November 5, 2001
Pradeep Khosla, Director of the Center for Computer and Communications Security (C3S) and ECE Department Head, Philip and Marsha Dowd Professor of ECE and Robotics, cited some of the technologies that "could transform air transport security" in TheFeature's report, "Terror Proof: Making Air Travel Safe."
Mobile data systems can confirm that the pilot is behind the controls of a plane, said Khosla, explaining, "We now have some very effective, low cost biometric technologies that can be used to identify the air crew. Finger print, voice print, iris print, and facial recognition technologies that could be used to establish that only an authorized person can operate the controls."
Using a combination of verification methods and beaming the results back to the ground could reduce the chance for error. Electronic banking already uses finger print recognition, which has only a about one in one million failure rate. "They have to be secure for the financial services industry to consider using them," confirmed Khosla.
Cost and approval by the Federal Aviation Administration are factors in adopting these new methods, which also include heart rate scanners, which record signatures even more unique than fingerprints, said Khosla. "Such things are mostly used in the military for special forces or air craft personal," he says. "By capturing the heart rate data and transmitting it wirelessly back to base, you not only know that individual is alive but you also have some indication as to his or her general health."