Tips for Securing Your Aircraft on the Ground
This is a post by guest author Stephen Clark, marketing manager of Immaculate Flight, LLC. Stephen was asked to contribute to this blog because of his expertise in aircraft cleaning. Any thoughts expressed below are entirely Stephen’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.
Throughout my career in the aviation industry, I’ve been amazed at how trusting some are with leaving their aircraft unsecured when expecting service from an outside party. And while many will point to the convenience it brings in not having to orchestrate leaving behind a key, it goes without saying that maintaining access security for your aircraft should be at the top of your priority list.
1. Be aware of security issues for operators
Unfortunately, this lesson was painfully learned by one operator this last year near my home in the Pacific Northwest U.S. when someone posing as an outside vendor attempted to steal their Challenger aircraft right from the Fixed-Base Operator’s (FBO’s) ramp.
Entering just before the only FBO on the airfield opened, our would-be thief was found performing what appeared to be a simple maintenance check that – had it not been for some difficulties in getting the engines started (as well as his lack of identification or tools) – this Challenger could have easily ended up in the hands of this joy rider or, worse, crashed into one of the neighborhoods surrounding the airport.
When you have this lesson in mind, the good news is that there are a few things you can do right now to protect your aircraft while still providing convenient access to any outside party.
2. Utilize the FBO
One of the first things you can do to provide access to your aircraft for an outside party is to take advantage of the FBO’s help. Many FBOs are more than happy to hold your keys behind the front desk and also serve as literal gatekeepers, screening anyone who may request them.
To make the FBO’s job easier, be sure to keep your keys on a keychain that is clearly labeled with your aircraft’s tail number and contact information should any questions arise.
3. Know exactly who is coming
Now that your keys are safely in the hands of the FBO, don’t forget to let them know who you’re expecting to come and service your aircraft. And, while many outside parties will be familiar to the FBO, don’t be afraid to ask the vendor who EXACTLY will be servicing the aircraft, and report that name (and even that person’s badge number) to the FBO.
In fact why not write this information on an envelope and slip your keys inside of it? Not only will your keys be easier to find, but also your notes will be a welcome reminder to the busy front desk staff juggling multiple aircraft while still ensuring that only the right person gets your keys.
4. Use a seal system
This little trick is a charter and fractional favorite, but it’s one of the least expensive security “systems” you can use on your aircraft.
Available through various online retailers, these custom-designed numerically stamped stickers are meant to leave behind a “VOID” label when tampered with, thus making it easy to tell when someone has gained access to your aircraft. An excellent deterrent on their own, these stickers are even more effective if you maintain a log of the numbers and match them each time you access the aircraft.
Using our examples from above, you could place one of these stickers inside your key envelope with instructions for the service team to lock and seal your aircraft when the job is complete, thus providing you with peace of mind that no one has accessed your aircraft after the service team. And, if you’re afraid of losing your seals in a drawer, go out and buy a pencil pouch that can clip into your aircraft maintenance binder. Not only will you be able to keep your seals and logs together, but also they will be easy to reference when needed.
Last note about seals: If your operation finds itself traveling to international or unsecured airfields often, you can expand the use of this system by placing a sticker on every access panel on the exterior of your aircraft. Doing so will make your morning walk around and security check a breeze since it will be easy to identify any tampering by just looking at the seal.
In the end, securing your aircraft doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, with a bit of planning and communication, the next time you need service on the road or at home, you can spend more time relaxing and less time worrying about who has been onboard your aircraft.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.