Sunday, May 10, 2009

As FAA SNAFU Drags On, Here's the Full Transportation Department Report on Security Flaws in New ATC Systems

SNAFU is an acronym that often misused to express the idea that something unexpected has gone wrong, as in "We have a SNAFU in the operating room." Actually, SNAFU comes from cynical soldiers, at least as far back as World War II, and the acronym stands for "Situation Normal: All F----- Up." In other words, poorly run business as usual. Grunts more recently came up with a more precise word to describe a system that suddenly goes all wrong: "Cluster f---."

Anyway, both terms apply to the current situation involving the hapless Federal Aviation Administration and our antiquated national air-traffic control system, which has recently been shown to have been vulnerable to cyber-attacks as a gazillion-dollar planned revamp of the current system languishes years behind scheduled completion, the date for which is now 2025.

News accounts late last week cited a new report by the Inspector General's office of the Transportation Department which said, in part, that the air-traffic control system has been hacked into in recent years, and that planned changes as part of the revamp are likely to introduce further openings for even more sophisticated future cyber-attacks, partly because of the dependence on commercial software being built into the new systems, which have already devoured billions and are expected to cost another $40 billion before they are in place.

Here's a link to the full Inspector General's report.

By the way, because of haggling over politics and dough, the FAA -- responsible, remember, for the safety of our air-travel system -- has been operating without an official administrator since September 2007.


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