Magazine article Security Management

Danger on the Runway

Magazine article Security Management

Danger on the Runway

Article excerpt

CORPORATE AIRCRAFT WERE rarely targeted in the sky-jacking era of the 1960s and 1970s, but more turbulent times lie ahead. Private aviation will be buffeted by rising worldwide crime and the desire of corporate executives to pursue market opportunities in less stable regions, such as the former Soviet Union. Security's mission is to chart a course that allows company profits to soar while keeping perpetrator's plots from getting off the ground.

The challenges are immense. Airports in the new Commonwealth of Independent States, for instance, lack trained controllers, mechanics, fuel, and spare parts. They are also so crime ridden that many chief pilots advise corporate aircraft to avoid staying overnight at these locations.

The problems related to the CIS are also found in many other parts of the world. In January 1993 alone the U.S. State Department issued approximately thirty travel advisory bulletins in Africa generally reflecting high crime rates, civil unrest, limited airport facilities, limited fuel supplies, less than desirable medical assistance, dangerous surface travel, and the lack of consular service.

The rise in criminal activities throughout the Third World increases the threat to corporate aviation. The theft of black boxes and other electronic instruments from the cockpits of corporate jets is still a good day's pay for many citizens in underdeveloped nations. Crime and corruption go hand in hand where the salary of customs or law enforcement officials is low and the temptation to engage in extortion is constant. The demand for protection money as a cost of doing business, and the complicity of local authorities has unfortunately become business as usual at some foreign airports.

Corporate aviation personnel must also be sensitive to the danger that their aircraft may be used as airborne "mules" for drug trafficking. Corporations are subject to the U.S. Customs' Zero Tolerance Policy whereby the company may lose its aircraft and a hard-earned reputation if illegal drugs are found on an aircraft returning from a foreign trip.

Unfortunately, the security manager has been forced into a reactive mode. Because of the pressure of meeting immediate problems, corporate security personnel often fail to engage in a strategic assessment and, therefore, fail to take appropriate actions before a threat becomes critical. It is this type of assessment that is needed in a rapidly changing and unstable international environment.

A corporation can take a number of intraorganizational measures to prevent this from occurring. The first step is a commitment from corporate leadership to provide funding for the recruitment and training of personnel who can effectively meet threats to corporate aviation security. The force should emphasize preventive, not reactive, policies. Cooperation must also exist between the head of the security department and the chief pilot.

Security personnel should draw on the expertise of the flight crew members who can identify potential security problems. All members of the corporation--crew members, the chief executive, and passengers--must develop an awareness of potential threats and learn to follow procedures that can prevent incidents. Security is everyone's responsibility.

The corporation must be knowledgeable about the threats in its operations and develop an independent security program capable of anticipating those threats. A variety of source material should be collected and analyzed to meet the corporation's unique aviation security requirements. …

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