from the November 2007 issue

New Israeli aviation systems to curb missiles, hijacking

As of 2008, all airlines flying into Israel will be required to equip their pilots with Code positive, a system that allows ground controllers to determine whether planes have been commandeered by terrorists. The Israeli invention, which Israel's Transportation Ministry will distribute free of charge, consists of a personalized card with which the pilot relays a predetermined code upon approaching Tel Aviv.

Should hijackers kill or remove the cockpit crew in the manner of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, their non-transmission of the code will let Israel know something is amiss. If a pilot is forced by terrorists to activate Code Positive, he or she has the option of entering false data, which will serve as a discreet mayday message.

The Security Cabinet said in a statement that Code Positive "will significantly reduce the danger of unidentified or hijacked airplanes entering Israeli airspace in order to perpetrate terrorist attacks." When Code Positive was unveiled earlier this year, Danny Shenar, the Transportation Ministry's chief security officer, said, "You can't bluff this system." Israel 's air force is under instructions to force suspect planes to land at a location far from built-up areas.

In 1973, warplanes shot down a Libyan airliner that strayed into the Israeli-controlled Sinai by accident, suspecting it was on a mission to ram into a ground target. Scores of crew and passengers were killed in the tragedy, which prompted Israel to improve its own aviation counter-measures.

Now Israel relies on its intelligence services, and their foreign allies, to give advance notice on potential hijackings. Should the worst happen, fighter jets could be scrambled within minutes to implement a series of tactical counter-measures. "We buzz the suspect plane, and if that doesn't work, we can fire our cannons very close to its cockpit. The idea is to do everything possible to unnerve the hijackers," a senior air force officer said on condition of anonymity. "But as a last resort, we have shoot-down orders. There is no way we can allow another World Trade Center disaster to take place in Tel Aviv."

"This is a system that has been approved to be installed on civilian planes, and as far as I know there is no comparable system elsewhere in the world," said Nissim Hadas, who heads the company that produces Flight Guard.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report November 2007

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