Your business, home, cars, and airplanes all have security systems in place. But how secure are your plane and flight operations? That’s the question that was asked at a recent National Business Aviation Association Security Council session.
“We fly and we work now in a surrounding where there are plenty of security risks—to our people, our data, and our aircraft,” counseled Dallas lawyer Greg Reigel. “Security is a sport, and everybody has to be working together,” he said, noting that
“everyone” includes a company’s flight, data technology, human resources, and security departments.
The first step is developing a security plan and frequently updating it. “A plan that was good 2 years ago in all probability doesn’t incorporate everything it should,” Reigel said, noted the fast pace of change. “Today we’ve got advanced aircraft with internet connectivity, and also the aircraft is connected to the corporate.” that makes it not only a physical target, however a target for hackers seeking a backdoor into a business’s executive suite.
“The airplane is an extension of the office,” said corporate pilot Greg Kulis. Who is additionally a security auditor for the International Standard for Business Aviation Operations (IS-BAO). A decent security plan is “proportional to the threat against the operator, the personnel, the operation, and also the facilities.” while acknowledging that “one size plan doesn’t fit all,” he said that “each flight operation, regardless of the size, ought to have a security organizer who facilitates communications with company security and flight operations.”
Kulis said a good aviation security policy has administrative and operational elements. It includes personnel screening, security training, securing flight and personnel data, and maintaining a secure aircraft facility at home and safety on the road via access procedures, cameras, alarms, and alternative technology.
Among things often unnoticed in security planning, according to Kulis:
Food poisoning at 41,000 feet, particularly among the flight crew, will clearly have a serious impact on safety. “Food security doesn’t get enough attention,” Kulis said. “Where is the catering coming from and who is delivering it? How is it being stored? Is there a paper trail that follows the food from preparation to refrigeration to delivery?”
The common practice of passengers sending their baggage to the FBO prior to their arrival will produce a myriad of security problems. “I know of a case where a wrong bag was loaded onto an aircraft at an FBO and transported across the country,” said Kulis. “The aircraft was carrying the CEO of a large company, and the baggage wasn’t theirs. It was discovered within the cabin during the flight and nobody knew how it got aboard.”
Kulis said the corporate he flies for requires that if baggage has been out of a passenger’s control. The passenger should open them and confirm their contents at the FBO before their being loaded onto the plane. He conceded that the policy will slow departures and irritate some passengers but emphasized that it’s an integral part of the business’s security system.
Another policy that’s vital but not always popular with passengers requires them to store portable devices with lithium-ion batteries in fire-safe containment baggage.
Carrying extra fuel to a destination—enough to be ready to leave quickly in an emergency and fly at least one country over—can usually mean an extra stop en route but can provide crucial insurance. “If you can’t use the aircraft for evacuation if you can’t get fuel to it, it adds to your security issues,” Kulis said.
He illustrated the purpose by describing a flight he made to Athens, Greece in July 2016, throughout the attempted coup in Turkey. Commercial flights were rerouted to Athens throughout the unrest, tripling the traditional traffic there, and business jets couldn’t get fuel. “Fortunately, we had the reserves to go elsewhere,” Kulis said.
“Chances are if something dangerous happens to you on a trip, it’s going to happen throughout ground transportation, whether it be an auto accident or a criminal act,” Kulis noted. “When it involves criminal activity, your highest-risk section is from the FBO to the hotel. The explanation for this is your ground-transportation providers have a huge quantity of information. They know who you’re and where you are coming from. They understand that you just are coming off a U.S.-based aircraft, what hotel you’re going to, and how long you’ll be staying there. You know nearly nothing about them. And you’re turning over your environmental control to them entirely.”
Kulis said business jet passengers should use only vetted ground-transportation providers. Also, it should have on-the-ground safety plans that include prearranged meeting places, exchange of hotel-room numbers, and use of cell-phone tracking apps like Worldcue Mobile.