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Israeli pilots criticize Israel’s hijack alert system

Nelson Alcantara  Dec 10, 2008

A hijack alert system being tested by Israel’s authorities does not have endorsement of Israel’s own Air Line Pilot Association, according to the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations (IFALPA).

IFALPA said the Security Code System (SCS) is based on a smart card that generates a code, depending the on pilot entry, and which is then transmitted by the pilot before entering the FIR. The code would then enable the authorities to identify the pilot and his situation, for instance whether he is under some kind of threat.

However in a letter to Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, according to IFALPA, the Israel Air Line Pilots Association has said that use of the system "has itself created a safety problem” and there are also security issues to be considered. According to the association one of the problems is that operators who are not qualified air traffic controllers are carrying out the identification process.

IFALPA added that another criticism is that “the identification process takes too long... disrupting the natural routine of activity in the pilots cabin, especially during preparations for landing.”

In a scenario where there is higher workload such as shortage of fuel or a system failure, among others, the additional burden of the SCS would “impair the crew’s functioning and be liable to divert its attention to activities that are not at the top of the priority list,” the pilots association contends.

Israeli pilots criticize Israel’s hijack alert system
Photograph by Nelson Alcantara

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