Case Study: Securing & Sustaining Presidential Airlift

Subject: Presidential Helicopter

The Challenge:

Due to rapid advances in technology, the Presidential Helicopter program became burdened with legacy aircraft maintenance software that was unable to meet modern cyber and information technology requirements. In addition, the current system required completely different software development efforts for each supported aircraft type and much of the communication between systems required manual intervention.  The small fleet’s ability to safely and securely transport National Command leaders was being negatively impacted.

The Solution:

In concert with the client, the team modernized everything from software engineering processes and tools to technology stack. The new product architecture offers scalability and deployment options from cloud based to single offline systems as necessary to meet remote, detached, and changing environments, enabling a Condition-Based Maintenance program to increase fleet availability and reduce maintenance costs. When connectivity is present, the system automatically synchronizes information between the larger aviation logistic environment systems. A common code base utilizing open source components was created to support multiple aircraft while being developmental and operationally cost effective. A cloud based collaborative environment was utilized to capture all intellectual property, and an automated continuous integration and delivery pipeline was created to supply near real-time visibility and feedback mechanisms into the software development life cycle. Security fixes were researched and applied to address hundreds of cyber security findings in legacy code allowing reuse.

The Mission Impact:

Reduced Aircraft Maintenance Costs:

The system is more intelligent, integrating with machine learning initiatives, and utilizing data processing and display capabilities that were not previously available to predict aircraft issues before failure, preventing loss of life and reducing maintenance man hours. Software sustainment costs are significantly less, as 85% of the codebase is now shared between aircraft variants.

Enhanced Cyber Resilience:

By applying a cybersecurity-first systems engineering approach to software development, code vulnerabilities are significantly reduced resulting in a cyber ready, scalable, automated aviation maintenance environment for the Presidential airlift fleet.

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