In-flight system might find terrorists on passenger planes

Years ago, a good friend of mine once worked for a company in Albuquerque, New Mexico that created computer programs to simulate flight patterns of airplanes so that they could be used in military training. The programs were to help people to tell the difference between friendly airplanes and foe airplanes. I think there was a neutral category as well. The company gave an open house once so I learned a bit about how the system was supposed to work. The details are a bit fuzzy. I don’t know if the efforts were successful, but there were months spent on the project.

Spring forward to 2008. These days, the technology for tracking threats is narrowing down to the inside of an airplane. According to this article in New Scientist Tech, the Security of Aircraft in the Future European Environment (SAFEE) project is one that combines surveillance cameras with “Big Brother” software in order to see all activities in an airplane. Is that person sitting next to you a friend or a foe? One aspect of the system is that each seat has a camera focused on it.

Things like: Just how long has that person been standing next to the cockpit door? What’s with the person lounging around between the galley and the bathroom? Are they looking to join the Mile High Club, or something else? That person in the left aisle seat of row J looks suspicious and is sweating buckets. Is that person just extremely hot or a terrorist?

The idea of SAFEE is that a surveillance camera system can alert personnel about a potential threat before the threat takes action. Because the system has the capability of seeing all parts of the aircraft’s inside, a terrorist can’t hide out behind a drink cart. (Except with peanuts not being served as cost saving, I’d say drinks will be the next to go. Then it will be, what cart?)

Critics of this system say that it will need to be tested on thousands of passengers before it is declared reliable.

I’m thinking that if the system doesn’t work after cameras are installed in planes, there is potential for a reality TV show. It doesn’t take more than belongings spilling out of an overhead bin and bonking people in the head for people to laugh from the comfort of their living room. Showing what happens in people’s seats with the right commentary to go along with the footage might be entertaining indeed.