Security Planning for Business Aviation Travel – Part 2: Vetting and Arranging for Security
This business aviation blog post continues from our article last week, entitled "Security Planning for Business Aviation Travel – Part 1: Pre-Planning."
There’s no standard for airport security within the international operating arena. Each airport differs in terms of security infrastructure and procedures. Airport security, including secure parking options, also varies by the type of operation – commercial or General Aviation (GA). In situations where you need to hire supplemental security, service levels and restrictions can vary greatly by destination.
Below we’ll cover some basics to help you understand and vet your security options. The information is provided by the airports and our own research:
1. Standard airport security
Security standards differ according to airport, type of airport (international/domestic or civilian/military), and country, as well as political situation. Airports are often extensions of a country’s government, which influences airport infrastructure and local security conditions. Each country has differing airport security standards, procedures, and policies, and security may not be uniform throughout one country. Individual airport authorities are typically responsible for implementing and maintaining airport security and airside access control. Airports in China, for example, are generally very secure, regardless of where you travel to. On the other hand, in other countries – such as Brazil – there can be much less consistency in terms of airport security standards. While major airports in Brazil are secure, additional airport security is often recommended for smaller and more remote airfields. The same applies to outlying airports in India, where security may be more relaxed compared to major centers such as Delhi (VIDP) or Mumbai (VABB).
2. Aircraft security
Depending on local airport regulations, you may or may not be able to arrange additional aircraft security. If aircraft security personnel are not permitted at certain locations, it is recommended that you check with your ground handler to see if a 24-hour presence on the GA ramp is offered, or your aircraft can be checked to ensure that it is secure in the evenings.
3. Arranging for additional aircraft security
Most airports have restrictions and rules regarding additional aircraft security personnel on their ramps. Some airports allow operators to arrange for additional aircraft security using airport police, while others may allow you to use contracted 3rd-party private security airside. Other airports do not permit any additional aircraft security personnel airside. Local regulations/guidelines often vary greatly. At the very least, certain minimum requirements will need to be met, such as appropriate badges, licensing, and identification. There may be particular licensing requirements for airside security personnel. Determining aircraft security options is best done with the assistance of your local ground handler, who will work with airport authorities. It’s important that security personnel ensure that no one accesses the aircraft – including the ground handler and crew members that have not been previously introduced – without specific permission. Determining what is and is not possible for additional aircraft security can often be a difficult and time-consuming process.
4. Secure parking considerations
If you’re staying overnight, you’ll need to understand parking security issues. If you’re parked in a hangar, there will be more control, in terms of security, than if you’re parked on the ramp. Parking on a fixed-base operator or general aviation terminal ramp is usually more secure than remote area parking. Determine if the airfield has adequate perimeter fencing, and consider the security situation on the GA ramp. Is the area well lit, will you be parking away from the perimeter fence, are there 24-hour security patrols, and does the airport have adequate video surveillance coverage?
5. Vetting security personnel
Be sure that any aircraft security personnel you contract have been properly vetted and have correct credentials, including appropriate licensing and permissions from the local airport authority. Ensure that your security provider follows Federal Corrupt Practices Act regulations and has up-to-date licensing. Security personnel should be in proper attire – uniforms in most cases – with identifying markings on clothing and licenses/badges carried at all times. They should be trained to ensure that no unauthorized person touches the aircraft, by any means necessary, under applicable local regulations/laws. Security personnel should maintain regular written log entries regarding ramp conditions and any issues that take place.
6. Day-of-operation considerations
It’s best to make arrangements for aircraft guards at least 24 hours in advance. Have security personnel on location before the aircraft arrival, and stay for a certain time after the aircraft departs, in case the aircraft needs to return due to mechanical issues. Also, be sure security personnel have emergency contact information for the on-duty airport manager and crew. Depending on where you’re operating to, you may or may not be able to obtain a photo/image of what the security personnel look like prior to your arrival, which is possible in Brazil. However, this may not be possible in other countries, as identifying security personnel in advance may make those personnel more vulnerable. For this reason, it’s always best to verify with your security provider if obtaining a photo/image of security personnel prior to arrival is a possibility.
7. Selecting security providers
You’ll need someone who can adequately vet security provider options at specified locations. Information on local security providers at your specified locations is usually not readily available, and in many cases it’s difficult for operators to vet security providers directly. Your ground handler may be able to assist in vetting local security providers, but there are also risks with this and with the information you obtain. Best practice is to use the services of major international GA security providers with reliable worldwide contacts.
Particularly when operating to higher-risk areas, or if your flight is considered high risk due to who’s onboard or the particular event you’re attending, it’s best to make security arrangements for each destination. Always allow yourself sufficient time to review airport, local area, and hotel security briefs. Keep aircraft security providers in the loop in terms of what you’re planning at each destination. Aircraft security personnel can be valuable resources and may be able to prevent incidents from occurring that could pose risks to your company, aircraft, and/or personnel.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance in planning security for your next trip, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.