Keeping secure from both external and internal threats remains a leading concern for business aircraft operators, and those concerns have been amplified in the COVID-19 environment. As companies and their employees cope with added stresses to their finances, home lives and the sad reality of furloughs and layoffs, operators must be prepared to mitigate these risks.
Eric Moilanen, founder of Premier Corporate Security and chair of the NBAA Security Council, warned against complacency. “Most flight departments are relatively small and tend to have lower security risks than, say, an FBO,” he said. “That does not mean these operations aren’t vulnerable to threats, however.”
The aviation director for a Fortune 200 company shared that sentiment. Although he stated his operation hasn’t experienced a major security incident in some time or seen any increases in such issues with COVID-19, it doesn’t mean the company has dropped its guard against both external and internal threats.
“We have the standard alarms in our hangar, as well as cameras accessible from our company’s central security office, and randomized security patrols,” said the aviation director. “I think the most important factor is access control: the majority of our facilities cannot be accessed without badge authorization, which, of course, is voided for anyone who leaves the company.”
One unique aspect of business aviation operations is that some employees, such as aircraft maintenance technicians and pilots, may often be at the facility around the clock.
“We almost always have at least two individuals in the building, which is both a security measure, as well as a safety precaution,” noted the aviation director. “We also require people working outside normal business hours to check in frequently by phone.”
“Most flight departments are relatively small and tend to have lower security risks than, say, an FBO. That does not mean these operations aren't vulnerable to threats, however.”
Eric Moilanen Founder, Premier Corporate Security
Another useful tool for companies whose personnel work outside normal hours and with minimal supervision is a “man down” alarm, which can monitor employees’ movements and automatically alert medical personnel if a fall or impact is detected.
While dedicated security systems and procedures are important, Moilanen emphasized the need to understand the causes of heightened risks in the current environment in order to take steps to mitigate them.
“We’re used to seeing and interacting with our coworkers, but now that’s gone and it’s more difficult to notice behavioral changes in ourselves and others,” said Moilanen. “Many of us are under added financial stress, and being at home also changes our family dynamics, which, again, may create additional stressors. This crisis really checks all the boxes.”
To reduce the risk of internal security threats, Moilanen recommended that companies make a concerted effort to engage with employees working remotely during this crisis.
“Conversations that usually occur around the water cooler aren’t happening, and that extends to management as well,” he said. “Let your people know what’s happening, what impact there is and what the forecast is for the future.
“Provide them with a general sense of the company’s financial state,” Moilanen concluded. “Even bad news gives people a better sense of where they stand, and that reduces the risk of their acting out.”