The Air Force command that oversees logistics for global flights is working to digitize data to enable more modern maintenance tracking of its aircraft.
The Air Mobility Command will work with Xage, a cybersecurity company specializing in zero-trust architecture, through a contract awarded by the Air Force Research Lab. The work will focus on digitizing secure data sharing of repair information in “flightline operations,” the work done on aircraft to prepare for takeoff.
The work builds off an initial contract Xage won with the Space Force to secure data and communications coming from satellites using the same kind of zero-trust principles where no users, even known users, are given trust” to move freely around a network.
“The maintenance operations on the flightline traditionally have been pretty manual and pretty paper-based,” Xage CEO Duncan Greatwood told FedScoop in an interview. Xage will work to change that and ensure the new digital means of data sharing through its Xage Fabric product will be secure.
“Mission-critical aircraft require unparalleled cybersecurity to ensure the safety of pilots and mission success. By leveraging zero-trust principles, our Xage Fabric will guarantee the authenticity, confidentiality, and integrity of data across the flightline of the future,” Greatwood said.
Even when not paper-based, current digital practices for collecting flight data consist of downloading flight information on portable drives and then walking them into command centers. Many airmen working on the flightline have resorted to unapproved “shadow IT” where they use their personal cell phones to take videos and photos of maintenance issues.
The use of personal devices creates a security risk if images of sensitive military parts are stored on unsecured devices, Kip Gering, Xage’s senior director for business management, told FedScoop. That is part of the reason the Air Force is modernizing its processes: to give airmen capabilities similar to what they would have in their lives outside of uniform.
“The cockpits have a bunch of useful data…very often someone is going with a portable drive and sticking it into a port,” Greatwood said. “What’s at the heart of this is venture is to digitize the workflows”
Xage was also brought into “harden” other already-modernized methodologies in Air Mobility Command’s digital ecosystem. On top of adding new layers of security to the system, Xage will also bring a new “multi-party” view to the flight data.
“It’s real-time and comprehensive awareness of readiness,” Greatwood said of enabling multi-party data sharing.