Remote control jets (Yahoo news)
October 2, 2001 2:41 PM   Subscribe

Remote control jets (Yahoo news) Is this really a good idea? I've heard similar suggestions for our airways - but the article points out that centralizing air traffic has the potential to put entire fleets of jumbo jets in the hands of terrorists.
posted by SilentSalamander (12 comments total)
The first time I heard this mentioned, all I could think was - "Wow, now all the terrorists would have to do is take over the remote control station, rather than board the actual planes, and then they'd have possesion of thousands of guided missiles already in the air." Who knows how much damage could be done, or even simpler, just one guy with a remote-control spoofing device that can override a plane nearby. Sounds like a very very bad idea to me.
posted by kokogiak at 3:04 PM on October 2, 2001

MAX: Nice landing. What's, uh-- what's that you got there, a little flight plan or something? Hmm, pretty good. Do you know dirk calloway? I don't think so. Dirk, this is margaret yang. ...I, uh, heard about your science project on action 13. They said the navy wants to buy it from you. That's--

MARGARET: No, not anymore.

MAX: Why not?


(from the movie Rushmore, adapted for Metafilter by Kevspace)
posted by kevspace at 3:38 PM on October 2, 2001

Sounds like a very very bad idea to me.

Actually, it's a hell of a lot easier to completely secure one central facility than to secure hundreds of planes. Spoofing of remote control signals can be ruled out with modern encryption techniques.

I'm still not sure I care for the idea, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.
posted by kindall at 3:50 PM on October 2, 2001

I don't know; when I was on a plane that had barely touched down when it jerked back up into the air, with the captain saying there was an obstruction on the airstrip, it sure made me glad there was an attentive human being up front.
posted by transient at 3:55 PM on October 2, 2001

Kindall, I have to say that your assertion "Spoofing of remote control signals can be ruled out with modern encryption techniques" - while it may be true, does not put my mind at ease one bit. How long did it take for deCSS to show up in the wild? It just seems like there's too much opportunity for this to fail, either by hard cracking, or social engineering. It's a scary thing to have in existence.
posted by kokogiak at 4:03 PM on October 2, 2001

deCSS? what a joke. With Kindall's point, it is quite possible to use like a gig encryption security (way off in the future of course)....after all, its not exactly easy to break 128-bit of swordfish (OK, i'm think of that movie, but there is some nasty encryption w/ fish in the name) encrpytion the way it is. In the end, though, one COULD break the NO. bad idear
posted by jmd82 at 4:31 PM on October 2, 2001

As I said - I'm no encryption guru, but I've never heard anyone say there was such a thing as an unbreakable code, thus my fears about this.
posted by kokogiak at 4:33 PM on October 2, 2001

What about interference from electrical storms, solar flares, and all that stuff that we have to wear aluminum beanies for.

This sounds like a colossally bad idea.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 4:34 PM on October 2, 2001

I would not even feel safe in a remote control train, it is far to easy to jam any rf
posted by hmolwitz at 7:23 PM on October 2, 2001

It doesn't matter if the encryption can be broken, as long as it takes longer to do it than the longest a plane might be in the air. If it doesn't take long enough to break, you just add more bits to the key until it does.
posted by kindall at 7:55 PM on October 2, 2001

I don't think they're talking about doing away with pilots and having all planes fly by remote control. I think what they're looking for is a way, in the event of a hijacking, to take over control of the plane and land it safely by remote control. I don't think that's a bad idea... just because a flawless system hasn't been developed yet doesn't mean it isn't worth working on.
posted by spilon at 10:01 PM on October 2, 2001

Besides, what if they lose the remote control somewhere in the couch? Or they drop it and all the batteries spill out?
posted by billder at 10:45 PM on October 2, 2001

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