Best Practices for Business Aviation Security

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Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, scheduled airlines resumed their operations within days while most general aviation operations were grounded for weeks, and in some cases months. The general aviation industry instituted a myriad of voluntary and regulatory changes to harden the community against threats from terrorism.

  • The Airport Watch Program encourages pilots at general aviation airports to report suspicious activity to a toll-free number staffed 24 hours a day by TSA operations staff.
  • The aircraft manufacturing and sales community has procedures to report suspicious financial transactions during the purchase or sale of an aircraft.
  • The flight-training industry complies with strict government standards that screen non-US citizens seeking flight training in the United States.
  • The FAA issues tamper-proof licenses for pilots, flight instructors, air traffic controllers and maintenance technicians.
  • The nation’s law enforcement agencies cross-check the FAA’s airman and aircraft registries against known terrorist and criminal databases.
  • Chartered business aircraft weighing over 12,500 pounds must comply with TSA mandated security procedures similar to those of the scheduled airlines.
  • TSA’s Aviation Security Advisory Committee, consisting of government and industry security experts, develops best practices and recommendations to strengthen security at general aviation airports.

The following was developed by the NBAA Security Council following September 11, 2001, as they worked to develop a method to document and present to the FAA the best practices for business aviation security. NBAA Members are urged to review these best practices to help ensure the best possible security for aircraft both at and away from home base.

People

  • Establish a Security Champion role (much like the Safety Champion's role)
  • Establish and maintain a communications link with the company security department or the equivalent
  • Flight department personnel to complete annual security training
  • Remain diligent to changes in emotional well-being and health of all crewmembers, ground personnel and passengers

Facilities

  • Ensure home facility perimeter security with effective fencing, lighting, security patrols (as appropriate), gates and limited access areas
  • Ensure street-side gates and doors are closed and locked at all times
  • Require positive access control for all external gates and doors
  • Close and lock hangar doors when that area is unattended
  • Secure all key storage areas (food and liquor, parts and tools, etc.)
  • Have an access control management system for keys and passes
  • Confirm the identity and authority of each passenger, vendor and visitor prior to allowing access to facilities and aircraft
  • Escort all visitors on the ramp and in the hangar area
  • Use a government issued photo ID to verify identity of any visitor or vendor
  • Post emergency numbers prominently around facility
  • Ensure easy access to phones or "panic buttons" in various facility locations (break room, hangar bay, etc.)
  • Confirm security of destination facilities
  • Be aware of your surroundings and do not be complacent—challenge strangers

Aircraft

  • A flight crewmember must be present at all times when the aircraft is being serviced (fueling, catering, etc.)
  • Check lavatories, baggage compartments and all cavities for unauthorized people or objects prior to every departure
  • Use the aircraft's security system (locks and alarms) whenever it is unattended to prevent unauthorized entry

Procedures

  • Require that aviation department members participate in security training
  • Maintain a security information program
  • Require an accurate and accessible passenger manifest for all trip legs
  • Only company personnel and authorized guests, identified in advance, are allowed to board a company aircraft
  • Passengers or flight department members must maintain positive control of luggage
  • Positively identify all luggage and match luggage to specific passengers (color-coded bag tags can be helpful)
  • Crewmembers must display photo IDs
  • Have a security plan specific to your location and operation
  • Develop, maintain and exercise an Emergency Response Plan and its associated resources