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Three foreign airlines flying to Israel are to shortly begin using the pilot identification system known as Code Positive to prevent terror attacks using airplanes. The system allows ground systems to identify aircraft that have requested entry to its airspace by means of a secret code issued to pilots.

Some 2,000 pilots of Delta Airlines, Air Canada and Ethiopian Airlines are to be issued with the code immediately after the High Holidays. It recently ended a trial run on 500 flights, and successfully identified the planes in 90 percent of the cases.

On a visit to Washington last week, Transport Ministry Director General Gideon Siterman informed the Federal Aviation Authority's deputy director Dorothy Reimold and Kip Hawley, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration of the initiation of the system.

The cost of the system is estimated at about $25 million.

Six airlines participated in the trial phase: El Al, Air Canada, Delta Airlines, British Airways, Air France and Ethiopian Airlines.

The system, which was developed by the Israeli company Elbit Systems, is based on the requirement for the pilot to insert a secret code by means of a smart card before entering Israeli airspace. The code is then verified by a special ground system.

All international airlines will eventually be required to install the system.

At the time the trial stage began on the Code Positive system, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said: "Code Positive would prevent the need to return flights to their point of origin or have them land at an alternative site due to lack of identifying data. It will also reduce the need to scramble fighter jets to intercept flights where data is lacking."