Flight Safety Project Awarded With a Special Prize by the German Aerospace Center

34 ESNC DLR Special prize Winner Rolf Dieter Fischer 2017A Ph.D. student at Vilnius University Faculty of Physics, Jurgis Aleksandravičius, together with Dr Saulius Rudys won the DLR Special Prize at the European Satellite Navigation Competition.

The annual international competition, that is often dubbed “the Space Oscars”, awards the most innovative applications of satellite navigation. “German Aerospace Center (DLR) has established a special prize in the ESNC competition for projects that deal with aviation. And from about forty competitors all around Europe, our project was declared the winner”, J. Aleksandravičius said.

The winning project deals with the safety of aviation systems. TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems) and ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast) systems are key components of flight safety.  Designed for air traffic control and the prevention of aircraft collisions, these systems are susceptible to hacking. Spoofing and jamming ADS-B signals requires relatively little effort and no expensive equipment at all.

“To address ADS-B security issues, we proposed a solution for authenticating received signals using the directional antenna systems of an aircraft. In addition to improved security, the verification hardware and additional sensors involved make it possible to maintain ADS-B functionality without any space or ground infrastructure. We introduced a prototype of our product at the competition and are now preparing a more detailed scientific study as well as working to improve our product further”, said J. Aleksandravičius.

Using their system provides many benefits to the ADS–B system: resistance to spoofing, jamming, potential to detect more planes and functionality in worse case scenarios. All these improvements would mean higher flight safety and an upgrade in air traffic control.