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The interior of a Boeing 737-900. Photo: Boeing
The interior of a Boeing 737-900. Photo: Boeing

The U.S Federal Aviation Administration is ordering Boeing to modify the technology aboard late-model 737 aircraft to prevent computer hackers from damaging the planes.

The order published Friday in the Federal Register is effective immediately, although the agency allowed a comment period until July 21. The special conditions are urgent because the FAA is trying to avoid slowing down design and delivery of new planes, according to the agency.

Doug Alder, a Boeing spokesman, said the special conditions will institutionalize actions that the manufacturer was already taken or planned, in line with similar protections for the 747-8, 777 and 787.

iHLS – Israel Homeland Security

According to USA Today the latest FAA order applies to 737-700, -700C, -800, -900ER, -7, -8 and -9 aircraft, one of the most popular types of planes for the last 20 years. The special conditions apply to these aircraft because their technology is connected more thoroughly than other planes with computer networks outside the aircraft, making the 737 more vulnerable, according to FAA.

The plane’s technology “may allow the exploitation of network security vulnerabilities resulting in intentional or unintentional destruction, disruption, degradation, or exploitation of data, systems and networks critical to the safety and maintenance of the airplane,” the FAA said.

The order from Jeffrey Duven, manager of FAA’s certification services, calls for Boeing to “ensure that the airplanes’ electronic systems are protected from access by unauthorized sources external to the plane, including those possibly caused by maintenance activity.”