Anti-skyjack pilot ID system glides through testing
A month-long pilot program to test a new anti-skyjack system was recently completed with near-perfect results, Haaretz learned yesterday. The Security Code System (SCS), also known as Code Positive, is a pilot identification system for civil aircraft flying in Israeli airspace.
In the latest test, the system identified over 90 percent of the participating planes.
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz is to convene a meeting early next month to discuss the ramifications of the pilot test, and to decide whether to install the system for domestic and foreign aircraft flying in Israeli air space.
Danny Shenar, head of security at the Transportation Ministry, reported two minor areas of failure in the tests. One was a technical issue involving communication between the aircraft and the ground. The second, which concerned the smart card itself, was corrected in the course of the testing.
About 500 flights by six airlines - El Al, Air Canada, Delta Airlines, British Airways, Air France and Ethiopian Airlines - participated in the test over the course of a month.
Developed by Israel's Elbit Systems, Code Positive consists of a smart card reader installed on every aircraft participating in the program, and a unique smart card that is assigned to each pilot. When the aircraft approaches Israeli airspace, the pilot must verify his or her identity using the card with a control center.
A new control center for this purpose was constructed at Beit Dagan, not far from Ben-Gurion International Airport.
The next phase of the program, which is expected to begin within two or three months, will include the gradual introduction of SCS into all aircraft operated by foreign airlines that fly to and from Israel.
"Israel is the first country in the world in finding practical solutions to terror threats of the kind posed by 9/11 in the United States," Mofaz said at the launch of the testing program. "The Code Positive system guarantees positive identification of the pilot in every situation. The new system will prevent a situation where flights are turned back to their airport of origin or directed to land in an alternative destination as a result of the absence of information leading to the barring of the aircraft's entry into Israeli airspace. The operation of the system will also reduce the need to scramble fighter aircraft to shoot down flights whose identification is in doubt," Mofaz said.
The cabinet recently approved NIS 400 million for the development of a laser-based antimissile defense system for passenger aircraft.
The system is intended for Israeli passenger planes that fly to dangerous areas. The first such system is to be installed in about two years. Another type of antimissile technology is currently in use.