Security Tips for Higher Threat Locations – Part 1: Risk Mitigation
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on security tips for high threat locations.
There are security risks to consider at all international destinations but some locations have higher threat levels than others. While larger airports around the world are relatively secure off airport, risks can be significant in many regions. Before traveling to any location it’s important to consider all potential security threats as well as ways to mitigate these risks.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Security risks
Even when operating to seemingly safe areas — including Europe, the U.S. and Canada — there are security risks to consider in the trip planning process. While most major airports around the world have adequate security standards, nothing is full proof and there are always potential risks to consider. Several times over recent years aircraft have been broken into and/or vandalized in both the U.S. and Europe. This has caused significant operational delays as well as high costs in getting the aircraft back into service.
2. Risk awareness
The most significant security risks are generally off airport. It’s important to consider what you’ll be doing on the ground, where you’ll be staying and how you’ll travel locally. Road travel is one of the most risk prone activities when operating internationally. It’s important to understand all potential risks and to have contingency plans in place.
3. Aircraft guards
There are many airport locations where we recommend putting guards on general aviation (GA) aircraft. While there’s a cost in doing this, it can be an important investment in helping to ensure security and a successful mission.
4. To reposition or not
When operating to higher risk locations there’s often the question of repositioning the aircraft to a safer location or having the aircraft stay with the passengers. While many owners prefer to keep their aircraft close by, in less secure areas, factors to consider include the ability to arrange guards for your aircraft, distance to nearest suitable alternate, parking availability at the alternate and flight department standard operating procedures (SOPs). As there are pros and cons to repositioning the aircraft, this often comes down to what the flight department and owner is comfortable with. It’s best to ask questions early on in the planning process and to consider all options.
5. Secure transport
During the pre-planning phase it’s important to consider all potential risks for your particular destination and whether you’ll be traveling outside the city limits. Local road travel is especially risky in many areas and it’s recommended to consider secure local transport options, including security trained drivers and/or armored vehicles. Public taxis and transportation are not suggested for crew at many international locations. At minimum use prepaid transport (car with driver) or public taxis arranged by your ground handler or hotel. When traveling with an executive protection agent don’t have him/her also act as your driver. If this person drops you at a restaurant and goes away to park the vehicle you’re unprotected. For example, if you’re an executive attending a game at a crowded sports stadium ensure you’re able to source a ticket for the executive protection agent or you may find yourself alone in the crowded venue.
6. Low cost security enhancements
Enhancing security at a foreign destination does not have to be an expensive proposition. For example, carrying a door stop can help enhance hotel room security. If cost of executive protection is an apprehension, consider hiring a vetted local guide to travel with you and assist with language issues. For a low investment, perhaps $50/day in some locations, a local guide gives you some enhanced safety, risk reduction and additional peace of mind.
7. Hotel considerations
Location and security of hotel accommodations are always important considerations, particularly in higher threat areas. Common sense, however, goes a long way in reducing risk. Traveling an additional 30 miles to stay at a preferred brand hotel, or a favorite 5-star vs. 4-star property, could expose you to additional risks in terms of road travel.
8. Additional considerations
Parking your aircraft in a hangar, as opposed to leaving it exposed on the ramp, is a security advantage and may sidestep the expense of having to arrange an aircraft guard. Your preferred fixed-base operator (FBO) may not have hangarage available but other FBOs may be able to offer this option. Be aware that in certain locations your arrival details may be available to the public. For example, in Auckland Intl (NZAA) airport it’s required to identify all private and commercial flight arrivals — including details of aircraft make and model, where you’re arriving from along with the estimated time of arrival, as soon as your flight plan is filed. While these regulations cannot be avoided, it’s important to be mindful of this.
There are multiple items to consider for security purposes both on and off the airport. As each destination poses its own risks, it’s always recommended to research each destination and determine next steps – security wise – for aircraft, crew, and passengers. Security precaution options are always available for your operation.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers local threat scenarios for your destination.
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.