E-WASTE: Safety and Sustainability in the Airline Industry



Ensure aviation data security and offset carbon emissions through responsible IT resource management.

Data Security: Aviation IT security is a top priority.

The global airline industry has continued to grow over recent years, which inherently brings an increase in data threats. A global airline CEO survey disclosed that 85 percent of airline CEO’s view airline cybersecurity as a significant risk, likely reflecting the highly sensitive nature of flight systems and passenger data. It can also take as long as six months to detect a data breach according to an IBM study, which tells us that data breaches are risky and not always easy to identify.

There are actionable steps you can take to prevent, detect, mitigate, and react to the cyber threat environment, some of which involve elements related to a strong airline IT asset disposition (ITAD) program.

The IT and electronic equipment in the aerospace industry is able to track and record everything. This recorded data can hold sensitive information and with so many connected devices, there is more data stored in more places. Therefore, hard drive data should be destroyed according to the applicable standards, which include:

  • NIST 800-88-R1 (United States)
  • HMG IA Standard No. 5 (United Kingdom)
  • DIN-66399 (Germany)

Removal of IT equipment, IT asset tracking, data wiping, and shredding are all services that can be performed on-site, removing risks of data exposure. Secure transportation is available to eliminate cargo theft. These are some data security considerations to manage when discarding IT equipment, aside from environmental factors; however, it is best to consult with an expert like Sims Lifecycle Services (SLS).

Environmental Responsibility: The airline industry is encouraging sustainability initiatives.

There is no denying, the environmental impact of the airline industry is huge. Aviation is responsible for 2 percent of all human-induced global CO2 emissions. More airlines are introducing carbon-offsetting initiatives to “neutralize” their carbon emissions by investing in carbon reduction projects. The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) set industry-wide targets, which include enforcing a cap on net carbon emissions from international aviation and pledging by 2050 to have net aviation carbon emissions on behalf of what they were in 2005.

Airlines themselves are jumping on board and doing what they can in regards to their CO2 emissions with Delta, KLM, JetBlue, British Airways, declaring actions to implement recycling programs as part of their carbon-offsetting efforts.

The responsible disposition of airline IT assets can be recognized as part of your efforts to offset carbon emission outputs. This is recognized through energy savings and the use of re-manufactured materials over raw materials.

Brand Protection through Destruction: Certified IT asset recycling, disposal and refining ensures data security and offsets carbon emissions.

Airlines today rely on cloud computing for almost everything including external-facing activities (i.e. booking and reservation systems) and internal programs (i.e. managing travel time estimates, emission controls, and traffic modeling). For example, when AeroData (a system used for logging weights and balances of planes) experienced an outage, it affected five major airlines with some unable to produce paperwork and causing several flights to be grounded.

Airlines have more at stake when designing and managing their IT infrastructure when compared to data center operators in other industries. Managing these IT and electronic assets securely and responsibly is critical to airline success and consequently, so is the disposal of it.

Other industry-specific equipment to consider for recycling includes proprietary technology such as field gear, radar systems, prototypes, military hardware, and computer and telecommunication equipment.

Unique to the defense and aerospace industries is the use of significant amounts of precious metals to meet stringent quality specs. Defense and aerospace contractors should look into specific ITAD services such as:

  • Destruction of sensitive and confidential hardware via shredding
  • Demanufacturing of surplus equipment
  • Certified recycling of obsolete and excess inventory
  • Reclaiming and refining precious metals from waste streams

It is beneficial to utilize the expertise that can identify and process these metals in everyday scrap. This will allow you to maximize the value of your equipment.


Author: SRS Media