Domestic Fliers Will Need Real ID Compliant Identification in 2023
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has recently announced a pilot program to implement the real-time barcode on aircraft, and while it provides a new way to verify that the correct aircraft registration and identity and flight plan are entered into the FAA database, it introduces a new challenge:
To verify that the aircraft’s identity and registration are correct on the barcode is not always possible, because it typically requires a human to access the database to confirm.
Additionally, many modern day aircraft have on board systems to track their position more or less automatically. If these systems fail, the pilots would have to perform an in-flight check, which can take much more time than it does for an individual to fly the plane.
This is why it makes sense for DOT to create an identity authentication system, like an electronic travel document (aka e-Ticket) or biometric identification, for real-time barcode-based air travel. It will not be possible to carry such documentation in an aircraft, but for some it may be acceptable for their identification to be carried either in one’s pocket or in a smartphone, as some airlines now offer.
But not all airlines will be ready to accept such a solution, because it violates one of the core principles of aviation, which is that pilots are the professionals who fly the aircraft and cannot be delegated the task of verifying the aircraft identity and registration on the ground.
Moreover, because identity and identification in aviation (like many other industries) is highly sensitive, it is not the airlines’ responsibility to implement the solution, but the DOT’s. Therefore, it will be up to the FAA to determine if the agency will be able to accept the solution as an alternative to real-time identification.
However, this does not mean that such a system will be difficult or expensive, as the cost of such an implementation would be minimal. The FAA estimates that this technology could cost around $10 million dollars and that it would take only a few weeks to implement a pilot program for the benefit of 10,000 commercial transatlantic flights per season