Israeli Security Program Has Pilots' Nerves on Edge

by  Dana Harris | Jul 29, 2010
Plane / Biletskiy_Evgeniy/iStock

As savvy flyers, we’re all for safety precautions, and understand that the need for increased security measures may cause a few inconveniences – you heard very little whining this way when it was deemed necessary to go parched (liquids ban) and barefoot (shoe-bomb scare) through security. But when new security programs increase pilot anxiety and potential flight risks, we’re less supportive. For over a year now, the Israeli Ministry of Transport has been implementing a trial security program, Code Positive, which requires incoming pilots to submit a personal PIN in order to enter Israeli airspace. If the identity of the pilots and planes cannot be confirmed, as was the case last week when the pilots of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 flight headed to Tel Aviv did not correctly submit their PINs (the second such incident since the program's onset), planes will be perceived as security threats, subsequently prohibited from landing, and even intercepted by fighter jets.

We understand Israel’s need for increased security, but we feel for those passengers who, because of the new security measures wind up stuck in the sky, confused, and most likely terrified, wondering why they’re in the presence of Israeli fighter jets. But we’re not only worried about these passenger’s nerves – we’re worried about their safety. Pilots are arguing that having to submit their PINs upon entering Israeli airspace is causing flight safety concerns as it increases the cockpit workload and there are no formalized procedures for remedying pilot submission errors.

Along with international airline pilots, we are hoping that Israel does not permanently enact this new program  – we don’t want to be writing a “Plane Shot Down in Israel Because of Security Program Confusion” article any time soon.

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