Van Swalm, CEO at Unifly, said: “We are thrilled to have successfully led this R&D project in collaboration with FAA, Rhea, and FAA-designated UAS Test Site. As drone use continues to rise, it’s vital to develop specific cybersecurity measures for UTM to ensure airspace safety and security. We take pride in our key role in this initiative.”

The rapid growth of the drone industry has underscored the importance of ensuring the safety and security of airspace. UTM systems play a crucial role in this responsibility, given their software-based, highly automated, and recent nature, making them susceptible to cyber threats. The lack of a comprehensive approach to UTM cybersecurity, including system requirements and a unified certification scheme, has prompted the need for an updated security framework.

In the initial phase of the project, Unifly conducted interviews with key stakeholders in the UTM ecosystem, including FAA ATO, NASA, CNA, Nav Canada, and DroneUp. The concept of a unified UTM cybersecurity model was presented, garnering feedback and security requirements from stakeholders who acknowledged the necessity for a new security framework.

Jared Thompson from Nav Canada emphasized, “When considering traditional Air Traffic Management (ATM), it never had a model that focused on the operational aspect. Therefore, as we introduce additional layers like UTM, it’s imperative to establish a cybersecurity direction as a baseline.”

Joey Rios from NASA highlighted the need for “appropriate prerequisites for a UTM-specific cybersecurity framework” and a verification approach to ensure implementation, while Eldon Myers from DroneUp affirmed the demand for a framework addressing cybersecurity information and requirements.

The project team, incorporating stakeholder input, refined the system requirements and security controls for the updated prototype model. Demonstrations were conducted through over 60 flights at the NY Test site in Syracuse, incorporating various operational scenarios, including simulated attacks and countermeasures.

The extensive validation process confirmed the efficacy of the implemented security controls, with the results serving as a baseline for future cybersecurity framework development. Unifly remains committed to collaborations that enhance the safety of drones and airspace.

The successful collaboration among Unifly, FAA, Rhea, and NYUASTS highlights the importance of partnerships and innovation in the evolving UTM landscape. The findings and best practices from this project are expected to benefit the UTM industry, drone operators, regulators, and the general public by ensuring the safety and privacy of all airspace users.

Miriam McNabbMiriam McNabb

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.


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