Apple device and app compliance in aviation

Learn how Apple devices and mobile device management simplify work for employees in aviation.

June 6 2024 by

Sean Smith

Hannah Hamilton

Understanding a device fleet is necessary for organizations of all sizes and industries and includes different workflows, processes and requirements. The aviation industry is no different. Airlines use mobile devices — often in the form of iPhone or iPad — to drive growth, digitization and optimization. This means your Mobile Device Management (MDM) and security solutions need to be powerful and flexible enough to meet your specific needs. With modern IT infrastructure, airlines can increase operational efficiencies — helping passengers and employees alike.

What is an MDM? At a high-level, MDM helps companies perform IT tasks to manage devices and applications across their IT infrastructure. It ensures devices and apps are configured properly, are standardized across your organization, and are maintained with security patches and up-to-date software.

The aviation industry has a unique set of demands. Their MDM must:

  • Work for devices located thousands of miles apart that are constantly on the move
  • Meet governmental requirements for device security
  • Simplify work for technicians, pilots, flight attendants and other staff who need dependable mobile devices.

If technology isn’t easy to use, employees will be less productive which can impact operations at baggage, the gate or in the flight deck.

When deploying devices to users, organizations must make sure the device experience is at the forefront. Airlines choose Apple iPad and iPhone to empower their employees to do their best work. Apple provides versatile devices, so it is easy to include new workflows or applications for a variety of use cases. For example:

  • Ticketing agents use iPads for passenger check-in.
  • Gate agents use iPhones to scan passenger boarding passes.
  • Flight attendants using iPads to improve operational efficiency of the turn.
  • Around 80% of airlines use iOS devices as electronic flight bags with pre-flight checklists.

When employees can do their best work, passengers have excellent experiences. The operational workflows that can be implemented with iPhone and iPad, from the check-in gate to the cabin to the turn and beyond, makes the passenger experience frictionless.

In this blog, we’ll talk about how airlines can simplify device management and keep devices and apps compliant and secure.

Software and application updates

The latest version of your operating system (OS) and apps fixes potential vulnerabilities, adds features and optimizes performance. Keeping your software up to date is important for security, since the most up to date software is generally the most secure software. This is why the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires operating systems to be on the latest version and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recommends device updates approximately every six months.

This means your MDM software needs to be able to update apps that are:

  • Available in the App Store
  • Developed in-house by the airline, like apps containing mechanical diagrams for technicians or check-in software for gate agents
  • Third-party apps offered online

Part of a pilot’s pre-departure check list involves validating their device is on the correct OS version. This means the MDM must also be able to easily update the OS for devices that are used all over the world. Without IT on-site at every airport, OS updates must be done over-the-air and remotely. When devices are spread across the world, it is not easy for IT to get them back for troubleshooting or updating the OS. Software update plans must be simple to create, easy to deploy and visible to IT administrators.

Since mobile devices are moving across the globe, updating apps and devices must happen from a central location. Thankfully, Jamf can take care of this. Our MDM software:

  • Offers support for new Apple OS releases the day they come out
  • Makes it easy to remotely apply OS updates to groups of devices or the entire fleet
  • Provides detailed inventory information showing which devices and apps need updates
  • Automates application deployment, configuring, customization and updating for vulnerable or out-of-date apps
  • Allows IT to apply all updates, configurations and settings remotely

This means employees can work with minimal interruptions while IT admins keep devices and apps secure and at the latest version. To meet any union requirements, updates can be scheduled and enforced at an approved time.

Security and network access

By design, Apple creates the most secure mobile devices in the market. But threats happen outside of the device, like at the network level or with susceptible end users. For example, if an employee falls victim to phishing, attackers get access to your company network and accounts. To defend against this, you need security software and strict access policies.

As more work is done on mobile devices, they store a vast amount of work data, making them an attractive target for attackers. Organizations must make sure that:

  • Mobile devices meet security baselines
  • They have visibility into OS vulnerabilities
  • They monitor risky applications.

Jamf Protect keeps devices safe from a variety of threats, including those that haven’t been discovered by the cybersecurity community. It combines layers of security to protect users, endpoints and the network. That means malware, phishing and other attacks are blocked. Jamf Protect offers:

  • Compliance controls to keep devices in line with your security policies
  • Remediation workflows to prevent potential threats from compromising your data
  • Advanced on-device behavioral analysis for robust telemetry and reporting
  • Intelligent blocking of malicious websites

How your devices connect to your company resources — whether the devices is or is not on your organization’s network — can make all the difference in security. With Zero Trust Network Access, only verified users on devices that meet security requirements can access company resources. This means that employees can seamlessly access work resources around the globe that integrate with your existing network and applications. And for devices that do not meet those security requirements (from an out-of-date OS or a risky app, for example), access is denied.

End-user experience

Good management and security software enhance the end-user experience by:

  • Keeping employees, aircrafts and teams on time
  • Working behind the scenes without affecting device performance
  • Simplifying work for users by streamlining access to their work tools
  • Troubleshooting potential problems efficiently

Without a good experience, users find ways to bypass the policies and tools designed to keep their devices secure. Jamf makes work easier for:

  • IT admins with Zero-Touch Deployment and remote management to configure, setup and support devices and apps from a central location with network access
  • Pilots by keeping devices with electronic flight bags secure and up to date
  • Gate agents, flight attendants and technicians by ensuring the devices and software necessary to their roles are functional, updated and secure

Employees can use their company-owned devices outside of work without compromising company security. And if a devices gets lost or stolen, Jamf can make sure the device is locked and/or wiped so no data is lost.

Key takeaways

  • The FAA and other governing bodies have strict requirements for devices used by airlines.
  • Airlines choose Apple devices for their employees because they meet security and feature requirements.
  • Device management and security is necessary to keep airline operations running smoothly.
  • Jamf improves the user experience for airline employees, regardless of device location.

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