Re: [ISN] Glitch forces fix to cockpit doors

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Sun Oct 16 2005 - 21:02:28 PDT

Forwarded from: matthew patton <pattonme@private>

> The design demands were extraordinarily tricky. The doors had to be
> strong enough to withstand bullets, yet engineered to burst open to
> avoid a catastrophic twisting of the airframe in the event of a
> sudden loss of cabin pressure.

I'll show my ignorance of aircraft construction and ponder why a fixed
door is somehow going to contribute to airframe twist. How is the
cockpit door any different than a bulkhead? Albeit a leaky one? With
all the walls in the cockpit vicinity (food galley, bathroom) that
section of the plane should be quite heavily reinforced and
structurally sound in the first place. Or is the concern that the door
and/or door frame warpage arising from the pressure differential will
prevent them from opening the door and thus seal the pilots into the
cockpit? This is a problem, why? Couldn't they design the door with a
couple of pressure-cooker or air-compressor style over-pressure relief
plugs that blow out?

> In both cases, the cockpit door is secured by aluminum rods that
> slide into the lock or unlock positions when activated by an
> electronic signal. Rapid decompression would also unlock the door.

Says me the amateur terrorist, I have one of my buddies get one of
them car escape hammers and bust out a window in the back of the plane
and when the pilot declares an emergency and makes for 10,000 ft avail
myself of the now unlocked (and/or open) cockpit door. If I'm on a
suicide mission (what terrorist isn't) I probably don't much care if I
succeed at getting into the cockpit and taking control. 2 shots or a
flick of my wrist and my work is done.
> "I'd have to have equipment. I'd have to get it through security.
> I'd have to know the right channel," the chief engineer said.

How about I just get a job as a maint guy - you know for like Boeing
or whoever they subcontract out the door installation/testing/maint
to. Or bribe somebody who has access to the information.

> "I'd need to know quite a lot about where parts are installed on the
> airplane. I'd need to do a lot of things I couldn't actually do" on
> a commercial flight.

well duh. I'm not going to try to create an exploit while being
watched by a hundred passengers.

> Originally, airlines paid $29,000 for each of the Airbus wide-body
> door kits and between $40,000 and $100,000 for the Boeing wide-body
> kits, depending on the plane's model and configuration.

wouldn't it be cheaper to have a guy with a welding torch on standby
at both ends to just weld and unweld a plate of 1/2" steel? Or put the
pilot entrance hatch in the cargo hold and forget about having cockpit
doors at all? Pilots in the military get in and out thru a hatch in
the bottom...

> Both Boeing and Airbus used the same supplier, Adams Rite Aerospace
> of Fullerton, Calif., for their in-house door control.

So who's up for a smash and grab? All one would need is 1 unit,
defective or otherwise to reverse engineer at one's leisure. I wonder
if it uses a rolling code like a garage opener...

> Boeing already had provided a manual bolt lock as a backup. A pilot
> could use it in case of a perceived threat.

I'm flat-out amazed the PRIMARY let alone only means of activation
isn't manual. 3 or 4 hardened steel slides, like you see on bathroom
stalls (albeit beefier) should about do it.
> Airbus does not install a mechanical backup lock as standard.


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