David Pierce, the only original member left on SC-216: Aeronautical System Security, is set to retire in the near future. As he looks back on his time with RTCA, David says he is proud of the way SC-216 expanded its scope, the way the industry has risen to the exponentially difficult challenge of cybersecurity, and the ways RTCA and EUROCAE have worked together to push measures that have increased safety for the flying public.
David initially started as a member of SC-216 at its inception in 2007, eventually serving as Chair, rarely ever missing a meeting. When he joined the committee, David was the only employee of GE Aviation Systems tasked with cybersecurity. Back then, the industry was just beginning to sense how important cyber security was to the future of aviation, he said. At that time, everyone focused on cybersecurity and malware affecting individual aircraft. Now, David said, this concern has expanded to encompass the cybersecurity of airports, reservation systems, airline employee information and a whole host of vulnerabilities.
During his tenure, SC-216 published nine documents, and subsequent updates, as well as a white paper outlining a glossary of terms. He also has a hand in two more updates and two new documents*, which are expected to be completed by the end of next year, bringing the total number of completed documents to 13 by the end of 2024. While working on SC-216, David earned RTCA’s Special Recognition Award in 2023, EUROCAE’s “Global Harmonisation” Award in 2019, and RTCA Significant Contributor Awards in 2019, 2015, and 2012.
“During my time with RTCA, I’ve enjoyed learning the points of view of contributors, large and small, and hearing about parts of our airspace I previously, knew nothing about,” said David. “This has been very fulfilling for me meeting with these individuals and these companies. Performing the duties of a committee chair requires the ability to moderate discussion, to ensure that all voices are heard, helping others understand the major and subtle points of each commentary, and guiding the committee to consensus to publish a specific document. This also requires careful planning and management of the formal review cycles. The most important task, in my opinion, is to ensure everyone understands the concerns and comments of the other members, so that we all gain a greater understanding of the national airspace and its operation, which gives rise to better documents and ultimately the best guidance possible.”
While on SC-216, David rose through the ranks at GE Aviation, from his first roles in reliability and software engineering to time spent serving as senior and principal engineer to his current role as senior staff, product security, leading and contributing to information assurance activities for the Aviation Systems business. He has also led and participated on a variety of panels, has authored papers, and holds several patents with additional patents pending. David has also earned recognition from GE Aviation throughout his career.
With retirement from both RTCA and eventually GE Aviation on the horizon, RTCA would like to thank David for his participation on SC-216 and for his passionate commitment to safety. In retirement, David plans to continue participating in his favorite hobby, flying RC models, and spending time on the golf course.
*The revised documents include adding guidance on change impact analysis for information security (DO-326A) and cover performance requirements for event reporting (DO-392A). The two new documents will address Information Security management system and minimum standards for generation, storage, and delivery of data.