A German pilot and Internet consultant claims to have the ability to ‘hijack’ a commercial plane with a smartphone application that he designed.
Hugh Teso, who works as an Internet security consultant, says he has learned to exploit vulnerabilities in airplanes data system controls using an Android app that he designed, flight management software he purchased on eBay, and a radio transmitter.
He calls the program “PlaneSploit” and claimed to have successfully used it in intercepting an airplane’s flight management control systems, albeit safely on a flight simulator. He did stress that it can only work when the plane is in autopilot mode.
Speaking before the ‘Hack in the Box’ conference that was held in The Netherlands, Teso said he developed the app for the Android operating system and for the sole purpose of seeing if he could exploit the controls on a plane. During the conference he said that the app allows him to take over everything on a plane from its navigational system controls to its environmental controls such as heating and air.
The app is designed to look like a smaller version of an animated airplane cockpit with all the similar buttons and controls. He says that it has the ability to do anything a pilot could do manually, even to the point of crashing the plane.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) negates Teso’s claim that he can ‘hijack’ an airplane’s controls. The FAA went as far to say it was literally impossible for his program to do what he is boasting. They also said that it could not stop any given pilot from disengaging autopilot and, "Therefore, a hacker cannot obtain 'full control of an aircraft' as the technology consultant has claimed."