The Boeing 747-400, first introduced in 1988, gets critical software updates through 3.5-inch floppy disks.
He mentioned report Security researchers on the Pen Test Partners team recently gained access to a British Airways Boeing 747, after the airline decided to withdraw its fleet from service after a sharp drop in travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
The team was able to inspect the entire avionics compartment below the passenger deck, with data center-like racks of modular black boxes performing various functions for the aircraft.
The Pen Test Partners team discovered a 3.5-inch floppy drive in the cockpit, which is used to download important navigation databases, a database that must be updated every 28 days, and it visits the plane’s engineer every month to provide it with the latest updates.
And while it may seem surprising that 3.5-inch floppy disks are still in use on aircraft today, many Boeing 737s have also been using floppy disks to load avionics software for years.
The databases on these floppy disks are increasingly databases, according to To report Published in 2015 by Aviation Today magazine.
Some airlines are shying away from floppy disks, but others continue to use them as engineers visit the plane every month in order to download eight floppy disks with updates to airports, flight paths and runways.
And the 10-minute video tour of the Boeing 747 is an insight into parts of the plane you can never see, especially on a decades-old plane.
The tour comes as part of this year’s Virtual Def Con, the largest hacker conference in the United States.
And given that modern aircraft rely on more advanced technology, security researchers are increasingly interested in how to prevent passenger aircraft from interfering with flights.
Safety is especially important when it comes to in-flight entertainment systems, as a security researcher discovered an exploitation aboard a British Airways flight last year.
The researcher was able to use a USB mouse to insert long strings of text into the chat app on the fly, causing the entire on-board entertainment system to crash.
Security researchers are still looking for vulnerabilities that would allow them to communicate with flight systems from parts of aircraft that the public could access.
Modern aircraft, such as the Boeing 787, use fiber networks, where all avionics are connected to this network and controlled by a pair of computers running critical flight programs.
However, the software that powers modern aircraft is not always reliable, as Boeing has restarted production of its faltering 737 Max aircraft after software bugs led to two fatal accidents that killed a total of 346 passengers and crew members.
Despite the availability of modern technology, it did not prevent floppy disks from continuing in other industries.
The Pentagon ended the use of 8-inch floppy disks to coordinate the nation’s nuclear forces in October, while the International Space Station is filled with floppy disks.