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Air Transport Security

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Series Editors: Joseph S. Szyliowicz, University of Denver, USA and
Luca Zamparini, University of Salento, Italy
Focus on security has dramatically sharpened at all levels of government
following the terrorist attacks experienced in several regions of the world in the
last decade. Improvement in transport security now represents one of the key
topics on the agendas of counter terrorist agencies worldwide. The Comparative
Perspectives on Transportation Security series provides a much-needed platform
for international and comparative analysis of transport security policies and
practices. Looking at different modes of transport in turn, each book in the series
offers a comprehensive and multidisciplinary analysis of security issues for a
particular transport mode, incorporating case studies of several key countries.
  Titles in the series include:
Maritime Transport Security
Issues, Challenges and National Policies
Edited by Khalid Bichou, Joseph S. Szyliowicz and Luca Zamparini
Multimodal Transport Security
Frameworks and Policy Applications in Freight and Passenger Transport
Edited by Joseph S. Szyliowicz, Luca Zamparini, Genserik L.L. Reniers and
Dawna L. Rhoades
Air Transport Security
Issues, Challenges and National Policies
Edited by Joseph S. Szyliowicz and Luca Zamparini

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Air Transport Security
Issues, Challenges and National Policies

Edited by
Joseph S. Szyliowicz
University of Denver, USA

Luca Zamparini
University of Salento, Italy



Cheltenham, UK • Northampton, MA, USA

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© Joseph S. Szyliowicz and Luca Zamparini 2018

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored

in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical or photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior
permission of the publisher.

Published by
Edward Elgar Publishing Limited
The Lypiatts
15 Lansdown Road
Glos GL50 2JA

Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc.

William Pratt House
9 Dewey Court
Massachusetts 01060

A catalogue record for this book

is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Control Number: 2018935756

This book is available electronically in the

Social and Political Science subject collection
DOI 10.4337/9781786435200

ISBN 978 1 78643 519 4 (cased)

ISBN 978 1 78643 520 0 (eBook)

Typeset by Servis Filmsetting Ltd, Stockport, Cheshire


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List of figuresvii
List of tablesviii
List of contributorsix

 1 Introduction1
Joseph S. Szyliowicz and Luca Zamparini


 2 The policy dimensions of air transport security 15

Joseph S. Szyliowicz
 3 Economic issues in air transport security 32
Luca Zamparini
 4 International and EU legal frameworks of aviation security 43
Francesco Rossi Dal Pozzo
 5 The role of the private sector for air transport security 63
Jeffrey Price
  6 The challenge of air cargo security 85
Douglas Brittin


 7 Aviation security in the USA 105

Joseph S. Szyliowicz
 8 Aviation security policy in Canada 123
Kamaal Zaidi
 9 Safety and security in Brazilian aviation 144
Dawna Rhoades and Michael J. Williams163
10 Air transport security in Israel 163
Hillel Avihai

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vi Air transport security

11 Air transport security in Kenya 180

Evaristus Irandu
12 Air transport security in Malaysia 199
Priyanka Puri, Manjit Singh Sandhu and Santha Vaithilingam
13 Air transport security in Japan 231
Toki Udagawa Hirakawa
14 Aviation security in Australia 245
Tim Prenzler
15  Conclusions263
Joseph S. Szyliowicz and Luca Zamparini


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  3.1 Private and public equilibrium levels of security 34
  3.2 Optimal level of security 37
  8.1 Canada’s multilayered security matrix 130
12.1 Commercial aviation deaths per year, worldwide 204
12.2 Annual worldwide commercial airline departures 205
12.3 Passenger movement in all Malaysian airports (2010–2014) 206
12.4 Global aeronautical distress and safety system formulated
by ICAO 212
13.1 Aviation security management of Japan 241


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  8.1 Aviation security policies and laws in Canada 138
  9.1 Geography and population (2016, EST) 146
  9.2 Brazilian air carriers: operational and financial data 148
  9.3 Passenger numbers (000s) at the largest Brazilian airports
  9.4 Sample technical competence standards (patterns) and
associated maintenance classes 153
10.1 Human element vs. technological element: a comparison
11.1 Chronology of terrorist threats or incidents on air cargo
11.2 Roles of stakeholders in air cargo security 188
12.1 Malaysian aircraft accidents in the last 40 years 201
12.2 MAS key performance indicators (KPIs) 202
12.3 Details of initial response of missing aircrafts 209
12.4 Summary of ASD sub-divisions in Malaysia 214
12.5 Malaysian legislation related to air transport security 215
12A.1 Summary of air travel tragedies (2014–2015) 230


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Hillel Avihai, Skyjack-Aviation Terrorism Research, research fellow at the
Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT), Israel
Douglas Brittin, The International Air Cargo Association, USA
Evaristus Irandu, University of Nairobi, Kenya
Tim Prenzler, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
Jeffrey Price, Metropolitan State University of Denver, USA
Priyanka Puri, Thrive, Malaysia
Dawna Rhoades, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, USA
Francesco Rossi Dal Pozzo, University of Milan, Italy
Manjit Singh Sandhu, Monash University, Malaysia
Joseph S. Szyliowicz, University of Denver, USA
Toki Udagawa Hirakawa, Toki’s Security Lab, Japan
Santha Vaithilingam, Monash University, Malaysia
Michael J. Williams, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, USA
Kamaal Zaidi, University of Calgary, Canada
Luca Zamparini, University of Salento, Italy


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1.  Introduction
Joseph S. Szyliowicz and Luca Zamparini

Although terrorist attacks on aviation are not a new phenomenon – the

earliest hijacking occurred in 1931, the first bombing two years later – they
pose a greater threat to this vital transportation mode than ever before. In
2016 alone, two planes were hijacked, one was bombed, and four airports,
a popular new target, were attacked. Aviation is today a favored target of
terrorists because of its vulnerabilities and the human, psychological and
economic toll that a successful attack achieves.
Ironically, one of the reasons that aviation represents such an attractive
target is the degree to which it has emerged as an enormous global activity.
Every day millions of people across the globe arrive at an airport to take
a commercial flight, many others fly their own planes or climb abroad a
private jet. And, those passenger jets carry tons of cargo, while air freight
carriers transport millions more.
Each of three basic dimensions, passenger, air cargo, and general avia-
tion, has grown dramatically. In 1975, the world’s airlines carried about 9.5
million persons, by 2015 that number had more than tripled to almost 33
million. Air cargo has grown even more, from 15.570 million ton kilom-
eters in 1975 to almost 190 million in 2015. According to the World Bank,
the industry provides over 60 million jobs and generates over $25 trillion.
Clearly, aviation plays an ever increasing role in connecting people across
the world and in the functioning of the global economy as well as in the
economies of individual states. Disrupting air transport thus affects not
only the country whose airport or airline is attacked but produces ripple
effects that impact many other countries as well.
The very size and complexity of aviation greatly complicate efforts to
protect it from a terrorist attack for each of these dimensions and poses
unique security challenges. Securing airports involves dealing with large
numbers of people, not only the enormous numbers of passengers who
pass through but the large number of employees, any one of whom may
turn out to be, as has been the case, a terrorist. Terrorists are fully aware of
these vulnerabilities and have moved, tragically with success on too many
occasions, to exploit them.

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2 Air transport security

Though aviation had been subject to numerous hijacking and bomb-

ings for decades, a turning point came in 1968. Until then, attacks had
been carried out for individual motives and consisted of two types. The
first involved hijackings by individuals seeking to escape to a better life,
whether from behind the iron curtain or from Cuba. The second consisted
of attacks that were carried out by individuals with personal motives such
as robbery or to collect insurance. On July 23, 1968, however, a very dif-
ferent motive led three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine (PFLP) to hijack an El Al Flight, a political one. Though eve-
ryone aboard was released after 40 days of negotiations, a precedent had
been established. In addition to personal goals, revenge or money, attacks
on planes could be designed to achieve a political objective, in this case to
draw attention to a cause and to achieve the release of political prisoners.
Now that it was apparent that attacks on aviation could promote
political goals, it was inevitable that some organization would do so more
violently. That tragic event took place two decades later, in December
1988, with the destruction of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Two
hundred and fifty-nine passengers and crew plus 11 local inhabitants were
killed. Another turning point had been reached, for though the goal was
also political, the objective was to sow terror and inflict psychological and
economic damage.
However, it took some time before the importance of achieving effective
aviation security received the attention that it required. The need to do so
was finally brought home by the 9/11 attack on the twin towers of the World
Trade Center in Manhattan and on the Pentagon in Washington, DC. 9/11
introduced a new chapter in aviation security, for that disaster dramatically
demonstrated the degree to which aviation could be exploited by terrorists
to further their aims and forced not only the United States, but other coun-
tries as well, to focus on the numerous vulnerabilities that characterized the
aviation system at that time. Since then enormous amounts of resources
have been allocated throughout the globe in an effort to ensure that people
and goods can be securely transported internationally.
Yet the attacks continue because of the attractiveness of the targets
and the difficulties involved in safeguarding the aviation sector, including
the terrorists’ capabilities in circumventing the security measures that
have been implemented. They have continually worked to develop new
tactics as evidenced by their ever-changing modes of attack and choice
of targets within the aviation system. Thus, attacks have ranged from a
‘shoe bomber’ seeking to destroy a plane to bombings of terminals. And,
even as these words are being written, intelligence reports that terrorists
are developing a new threat involving bombs that cannot be detected
with existing technologies have led to the US decision to impose new

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Introduction ­3

r­ estrictions involving laptops on flights originating from certain countries.

Nor can one minimize other very real potential threats including a cyber-
attack on a range of possible targets to the use of drones or a missile. The
ever-changing nature of the threat to aviation obviously requires continual
adjustments on the part of security agencies and the adoption of proactive
rather than reactive strategies.
The threat of a cyber-attack, which can originate anywhere, under-
lines another of the numerous difficulties in achieving aviation security,
its global character. Since it is an international activity, no nation can
ensure that its airlines and airports can be secure, regardless of the
resources that it devotes to this effort. Even if a country develops, funds,
and implements effective national policies, a high percentage of arrivals
(people and freight) originate elsewhere so that a failure to effectively
screen passengers, baggage, and cargo at the point of origin or at stops
along the way can profoundly impact that country’s aviation sector. The
Lockerbie massacre tragically demonstrated this vulnerability, for the
flight to New York originated in Frankfurt and involved a change of
planes in London. The bomb that destroyed the plane had been placed
in a Samsonite suitcase and interline luggage security proved to be
tragic­ally inadequate.
Accordingly, regional and international coordination is essential, and
an entire body of international air law has emerged as well as numerous
regional agreements designed to overcome the limits that the functioning of
this sector imposed on individual countries. By World War II, the dramatic
growth and technological developments that had taken place in previous
decades led to a widespread understanding that an international agree-
ment regulating many aspects of aviation was necessary. Accordingly, in
1944, a meeting was held in Chicago that produced a Convention on Civil
Aviation (the Chicago Convention) that was signed by 52 countries. That
landmark treaty established the International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO), which became a specialized UN agency in 1947. Though security
was not an important agenda item at that time, it subsequently became
a major area of concern, beginning in 1963 with the Tokyo Convention.
Today, it plays a major role in organizing international efforts to safeguard
aviation, for each member is required to establish a security organization
that develops and implements a specific program to secure its airports
and airlines. Reaching agreements on such topics and ensuring that states
implement them effectively, however, is obviously a challenging task given
the variety of states involved, their differing characteristics, policies and
Nevertheless, the importance of overcoming such obstacles and achiev-
ing multinational cooperation is widely accepted given the nature and

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4 Air transport security

goals of the organizations that pose the greatest threat to aviation security
today – al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS). Al-Qaeda is, of course,
responsible for the new era in aviation security, which was inaugurated
by its deadly 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Though its power and influence apparently diminished following the death
of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, it has recently experienced a resurgence that
is likely to continue. Even if that does not occur, it still retains the ability
and interest in attacking aviation facilities in many countries.
ISIS, unlike al-Qaeda, sought to establish its rule over a geographic area
but it has lost almost 60 percent of the territory it controlled in Iraq and
Syria in the last few years and remains under severe pressure. Though it
will probably lose much more territory, it has demonstrated its ability to
use the internet to recruit men and women in many countries who, whether
for a shared religious orientation, support for its goals, or personal reasons,
are willing to engage in terrorist plots. Thus, regardless of what happens
on the ground, ISIS will doubtless be able to continue to attract adherents
and to organize terrorist attacks. Accordingly, it too must be considered
a continuing terrorist threat, one which has been and will continue to be
directed to aviation.
Furthermore, given the growing competition between ISIS and al-Qaeda
for global support and resources from the multinational jihadi community,
the threat to aviation is likely to increase in the years to come. And, other
groups and organizations may well follow their example. How widely avi­
ation continues to be regarded as an attractive target was recently vividly
illustrated by the comments made, on February 1, 2017, by a Palestinian
leader, Fatah Central Committee member and former Palestinian negoti­
ator Nabil Shaath. After condemning Europe for its lack of concern for
the fate of the Syrian people and noting that the terror attacks had led
to action, he stated: ‘Do we have to hijack your planes and destroy your
airports again to make you care about our cause?’1
Clearly, the state of global aviation security requires continuing atten-
tion. In this work, distinguished scholars explore the structure and
functioning of this global system and the evolution and current state of
the security arrangements that have been implemented in many countries.
Thus, Part I consists of a discussion of the various domestic and external
factors that have influenced the organization and functioning of the avi­
ation sector. The goal of this section is to identify the context within which
security issues are defined, agendas established, decisions made, policy
formulated, and resources allocated. Furthermore, the strengths and weak-
nesses of this structure and its functioning are also identified and discussed
including an analysis of the unique characteristics of air cargo and their
implications for security.

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Introduction ­5

Chapter 2, ‘The policy dimensions of air transport security’ by Joseph

S. Szyliowicz, examines the public policy dimensions that impact aviation
and the security issues involved. These can be considered at three levels:
the national, the international, and the regional. Essentially, the policy
adopted by a state can be analyzed along two dimensions, the particular
issue area and the policy instrument that is applied. Thus, the choices
that states make in defining and prioritizing their aviation issues and in
selecting particular instruments will vary. Though all consider aviation
security an important topic, the specific measures that are adopted depend
upon such factors as international requirements, the nature of the political
system, and relations with industry. Such considerations also influence
developments at the international level, which has witnessed the growth
and expansion of a large body of international agreements and conven-
tions. Though these play an important role in safeguarding aviation, issues
of application and implementation sometimes continue to pose difficult
challenges. In order to overcome some of these, regional organizations,
notably by the EU, have implemented policies designed to ensure that
security standards are effectively developed and implemented within the
region. Some states, notably the US have also adopted policies that seek to
ensure that the aviation systems of other countries with whom they inter-
act closely will be secure. Still, despite all these efforts, ensuring that the
global aviation system functions in a secure manner remains a challenge.
Chapter 3, ‘Economic issues in air transport security’ by Luca Zamparini,
aims at providing a brief review of the economics literature on air transport
security by considering the various dimensions that have to be tackled in
order to reach an optimal level of security procurement. The chapter will
emphasize that it is important to consider that a good amount of security
does not only benefit air passengers, freight forwarders, airlines and the
other economic actors that are directly involved in the aviation industry.
It also generates positive spillovers (externalities) in the overall economic
system. The chapter will also discuss the assessment of risk in aviation
security by determining that there are four types of societal risks that have
to be considered in models dealing with this topic: perceived, real, statisti-
cal and predicted risk. It will then analyze two different models that have
been proposed in order to estimate the net benefits that are determined by
the adoption of air transport security measures. Lastly, it will discuss the
models that assess airport security screening. This appears to be the topic
that has attracted the largest share of the relevant literature.
Chapter 4, ‘International and EU legal frameworks of aviation security’
by Francesco Rossi Dal Pozzo, stresses the intrinsic international nature of
air transport and travel and the consequent need to implement a common
legal framework. The legal initiatives related to aviation security started

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6 Air transport security

to emerge in the 1960s as an answer to the first wave of hijackings and

were substantiated in the Tokyo Convention in 1963. Subsequent terror-
ist related hijackings led to The Hague and Montreal Conventions. The
consequent regulations were changed in the decade following the tragic
events of September 11, 2001 by enhancing the security protocols within
the aircrafts and at the airports. Such measures should be commensurate
with the risks that may be faced and should take into account cost-benefit
ratio analyses. The Resolution A39-18 adopted by ICAO members during
the 39th ICAO General Assembly in Montreal (September–October 2016)
has consolidated the previous regulations and has started to consider
cyber-attacks. The chapter then considers the EU regulations for aviation
security since the September 11 events. It emphasizes that the first response
led to regulations that were not easily implemented and that, in the ensu-
ing years, several measures were aimed at increasing security levels and at
homogenizing the protocols and procedures among countries. A further
section of the chapter discusses passenger name records, which started as
a commercial initiative and was converted to a security protocol in 2004.
Chapter 5 on ‘The role of the private sector for air transport security’,
by Jeffrey C. Price, discusses various areas of air transport security that
involve the private sector. Corporations are normally employed because
they are supposedly able to bring a higher degree of efficiency to various
tasks than government agencies. The first dimensions that the chapter
considers are security screening technologies and personnel. Prior to
September 11, security screening was managed by private firms. This
was then questioned given that aviation security was deemed to represent
a national security issue. Eventually, some airports in the US opted for
Transport Security Administration (TSA) screening and others for private
companies under the supervision of TSA. A close collaboration between
private firms and public authorities has historically characterized the
evolution of security screening technologies and apparels. The chapter
also discusses access control, identity management and airport perim-
eter security; activities that are deployed by private security contractors.
Especially important, in this context, are the perimeter intrusion detection
systems aimed at preventing the access of unauthorized personnel onto the
airfield. The chapter then discusses the aircraft operator security technol-
ogy. Cockpit doors and secondary flight deck barrier protections, and their
evolution over time, are two noteworthy examples. Finally, the intelligence
dimension, including interdiction and research to prevent security related
episodes, is considered.
Part I of the book closes with Chapter 6, ‘The challenge of air cargo
security’ by Douglas Brittin. This branch of the aviation industry confronts
unique challenges as the industry seeks to achieve a high level of protection

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Introduction ­7

while maintaining good business practices. Air cargo is a vast and growing
sector that transports a wide range of products, including some that are
classified as ‘dangerous goods’, in a variety of different models, each of
which presents its own security challenges. In each, numerous actors are
involved, ranging from shippers to freight forwarders to the transportation
companies. Security has always been a challenge to the industry because of
criminal activities but in recent decades the terrorist threat has led to the
development of new security processes and regulations, which, given the
nature of the supply chains, require common global practices and object­
ives. Furthermore, these regulations extend well beyond merely screening
at airports and involve a wide variety of programs, procedures and tech-
nologies. Achieving a high level of security in this environment requires
the resolution of numerous complex operational issues. Safeguarding air
cargo under these conditions requires, above all, close cooperation with
regulators, and globally accepted standards and definitions.
Having established the general context which shapes global aviation and
its security, we turn our attention, in Part II, to a number of country case
studies drawn from several geographic regions (North America, South
America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia). All these countries have
confronted various problems in their efforts to establish effective security
policies and practices as a result of their particular situations. Accordingly,
this section has two goals. First, it seeks to identify communalities and
differences in how states define security issues, establish agendas, make
decisions, formulate policy and allocate resources. Second, it seeks to
identify the strengths and weaknesses of the security structures that these
states have established in order to draw comparative conclusions.
This section opens with Chapter 7, by Joseph S. Szyliowicz, which dis-
cusses the ‘Aviation security in the USA’. The US did not accord adequate
attention to safeguarding its extensive aviation system prior to 9/11 but
it then moved vigorously to confront the security challenge. It adopted
various new policies, rules, and regulations that established a new structure
and adopted policies that were designed to ensure that passengers could
fly safely, that cargo would be secure and that general aviation facilities
would also be adequately protected. As part of this effort, it has played an
important role in attempting to ensure that its security standards applied
beyond its borders. Nevertheless, the analysis reveals that despite all these
efforts, all parts of its aviation system – passengers, cargo, and general
aviation – still contain various shortcomings.
Chapter 8, by Kamaal Zaidi, considers ‘Aviation security policy in
Canada’. He begins by noting the multilayered security matrix, made
up of a network of laws, regulations, policies, measures, programs and
technology that serve as the guiding framework for aviation security in

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8 Air transport security

Canada. The importance of this multilayered security matrix emerges

when one layer is breached and the others continue to serve as preventive
barriers to avoid criminal attacks or interference with civil aviation. The
chapter then lists all government and private entities involved in aviation
security and their procedures and activities. The author then considers the
various programs and measures that have been adopted for both passenger
and cargo security along with the relevant laws, and the main purpose of
each law. The chapter finally discusses the main trends that characterize
the current evolution of aviation security: a) privacy and aviation security;
b) the review of Canada’s Transportation Act; c) the regulation of drones;
and d) the right to protest in Canadian airports.
Chapter 9, by Dawna Rhoades and Michael J. Williams, turns its atten-
tion to a South American country and examines ‘Safety and security in
Brazilian aviation’. The chapter begins with a description of the Brazilian
geography and population and a discussion of their importance for the
design of safety and security measures. It then considers the air transporta-
tion sector in the key areas of airlines, airports, aircraft manufacturing,
general aviation, air traffic management and aircraft maintenance and
training. Brazilian airlines have been characterized, historically, by a high
level of instability over time. Some airports suffer from overcrowding and
the related flight delays and cancellations. General aviation plays an impor-
tant role in Brazil, particularly for many destinations in the less developed
interior of the country, which cannot be reached by surface transport, or
only with difficulty. The chapter then discusses safety and security issues.
In the latter case, both crimes against passengers and cargo thefts are con-
sidered. The difficulties of airport security due to the lack of investments
in surveillance technology and of physical and electronic barriers are
highlighted and a list of possible recommendations for the improvement
of cargo and passenger security is then provided. The chapter ends with a
description of the Civil Aviation National Agency, which is responsible for
aviation regulation in Brazil.
Chapter 10, by Hillel Avihai, discusses ‘Air transport security in Israel’.
The chapter begins by considering the relevance of the terrorist hijacking
in 1968 for the development of a very stringent aviation security strategy
in Israel. It then lists and comments on the main security related episodes
that have occurred since. Israeli security philosophy has, at its core, the
necessity to identify potential terrorists, which it seeks to achieve by rely-
ing mainly on the detection of passengers’ intentions. The chapter then
lists the assumptions that characterize the multi-circle strategy adopted
by the Israeli security officers and agencies. They emphasize the role of
technology and of well-trained personnel and the importance of security
over some inconvenience to passengers. The various circles of aviation

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Introduction ­9

security are represented by the area around the aircraft, terminal security
and preventing the aircraft from being used as a flying missile. In order to
achieve this goal various measures in terms of security personnel, strength-
ened cockpit doors and cargo containers have been adopted. The chapter
then considers the security procedures at Israel’s airport, which have, as
their aim, that no suspicious human or physical element should be able to
overcome the security checks. This is accomplished by a profiling of pas-
sengers by trained personnel. The chapter concludes with a comparative
analysis between the human and the technological elements that includes a
discussion of their related advantages and disadvantages.
Chapter 11, ‘Air transport security in Kenya’ by Evaristus Irandu,
provides a study related to an African country. It considers the relationship
between air transport and the overall development of African countries
and identifies security as one of the most relevant issues in this context.
It then reports on the continually growing trend of air transport in Kenya
and the quantity and quality of airports in the country. The chapter con-
siders the procedures and protocols that characterize security in Kenyan
airports and the agencies that are involved in these tasks. Air cargo security
is also analyzed and the roles of the various public and private stakeholders
involved are discussed. The author concludes that it is impossible to per-
form a full screening of all items. The chapter then lists and discusses other
air transport security challenges faced by Kenya, including the location of
airports, access control and airport perimeter fencing, security screening
equipment and procedures, and the training of security personnel. The
chapter finally considers the main strategies to enhance air transport secur­
ity in Kenya, which include the need to implement ICAO standards, to
cooperate with other East African Community members and to implement
the Aviation Security (AVSEC) mechanism.
Chapter 12, ‘Air transport security in Malaysia’ by Priyanka Puri,
Manjit Singh Sandhu and Santha Vaithlingam, focuses on a country
that has suffered some of the worst episodes related to aviation security
in the current decade. The chapter begins by stressing the relevance that
the tragic events of 2014 have had on the perception of security by the
Malaysian airline and by the general public. It also provides a quantitative
estimate of the loss in income in the aftermath of these episodes. It then
discusses the Malaysian civil aviation industry and provides a thorough
analysis of the two episodes that occurred in 2014. The chapter then
considers air transport security in Malaysia with special attention to the
role, functions and organization of its governing body, the Department of
Civil Aviation. It also considers the main challenges that the Department
confronts including aircraft flight tracking and conflict zone risk mitiga-
tion. A thorough analysis of these topics is presented both in terms of risk

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10 Air transport security

assessment and of possible strategies to minimize the threats they pose to

a secure aviation system.
Chapter 13, by Toki Udagawa Hirakawa, entitled ‘Air transport security
in Japan’ considers the situation in a second Asian country. The chapter
begins with detailed descriptions of the three main aviation security related
episodes that have involved Japan Airlines both domestically and at foreign
airports/routes. These served to raise awareness of the importance of the
issue of aviation security and the need for new measures. September 11
marked another turning point and led to the further strengthening of secu-
rity related measures. Though these changes enhanced the level of security,
the chapter continues by highlighting and describing the main problems
that still need to be dealt with in order to further strengthen the Japanese
aviation security system. These are related to voluntary security checks, to
the imposition of expenses to private airlines, to the overall organizational
structure of the aviation security system and to the balance between
security and service. The chapter concludes by noting the importance of
aviation security for the successful development of the 2020 Olympic and
Paralympic games in Tokyo.
This second section concludes with Chapter 14, by Jeffrey Price,
‘Aviation security in Australia’. It begins by emphasizing that the provision
of aviation security is a challenging task in the country given the number
of airports and the quantity of passengers and cargo. It then describes
the situation that characterized aviation security before 2001, one that
did not consider terrorism explicitly because of the widespread belief that
Australia was not considered as an important target. Things dramatically
changed after the September 11 events, for these led to a complete recon-
sideration of the aviation security structure and procedures in the country,
including an immediate commitment for security upgrades that involved
all domains of aviation. The chapter then discusses two subsequent
security related episodes that raised doubts about the effectiveness of the
measures that had been adopted. An external investigation and an inquiry
that lasted three years resulted in a series of recommendations on how to
further strengthen the Australian security system. The chapter ends with
a description of the most recent events and with an analysis of the most
controversial issues that prevail in Australian aviation security.
In the last chapter of the book, we turn our attention to a consideration
of the issues that have emerged in the two previous sections of the book.
We begin by identifying the significance of various contextual issues that
have shaped aviation security policy and the general challenges that remain
to be tackled at that level. We then turn our attention to a comparative
analysis of the specific case studies in order to identify the similarities and
differences in the policies that different states have adopted, the resources

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Introduction ­11

they have allocated, and their effectiveness. We conclude with an analysis

of the lessons that emerge and a consideration of what, if anything, can be
done to enhance aviation security, nationally and globally given not only
the known existing threats but those that loom on the horizon as well.


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Themes, issues and frameworks

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SZYLIOWICZ 9781786435194 PRINT.indd 14 25/07/2018 10:56
The policy dimensions of air
transport security
Joseph S. Szyliowicz


The structure and functioning of the aviation system has changed dramati-
cally in recent years and these developments have had major contextual
and substantive implications for security policy at all levels, international,
regional, and national.
Essentially these changes can be attributed to four major trends that
have transformed transportation systems everywhere and have had major
impacts upon public policy in regards to aviation and the other modes. The
first is globalization, which has resulted in the ever increasing interaction of
public and private systems across national boundaries. This process, which
has been facilitated by information and other technological advances, has
not only led to an enormous growth in the movement of people and goods
across national boundaries but it has created complex new national and
cross national security issues. It has also contributed to the emergence of
powerful organizations in both the passenger and freight sectors, actors
who have wielded great influence in the shaping of national, regional,
and international policies. Their enhanced role has been facilitated by a
second trend, increased privatization and deregulation. As aviation has
constantly grown in economic and commercial importance, states have
granted the airlines far more freedom of action than ever before so that
they and numerous related organizations have emerged as major actors
in the development and implementation of policy, including security. A
third trend, intermodalism or multimodalism, has involved the increas-
ing integration of the various transport modes, which traditionally have
functioned as separate entities, into a single system. This trend has also
facilitated personal travel and the shipment of goods but it too has created
complex new security challenges ranging from the design of large new
facilities to effective communications between different groups of security
personnel.1 Finally, one cannot overlook the ever growing public concern
with social and political issues such as sustainable development, climate


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16 Air transport security

change and privacy.2 All these trends may have resulted in enhanced
transport efficiency but each has also created complex new challenges for
the development of effective policies to safeguard aviation nationally and
Any policy, including the ones that governments have adopted in regards
to aviation, can be analyzed along two dimensions – the specific issue area
involved and the policy instrument that is used to resolve it.3 Aviation
policy inevitably has to deal with a wide range of socio-economic and
political issues involving airports, airlines, and passengers. In the case of
airports for example, questions such as ownership and control, construc-
tion and expansion, degree and type of economic autonomy, frequently
arouse controversy. Similar issues arise in regards to airline regulations in
such areas as market access, routes, fares, marketing, rural air services and
safety issues among others – all of which have security implications.
Though all states have to deal with such issue areas, they have numerous
instruments available. These include outright ownership, subsidies, direct
and indirect contractual arrangements, regulatory controls and research
and development activities. Which one is selected, and how it is applied, is
determined by numerous factors including the nature and functioning of
the political system, and its socio-economic context, including financial,
social, and international considerations. As a result, wide variations exist
in the policies that are adopted and in their implementation. Thus, though
airports are still essentially controlled by public entities – national, state or
municipal governments – the relationship between the public and private
sectors has evolved over time so that today the private sector has assumed
a large role in many operations as well as becoming increasingly inte-
grated.4 Given the political variables involved, however, it is not surprising
that states exercise different degrees of control over their operation as well
as over the airlines that use them. Such variations obviously create great
difficulties in efforts to achieve the degree of harmonization that a secure
global aviation system requires.
All states, however, consider their aviation systems to be valuable
economic and social sectors whose many dimensions require governmental
attention. Australia, for example, recently published a comprehensive
‘National Aviation Policy White Paper’,5 which identified this sector as ‘an
industry of national strategic importance’ and ‘a key driver of broader eco-
nomic prosperity’,6 and established long term goals which reflect the key
actors and the potential political conflicts involved. Though the govern-
ment accords priority to safety and security, these include (1) international
aviation, (2) domestic, regional, and general aviation, (3) industry skills
and productivity, (4) consumer protection, (5) airport infrastructure, and
(6) environmental impacts. Thus, though it explicitly recognizes the critical

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The policy dimensions of air transport security ­17

economic role of the private sector it has to interact with it to develop

policies that deal with aviation’s impact upon communities, travelers and
the environment.7
Such policies are outlined for each sector. In the security area, these are
designed to minimize risks, develop functional relationships with industry,
align with international requirements and minimize negative impacts upon
passengers and cargo. The specific instruments include passenger and
baggage screening for large aircraft by 2014, hardened cockpit doors (in
accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) stand-
ards) for all planes carrying 30 or more passengers, working with airports
and airlines to safeguard public areas, requiring that all those involved in
screening be certified annually, the provision of enhanced training to ensure
national consistency, strengthening the Aviation Security Identification
Card system, cooperating with industry to implement effective cargo
screening technologies, requiring that a high level executive be assigned
responsibility for security in relevant organizations, and increasing the
number of visits to selected high risk foreign airports. Similar issue areas
have been identified by many countries but the degree of governmental
control and regulation varies as does their actual implementation since the
available instruments inevitably involve controversial economic and polit­
ical issues whose resolution will be influenced to a greater or lesser degree
by economic considerations and the political power that relevant publics
and organizations are able to exercise.
The role of such considerations is evidenced by the US case, where the
government establishes policies that the legislature oversees and impacts
through legislation. Though airlines were deregulated in 1978 and the
areas of governmental control greatly reduced, such issues as mergers,
market alliances, safety, security, and consumer practices, all remain the
province of various departments.
The Office of Aviation and International Affairs within the Department
of Transportation is generally responsible for domestic and international
aviation policy including the licensing of US and foreign carriers of
various types, the provision of essential air services (EAS), and the
development of air services to rural areas. It does so through the offices
for international transportation and trade, international aviation, and
aviation analysis.8 The Office of International Aviation is concerned with
the relationship between US airlines and foreign countries, and to that end,
it has various divisions which deal with the relevant issues. Its negotiating
section is responsible for planning and negotiating agreements that ensure
that US airlines are able to achieve competitive access to external markets.
Its Pricing and Multilateral Affairs division focuses on the pricing issues
involved in bilateral and multilateral agreements and monitors foreign

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18 Air transport security

carriers to ensure that their rules conform to US expectations. It also

handles relations with international and regional agencies including ICAO,
the European Union (EU), and the World Trade Organization. The Air
Carrier Licensing Division works with airlines seeking to enter foreign
markets and also handles their complaints of unfair practices by foreign
governments. Foreign Air Carrier Licensing is responsible for dealing with
foreign carriers seeking to operate in the US. The last, Special Authorities,
handles such issues as insurance and bonding issues, foreign charter flights
and air freight forwarders. Other bureaus, each with its own divisions,
include the office of Aviation Analysis.
Still, Congress retains considerable power. It authorizes funding for
many aviation projects and programs, and can, through legislation, impact
numerous complex topics including airline mergers and acquisitions, pas-
senger rights, safety, and the authority of the Federal Aviation Authority
(FAA), which is responsible for operational issues. Indeed, in regards, to
security, Congress legislated major changes following 9/11. The two most
notable were the creation of an enormous new agency, the Transportation
Security Administration, and the creation of a federal corps that replaced
the private passenger and baggage security screeners, a move that still
arouses controversy.
In the years since then, many security issues have remained of concern
to Congress, an indication of the degree to which achieving aviation
security remains an ongoing policy challenge. These include the effective-
ness of screening procedures for passengers and their luggage as well as
air cargo, the appropriate utilization of intelligence and watch lists, the
adequacy of emergency responses, and dealing with external threats to
aircraft including cyber-attacks, and the impact of drones. Each of these
areas raises numerous public policy issues including privacy and passenger
redress, achieving uniformity across airports, economic costs, racial and
ethnic profiling, the proper role for the private sector, and how to ensure
appropriate security levels for foreign air carriers and airports.9
Naturally various aviation groups seek to influence Congressional deci-
sions in their areas of interest. ‘Airlines for America’, which represents the
major airlines, for example, has defined its policy priorities in the following
order – taxes, regulatory burden, NextGen (a new air control system), global
competition, energy and the environment (stabilizing fuel costs, development
of alternative fuels) and safety.10 To what degree and in what ways Congress
reacts to such concerns is determined by numerous factors, but as the chair
of a key committee recently noted ‘I believe they (the aviation industry) have
had enough, but never underestimate the power of their lobby.’11
The policy objectives and issues articulated by the Australian and
American governments demonstrate that the traditional view of the avi­

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The policy dimensions of air transport security ­19

ation sector, that it represents an important element of national power

– soft and hard – has endured. Still, even in the industry’s earliest days, the
need for at least bilateral cooperation was obvious, and as aviation became
increasingly globalized, the need for ever increasing areas of international
cooperation could not be ignored. Thus, though every state has always had
to balance its domestic priorities with international considerations, the
need for a multilateral approach became ever more obvious, as did action
to enhance the safety and security of the people who fly and of the system
as a whole.


The earliest effort to harmonize what was then a new, albeit rapidly devel-
oping, industry occurred soon after the Wright brothers’ first successful
flight in 1903 because of the important role that this new technology
played in World War I. Shortly after its conclusion, the Paris Convention
was enacted in 1919 in order to regulate aerial navigation while recogniz-
ing that national sovereignty extended upwards. As aviation continued to
assume an ever increasing role in transporting people and goods, the need
for an international organization to regulate aviation became increasingly
obvious and in 1944, 52 countries signed the Convention on Civil Aviation
of 1944 in Chicago (the Chicago Convention), which established the
ICAO. In 1947 it became one of the specialized agencies of the United
Nations and today has 191 members.
The Convention, which became operational in 1947, noted the role that
aviation can play in enhancing international understanding as well as its
destructive potential and therefore sought to promote its growth and to
provide safe travel. To that end, it established international standards for
aircraft licensing, operations, communications and other technical dimen-
sions though security issues were not considered until terrorists began to
target aviation in the 1960s.
To counter this new threat, conventions dealing with security, both in the
air and at airports were enacted over time. The first step occurred in 1963
when the Tokyo Convention was adopted but as new types of attacks and
issues proliferated, ICAO continued to expand its role in combating terror-
ism by seeking to strengthen the international legal framework. Important
steps were taken at The Hague in 1970 to deal with the unlawful seizure of
aircraft, and at a major international conference in Montreal in 1971, when
the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety
of Civil Aviation was accepted and a supplement that protected airports
was also agreed upon. In 1974, a very important addition to international

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20 Air transport security

aviation security was made with the passage of Annex 17, an addition to
the Chicago Convention which requires each state to adopt a specific pro-
gram to safeguard its airports and planes from any type of threat. ICAO
members must create a specific national security organization responsible
for adopting a variety of such important measures as passenger, baggage
and cargo screening.12
Despite their importance, such international agreements suffer from an
important limitation – they only apply to the signatories. Thus, though
191 states are members, the Tokyo Convention has 186 signatories, The
Hague Convention 178, the Montreal Convention 174, and the latest, the
Beijing Convention of 2010, which was designed to update the Montreal
Convention, only eight states also differ in the number of conventions and
protocols (ICAO lists 48) that they commit to. Australia, for example has
signed up to 32, Switzerland 35, France 33 and the US 25.13
Nevertheless, by virtue of their membership, every member of ICAO is
required to implement a variety of measures to safeguard aviation from
terrorist attacks. The key regulation that deals explicitly with aviation
security is Annex 17 of the Chicago Convention, which shall ‘have as its
primary objective the safety of passengers, crew, ground personnel and
the general public in all matters related to safeguarding against acts of
unlawful interference with civil aviation’. In order to achieve this goal,
each state is required to create a specific program to ensure the security
of its aviation activities. These programs should include such measures
as the screening of passengers, their luggage, mail, and air cargo as well
as securing cockpit doors, safeguarding airports, background checks
and training programs for security personnel, and cooperation with
other members in such area as sharing intelligence in order to protect
the global system. The requirements imposed by previous conventions
(Tokyo, The Hague, and Montreal), which provide for the policies that
states must take in the case of hijackings are also reaffirmed and various
other annexes also impose various requirements that are designed to
enhance security.14 The attacks of 9/11 prompted further actions by
ICAO to safeguard aviation, notably its June 2002 Universal Security
Audit Program (USAP), which was specifically designed to assess the
degree to which states were actually implementing Annex 17. Within five
years, 182 audits were carried out (172 of which yielded follow-up visits
to ensure that weaknesses had been remedied), and a new set of audits
was promptly initiated in 2008.15
Annex 17 is the primary policy instrument that underlies ICAO’s efforts
to enhance global aviation security and it has been updated many times to
meet new challenges; the latest amendment, the fourteenth, took effect in
November 2014. Thus, the original focus on establishing Standards and

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The policy dimensions of air transport security ­21

Recommended Practices (SARPs) has expanded and covers three primary

areas – the audits, providing assistance to states to help meet the expected
standards, and various policy initiatives which are based on work by the
secretariat and the Aviation Security (AVSEC) panel, which consists of 27
experts nominated by member states and five industry observers. ICAO
panels also work on explosives, travel documents, security training in such
areas as airline and cargo operations, and crisis management.
Though ICAO has vigorously attempted to strengthen the international
legal framework regarding security by drafting new conventions and proto­
cols, this process inevitably involves complex and difficult negotiations. To
begin with, there are debates over technical issues such as: are more legal
instruments required? Or should the focus remain on Annex 17?16 Then
there are the issues raised by the nature of the international system itself,
which present major difficulties in efforts to create an international legal
system that can minimize terrorist attacks on aviation. The history of
the drafting of the Beijing Convention and the Beijing Protocol of 2010
illustrates this point vividly.
The 9/11 attacks revealed the need to update and expand the four decade
old Montreal Convention (1971) and its Protocol (1988) as well as the
1970 Hague Convention in order to cope with the new realities. Though
the Beijing agreements ‘remove ambiguity in a number of key areas (and)
constitute a valuable contribution of the international legal community
to the area of aviation security’, the fact that it took nine years of dif-
ficult negotiations anticipates the difficulties of having it enter into force.
Indeed, doing so has proven as difficult as the drafting, and as of October
2016 it was still not in force, having been signed by only 32 states and
ratified by only 16 of the 22 states that are necessary. Among the missing
are many of the major powers including the US, the UK, China, Russia,
France and Germany.
Even if such an instrument achieves ratification, the issue of national
implementation remains. Given the variety of states involved with their
differing political systems, ideologies and resources, it is inevitable that
some of those who sign on will fail to adopt appropriate policies or to
implement them effectively. One scholar who carried out a detailed analysis
of the many threats posed to aviation and the ways that aviation security
law has attempted to deal with each of them has made this point as follows:

Despite ICAO’s attempts to facilitate agreements between nations on principles

of air security, there currently exists no uniform and universal enforcement
system. Because of the wide spectrum of political ideologies, it is extremely
difficult to promulgate enforcement measures that would be adopted by a
­sufficient number of states to be able to function effectively.17

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22 Air transport security

In short, it is necessary to understand that, like any international

organization, ICAO is a political institution whose policies and actions are
determined by its member states, each of which, as noted earlier, has its
own agenda and political and economic concerns.
Furthermore, a range of non-state actors seeking to promote their own
interests are also active at the international level. The members of the civil
aviation unions of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF),
for example, actively lobbied their governments at the ICAO’s Triennial
Assembly meeting in October 2016, presenting working and information
papers dealing with the implications of various regulatory issues on
employees. As its secretary pointed out ‘[t]he issues . . . are the big ones,
not just for unions but for passengers and for the industry. National lob-
bying is key to bringing these topics to the forefront of the agenda . . .’.18
Numerous other organizations play a role in shaping international aviation
security policy including the Airports Council International, which has
a Security Standing Committee that ‘works with ICAO to ensure that
global standards and recommended practices are the most appropriate for
airports’ and has implemented various programs to ensure that airports
achieve those standards. It also cosponsors, with the International Air
Transport Association (whose members include the world’s major airlines)
an annual meeting that deals with passenger screening technologies.19
In order to achieve uniformity in the various policy instruments that are
required, ICAO provides SARPS, which specify the standards that member
states are expected to follow. The goal is to provide a common set of secu-
rity measures across the globe, but they do not possess the same legal force
as Article 37, which is an international treaty. Furthermore, governments
are only obliged to work to achieve uniformity though they may inform
ICAO of any discrepancies between a SARP and the manner in which it is
actually striving to achieve security for the issue area involved.20 However,
the Chicago Convention specifically and international treaty law generally
permit any member of ICAO to take legal action against another state for
its failure to comply with the security regulations provided for in Annex
17 (and other conventions). This option is rarely exercised, however, given
the political implications as well as the financial and other costs involved.
As a recent study noted: ‘there is unlikely to be any real prospect that such
measures would be involved (or be deemed to be suitable) in the situation
where one contracting state is not fully compliant with aviation security
SARPs’. To what degree such legalisms can or do impact security remains
unclear since ICAO actively audits security systems to ensure compliance
with the SARPs.21 Though this is clearly an important mechanism, the
degree of its effectiveness has been questioned. One analyst noted that,
despite efforts to enhance safety through SARPs ‘many states – mainly the

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The policy dimensions of air transport security ­23

more developed states but including many developing states have remedied
their non-compliance but other states have failed to remedy their safety
deficiencies due to a lack of will, means or ability’.22
All efforts to achieve international legal cooperation are complicated by
the failure to agree on what constitutes the definition of ‘terrorism’. Even
though the UN’s Security Council has agreed that international terrorism
is a major contemporary threat, the international community has failed to
agree on a legal definition. This effort, which dates back over 50 years, (to
1972), has foundered because it is a form of political violence which can,
and has, taken many forms including rebellions, revolutions, civil wars,
ethnic conflicts, anti-colonialism, and ideological disputes. As a result, ‘ter-
rorism remains a diffuse concept, which is addressed worldwide through
different ways, with different means and distinctive purposes, especially
since terrorist conduct sits at the crossroads between political expression
and crime. Not coincidentally, terrorism is the topic in international law,
on which there is an unprecedented amount of disagreement.’23 From a
legal perspective the key issue is whether a terrorist act is a criminal act and
if international agreement could somehow be reached that it does qualify
as such, then international efforts to combat this threat would be greatly


Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that regional organizations,

particularly the EU, have adopted region wide and bilateral policies
designed to enhance the international efforts regarding aviation security.
EU regulations are established by its politically independent executive
branch, the European Commission, and adopted by the EU’s Parliament
and Council. They apply not only to the 28 member states but also to
Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The EU also has bilateral
agreements with various states, including the US.
As elsewhere, the 9/11 attacks led to the rapid adoption of new
security measures. Regulation No. 2320/2002 established basic standards
for how its members should interpret the provisions of Annex 17 to the
Chicago Convention. This regulation was subsequently replaced in 2008
by Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008 to strengthen the security measures
by, along with other steps, ensuring that new technologies would be
utilized. And, as new issues continued to emerge, additional regulations
were promptly adopted. The following year saw the adoption of new
measures in such areas as liquids, aerosols and gels, security scanners, air
cargo shipments, and the quality of national control programs. In 2016

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24 Air transport security

all previous regulations dealing with implementation were revised so as to

ensure that all states would actually adhere to the basic security standards.
Furthermore, the EU has adopted a set of additional general and detailed
rules that supplement those standards and focus specifically on their effect­
ive implementation.
These requirements cover every aspect of aviation, such as passen-
ger baggage and cargo screening, airport security, access control and
surveillance, aircraft security, and airport, airline and security person-
nel. Furthermore, each state must establish a specific security program,
complete with quality controls, that is administered by a single competent
authority. Furthermore, airport and air carrier operators must develop
and implement specific security programs. The specified security measures
represent the acceptable minimum that all states must adhere to, but they
can be augmented if deemed necessary. Because of the security issues
involved, these are not published.25
Despite all these efforts at ensuring the security of the system within its
borders, the EU, given its multinational framework, has to confront many
of the same problems as ICAO, especially how to ensure that the rules are
actually implemented appropriately by sovereign states. The EU, though,
has an important advantage over ICAO in this regard for it has created a
mechanism for that purpose – it possesses the power to carry out unan-
nounced inspections and to take action if a state fails to respond appropri-
ately. Still, states do not necessarily react as required. In 2014 a study by the
EU Commissioners reported that 81 percent of essential security measures
met the EU regulatory standards and 35 airports and governments had
adopted recommended measures to eliminate weaknesses, but 16 airports
in nine countries, including Germany, possessed serious shortcomings.
The German case provides a clear example of the process and the obs­
tacles that continue to hinder efforts to achieve uniform standards, even
among an integrated bloc of states. In the course of a decade, beginning in
2004, the EU inspected Germany’s security system 23 times and detected
flaws which the government failed to remedy. Finally, in November 2014
the EU decided to take stronger action and gave Germany two months
to eliminate a security breach in its supervisory system. When it failed to
comply, the EU announced in May 2015 that the matter was being sent to
the European Court of Justice. Even then, Germany did not take the neces-
sary measures, as demanded by the EU, until the 2016 terrorist attacks in
Brussels and Paris highlighted the need for a truly uniform high level of
security across the EU.26
Nevertheless, Germany was not the only EU country that failed to
implement effective airport security, as was shown by the devastating May
2016 attack by two suicide bombers in the Brussels airport’s departure

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The policy dimensions of air transport security ­25

hall. That tragedy further highlighted the implementation problem, for

its success was explicitly attributed to the Belgian government’s failure to
implement the EU’s rules in a satisfactory manner. Just one month prior to
the attack, the Commission had sent the government a report that identi-
fied ‘serious deficiencies’ in the way that the government was monitoring
the measures that were in place, thus failing to ensure the expected level of
security. The Minister of Transport, who resigned, apparently had never
seen the report.27 This episode serves to highlight the degree to which
security depends on effective administration and supervision, a capability
that varies widely among states.
Those attacks also stirred the UN to action. Later that year, the Security
Council, for the first time in its history, acknowledged aviation security was
a major global issue when it unanimously adopted UNSCR 2309. It ‘called
on all States to work with each other and the ICAO to continuously adapt
measures to meet that ever-evolving global threat’. It is difficult to see
how this resolution with its two elements, recognition of the importance
of safeguarding aviation and a simple call for all states to implement the
existing rules and regulations, actually enhances security given the nature
of the prevailing multifaceted implementation problems.
These were further highlighted when, also in May 2016, Egypt air flight
804 crashed into the Mediterranean, for it raised additional concerns
about the state of security at European airports, given ‘the history of
security lapses at all the airports the plane visited that day’.28 Since the
plane took off from Charles de Gaulle airport, its security measures
received particular attention, especially those taken to screen staff and
ground personnel. Indeed, previous rescreening, a regularly scheduled
security measure, had, since January 2015 led to over 60 individuals being
forbidden to enter security zones at the major international airports in
Paris.29 Personnel security issues were also uncovered in Norway where
non-citizens, employed by Norwegian airlines, did not undergo security
checks but were still allowed access to restricted areas.30
Aviation security within the EU (and its affiliates) also requires that its
standards prevail beyond its borders and the EU has adopted regulations
to ensure that this is the case. Any airline seeking to fly in or out of the EU
must meet specified standards and if they fail to do so they are not allowed
to enter EU airspace or can do so only under specified conditions. The
list of banned airlines runs to 18 pages.31 Air cargo has received special
attention. Even if the airline is permitted to fly into an EU airport, cargo
carriers that originate outside the EU have been required, (since July 2014)
to comply with the EU’s screening requirements. However, the requisite
checking is carried out by the relevant foreign agency.32 The EU recognizes
that the security policies of some countries regarding both air cargo and

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26 Air transport security

passenger flights do meet its standards and has signed bilateral agreements
with the US, Canada and a few other countries that exempts them from
such requirements.
Establishing all these rules and regulations, as was the case with ICAO,
often involved difficult and complex negotiations. These took place
most clearly in the Parliament where the member states sometimes could
not reach agreement on measures that had been recommended by the
Commission. One particularly troublesome area has involved financing,
whether the industry or governments should pay the costs required to
implement the security requirements. In 2009, the Commission suggested
that the costs be allocated on the basis of such principles as cost-­relatedness
and equity between passengers and the airlines. This directive sparked
such controversy among the national representatives that the legislature
was never able to accept this directive and the Commission withdrew the
proposal in 2015. Another Commission proposal that aroused controversy
involved the use of body scanners, which raised both privacy issues and the
protection of the acquired data.33 Accordingly the Commission issued a
new regulation in November 2011 that leaves decisions regarding scanners
to the individual states though if they are used at an airport, specific condi-
tions apply including that they not pose a health threat, that a passenger’s
privacy is protected, and that that no data be preserved.34 Body scanners,
however, have continued to raise national concerns. In October 2016, the
Commission proposed a new regulation dealing with airport screening
equipment in order to promote innovation and eliminate delays. However,
the European Scrutiny Committee of the British House of Commons
raised various concerns and called for an ‘urgent debate’ by Parliament.35
The 2016 Brussels airport bombings raised another security issue that
has aroused much controversy – how to safeguard an airport’s landside
sections. The EU quickly organized a meeting to discuss how best to
minimize this threat, but finding common ground is no simple matter since
security policies in these areas are generally the purview of governments.
Some countries, including Israel, do restrict access to arrival and departure
zones but questions have been raised about the economic and other impli-
cations of such measures as well as their efficacy. The Airports Council
International (ACI) Europe has, for example, explicitly expressed concerns
about the utility of restricting access to these area as well as the high costs
that airports would incur if they were to make the necessary adaptations.
Not only are numerous physical changes involved but new training pro-
grams would be required as well as additional screening technologies. An
ACI official pointed out that: ‘The possible adoption of additional security
measures such as checks on persons and goods entering airport landside
spaces could be disruptive and actually create new security vulnerabilities.’36

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The policy dimensions of air transport security ­27

Nor is it obvious that additional security measures such as canine teams

and behavioral detection units would reduce existing weaknesses and they
raise various issues such as privacy, a value whose significance differs
between states. How the landside access issue will be dealt with remains
to be seen but there is little doubt that agreement will be difficult to reach.
The EU is not the only regional organization seeking to ensure that its
region’s airlines and airports are secure. The Organization of American
States (OAS) has a security program aimed at enhancing the ability of its
members to comply with ICAO’s standards. Its secretariat is mandated to
identify issues and to ensure that training, and technical aid is available
to the states which need it. Such training, which also includes counter
terrorism generally so as to facilitate national sharing of best practices, has
been primarily provided by American experts though Canada, Israel, and
the region itself are providing increasing assistance and scholarships are
available to facilitate national participation in ICAO workshops.37
Such assistance is needed in many parts of the world. In the Pacific
region the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) confronts an even more
serious problem in ensuring aviation security. Though a system to ensure
compliance with ICAO regulations exists, it is inefficient and as a result
aviation security in the Pacific Island countries suffers from numerous
weaknesses and is essentially unable to meet ICAO standards. Since these
countries rely heavily on the aviation system for trade and tourism, the
mainstays of their economies, their development is severely threatened.
Structural and operational reforms are clearly necessary, but these alone do
not suffice and need to be supplemented by the provision of resources and
technical expertise which, (unlike in the OAS case), are not being supplied
by other states or organizations.38
Even if such aid is forthcoming, its efficacy cannot be taken for granted,
for nation states possess very different political systems with varying
abilities to implement and administer security policies. Still, some states,
notably the US, have played an important role in attempts to strengthen
the aviation security system. The US has done so in various ways. Through
the Transport Security Administration (TSA), the US provides technical
assistance to other states and organizations such as the OAS. It also carries
out numerous foreign audits that involve assessing the degree to which
an airport complies with Annex 17 standards. Even though it may not be
legally entitled to do so, objections are seldom raised given the size of the
US market and the ability to refuse entry. When disagreements do arise, it
resorts to negotiated agreements with other countries and organizations
to ensure that its security requirements are met. One such agreement with
the EU, for example, concerned a very delicate subject, the sharing of
passenger information. And, it recently signed an agreement regarding

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28 Air transport security

inflight security with Argentina. The US has long used air marshalls as a
last line of defense against airplane hijackings; now each country will be
able deploy air marshalls on flights between them.39


Despite all the effort, time and money that have been expended over the
years, especially since 9/11, to ensure the security of the global aviation
system, it is clear that though there is no question that it is more secure
today than ever before, many gaps and loopholes remain that can – and
have been – exploited by terrorists. A totally secure system can never
be achieved given its global character, the different levels of resources,
capabilities, and interests of individual states, the complexities of the poli-
cymaking systems involved and the ability of terrorists to develop innova-
tive modes of attack. Still, various steps can be taken by policy­makers at
different levels to help minimize existing deficiencies.
To do so it is necessary, as is the case when dealing with any problem, to
begin by defining it precisely. Yet, as noted above, an agreed-upon defini-
tion of terrorism remains elusive. Nevertheless, tackling the admittedly
difficult task of reaching agreement could yield an outcome that would
strengthen the international legal regime.40 Despite the obvious difficulties
that have dogged such efforts for decades, it might be possible to at least
make a start if certain basic principles were kept in mind. Almost all defini-
tions focus on the nature of the target – to cause harm to innocent civilians
– but such a broad definition is inevitably self-defeating for it encompasses
a very wide range of groups. Thus, though one must not overlook the
human costs involved, it is important to remember that killing civilians is
a tactic used by terrorists to achieve their goals and that it is necessary to
differentiate among them on the basis of such factors as the international
dimension involved and the ends they seek.
It is also necessary to differentiate between reactive and proactive
approaches to security policy and to recognize that existing policymaking
relies on the former. Following 9/11, efforts to strengthen aviation security
have followed successful or failed terrorist attacks and sought to prevent
their repetition. Richard Reid, the ‘shoe bomber’ attempted to blow up
a Paris to Miami flight, so the US issued rules that require passengers to
remove their shoes for screening, a precaution that has not been universally
accepted, Similarly, following another failed terrorist effort that sought to
use liquid explosives in 2006, new rules were adopted by the US, the EU
and ICAO that restrict the ability of passengers to carry liquids, aerosols
and gels onto a plane. Though such reactions may prevent a similar attack,

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The policy dimensions of air transport security ­29

they represent an approach that is fundamentally flawed, for the history of

terrorism reveals that those planning attacks analyze the existing security
measures and develop new, innovative techniques. Thus, a new paradigm,
is required, one that is proactive, that seeks to anticipate and prepares to
deal with unexpected threats and challenges. In order to do so, it is essential
to move towards a more integrated approach, one that is based clearly on
the two basic elements of public policy – the issues and the tools to be used
to deal with each. After the potential risks have been identified, it is neces-
sary it identify appropriate security measures to deal with each.
Any effective counter terrorism strategy is ultimately dependent upon
effective intelligence. Essentially three basic dimensions are involved,
gathering information, analyzing it and sharing the results. Since numer-
ous police and intelligence agencies are involved nationally, regionally and
internationally, effective cooperation is essential, but this remains more a
goal to be achieved than a reality. The recent terrorist attacks in Europe
have, tragically, revealed the degree to which this is a particular problem in
the EU with its numerous regional and national agencies, many of which
remain narrowly focused.
The need for cooperation extends well beyond the world of intelligence
for it is widely accepted that no single state or even groups of states can
ensure that the passenger and cargo aviation systems function securely. Yet
it is unfortunately obvious that the existing arrangements for international
cooperation still possess various weaknesses, notably the unwillingness
or inability by some states to impose or adhere to high quality sanctions.
Though ICAO plays an important role, primarily in establishing rules,
unlike the EU it possesses no enforcement mechanism. And, as we have
seen, even the EU’s enforcement mechanism does not always work effect­
ively. How to deal with this fundamental problem remains a challenging
priority. There is no bigger issue confronting aviation security today than
how to ensure that appropriate standards – proactive standards – ­regarding
the many elements of aviation security be implemented and maintained
globally. All the available tools ranging from sanctions to increased tech­
nical and financial assistance must be utilized in order to achieve this goal.
Doing so requires political will and the commitment of the many actors
involved in aviation, especially the major players. Hopefully, the EU and
its allies, including the US, will assume the leadership in such an effort
and help ensure that ICAO possesses all necessary resources to deal with
such problems as establishing uniform technology security standards and
enhancing the security capabilities of many developing countries.
Achieving a global system wherein all states implement, administer and
maintain an appropriate security level is clearly a demanding goal. It will
require wise diplomacy that builds on existing alliances and relationships

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30 Air transport security

and recognizes the socio-economic concerns and the political realities that
must be dealt with. Yet this is the challenge that must be met if this vital
sector is to continue to enable ever growing numbers of people and goods
to flow smoothly within and between states, an obvious imperative for the
wellbeing of peoples everywhere.

 1. See Joseph S. Szyliowicz, Luca Zamparini, G.L.L. Reniers, and D.L. Rhoades,
Multimodal Transport Security, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016.
 2. Brian Slack, Theo Notteboom, and Jean-Paul Rodrigue, ‘The Nature of Transport
Policy’, p. 1.
  3. Ibid, pp. 2–3.
  4. Ibid, p. 5.
  5. Australian Government, ‘Flight Path to the Future’, National Aviation Policy, White
Paper, December 2009.
  6. Ibid, p. 2.
  7. Ibid, p. 6.
  9. Bart Elias, David R. Peterman, and John Frittelli, ‘Transportation Security Issues for
the 114th Congress’ Congressional Research Service, May 9, 2016.
11. Denise Marois, ‘Congress Ramps Up for Fight on Aviation Issues’, Aviation Daily,
January 21, 2004.
12. Paul S. Dempsey, ‘Aviation Security: The Role of Law in the War Against Terrorism’,
Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 41, No. 3, 2003, pp. 658–61.
14. Dempsey, supra n. 12, pp. 675–9.
15. Study on the Legal Situation Regarding Security of Flights from Third-countries to the
EU, Final Report. November 2010, pp. 4ff.
16. Alejandro Piera and Michael Gill, ‘Will the New ICAO- Beijing Instruments Build a
Chinese Wall for International Aviation Security’, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational
Law, January 2014, Vol. 47, pp. 218–37.
17. Dempsey, supra n. 12, p. 649.
20. Michael Milde, International Air Law and ICAO, Eleven International Publishing, 2008,
cited in Standards and Recommended Practices, Wikipedia.
21. Ruwantissa Abeyratne, Aviation Security Law, Springer, 2010, p. 205.
22. Brian Day, ‘Gaps in Global Effectiveness’,​
23. Inez Braber, ‘The Thorny Nature of a Terrorism Definition in International Law’, IUP
Journal of International Relations, Vol. X, No. 1, January 2016, pp. 40–55, at p. 40.
24. Abeyratne, supra n. 21, pp. 319–21.
27. Ibid.

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The policy dimensions of air transport security ­31

28. Jamie Dettmer, ‘Fears Mount over European Air Security’, May 21, 2016, p. 1. http://
29. Ibid, p. 2.
30. ‘Aviation Security Compromised: Norway Fails to Do Background Checks on 3rd Country
Nationals’, 14 November 2016.
33. Ibid.
35. ‘European Scrutiny Committee Recommends Urgent Debate on Aviation Security’. https://​
36. Cathy Buyck, ‘EU Experts Wary of Pushing Airport Security Measures’, Aviation Week
& Space Technology, March 31, 2016, p. 30.
38. Karina Guthriez, ‘South Pacific Civil Aviation Safety and Security through Regionalism:
New Initiatives for the Pacific Aviation Safety’, Office Journal of Policing, Intelligence
and Counter Terrorism, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2010, pp. 58–73.
40. Abeyratne, supra n. 21, pp. 318–19.

SZYLIOWICZ 9781786435194 PRINT.indd 31 25/07/2018 10:56

Economic issues in air transport
Luca Zamparini


During the last century, air transport has become a pivotal industry for
the development of world trade and of other industries (i.e. tourism)
that require the national, international and intercontinental movement of
passengers and of goods. One essential requirement for the growth of air
transport for freight and persons is definitely represented by a high degree
of security. The economic consequences of terrorist acts related to air
transportation go beyond the single industry and have a vast resonance
also in the long term.1 Moreover, the network characteristics of aviation
imply that the system is secure as its weakest link (Coughlin et al., 2002;
Motevalli and Stough, 2004). This is a clear example of network external­
ities that require high standards of security at all links and nodes in the air
transport network in order to avoid extreme consequences. It must also be
taken into account that the public consideration of security is not based
on actual statistics but rather on the perception of security that is com-
monly diffused. People have the tendency to consider air travel many times
riskier than the evidence should support (Boksberger et al., 2007). The
economic literature that considered risk in civil aviation was traditionally
related to the safety issue. Some of the works (see, among others, Janic,
2000) discussed also some security issues while assessing the risks related
to safety in air transport. The situation has dramatically changed after
the tragic events of September 11. Since then, many theoretical and, in
some cases empirical, researches have been devoted to assessing risk on the
basis of security and providing economic models that try and optimize the
provision of security in this industry. This chapter aims at providing a brief
review of the economics literature on air transport security by considering
the various dimensions that have to be tackled in order to reach an optimal
level of security procurement. Moreover, it will discuss the models that
have been proposed to analyse airport security screening. This appears to
be the topic that has attracted the largest share of the relevant literature.


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Economic issues in air transport security ­33

The chapter is structured as follows. The next section will discuss the
importance of considering the positive externalities generated by aviation
security in order to provide an optimal social level of security. Section 3.3
will provide a brief discussion of the assessment of risk in aviation security
and its related costs. Section 3.4 will propose a model to estimate the net
benefit of aviation security. Section 3.5 will concentrate on the models of
airport security screening. Section 3.6 will conclude.


Coherent with basic economic theory, air transport security is a service

whose optimal quantity and price depend on the intersection of the supply
and demand curve (Coughlin et al., 2002). If we assume, as was the case
before 9/11, that security must be supplied by aviation firms and that it
is demanded by consumers of aviation services, we can consider that the
supply curve has a positive slope while the demand curve has a negative
slope. The latter can represent the marginal private benefits of security and
the consequent decrease in demand as long as the price increases. On the
other hand, the positive slope of the supply curve relates to the increase
in per unit costs as the quantity of provided security increases. The equi-
librium level (E) of the private market for security is shown at point Ep in
Figure 3.1, where private demand for security (Dp) and private supply of
security (Sp) intersect. This equilibrium determines a private optimal price
for security (Pp) and optimal private quantity of security (Qp).
It is important to consider that a good amount of security does not only
benefit air passengers, freight forwarders, airlines and the other economic
actors that are directly involved in the aviation industry. It also generates
positive spillovers (externalities) in the overall economic system. This refers,
among others, to higher degrees of security for people living in the proxim-
ity of airports or in buildings/cities that may be the target of terrorist acts.
Consequently, the social value of security diverges positively from the
private one. This determines a social demand of security (Ds) that lies to
the right of private demand. The intersection between social demand and
private supply of security determines a new equilibrium (Es) that implies
both a higher price (Ps) and a higher quantity (Qs) of security. However,
private markets will adhere to the private equilibrium level and will then
provide an insufficient amount of security from a social viewpoint. It is
then important that the public authorities intervene in order to achieve the
social optimum level. This may lead to either regulations or decrees that

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34 Air transport security









Figure 3.1  Private and public equilibrium levels of security

force individuals to pay a higher price for security. In this case, ES1 will be
reached. Alternatively, the government may provide subsidies to the firms
supplying security. This would shift the supply curve downward and it
would generate the ES2 characterised by a lower price with respect to the
private equilibrium one and a higher quantity (Qs). The conjoint adoption
of government regulations and of subsidies that shift both the demand and
the supply curve leads to the maximum amount of security. Some authors
(i.e. Coughlin et al., 2002) have argued that this level of security may be
excessive. This may be related to the fact that too much security may impact
on the seamless movements of passengers and freight, with the consequent
negative externalities. We may, for example, assume that more intensive
screening for explosives and for prohibited or potential weapons may cause
longer waiting time or more personal inconveniences to travellers that may
react with a reduction of airline tickets demand with the consequent loss of
revenues for airlines (Seidenstat, 2004). It is then important that the public
administrations, but also the private firms, in charge of security compare
the potential benefits and positive externalities of a higher degree of secu-
rity (i.e. value of aircrafts, lives saved and also the perception of security

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Economic issues in air transport security ­35

of society at large) with the related direct costs and negative externalities.
However, it should also be taken into account that the last decades have
witnessed the passage from a point-to-point aviation system to the hub-
and-spoke structure. A terrorist act in any part of the system, and especially
in one hub, determines disruptions and negative externalities in all parts
of the network. These should be computed in any exercise aiming at the
determination of the optimal level of aviation security.
The analysis that was carried out in this section is relevant to understand
the fact that, since few bombings and hijackings had characterised the two
decades before September 11, the positive externalities of security were
underestimated and most of the required financing was to be made by
airlines and airports. These economic agents were more interested in keep-
ing fares low in order to attract ever more passengers and to contain costs
in order to maximize profits. Moreover, given the low occurrence of terror
episodes in aviation (Janic, 2000), several public administrations consid-
ered that the transfer of resources from other more dangerous transport
modes or from other sectors (i.e. health care) would even increase the cost
for society in terms of casualties and deaths. In this benefit-cost analysis,
the lack of consideration of broad benefits (externalities) for the overall
population led to an insufficient provision of security (Qp in Figure 3.1). It
is also arguable that, after September 11, the emphasis on aviation security
has led to a level of service (QMAX) that is considered by some as excessive
with respect to the social optimum (QS).
The present section has conducted a joint analysis of costs and benefits
of aviation security. The next one will provide a discussion of the method-
ologies to assess risk in civil aviation.


A seminal paper by Sage and White (1980) determined that there are
four types of societal risks that have to be considered in models dealing
with the assessment of risk: (1) perceived risk (the one that is intuitively
felt and perceived by individuals); (2) real risk (determined on the basis
of the expected outcome of future acts of terrorism); (3) statistical risk
(quantified on the basis of available data on the episodes that have
occurred in the past); and (4) predicted risk (analytically estimated by
quantitative models that take into account relevant studies and past data).
Consequently, risk assessment should be divided into three sub-tasks that
involve risk determination, risk evaluation and risk measurement. The
first one implies the estimation of risk parameters, the probability of

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36 Air transport security

occurrence of risky events and the consequences of their outcome. Risk

evaluation considers the risk aversion and risk acceptance of individuals
and of society. Lastly, risk measurement involves its quantification on the
basis, for example, of the expected number of accidents per unit of output.
The quantification of the risk assessment has then to be divided in the fol-
lowing stages (Tamasi and Demichela, 2011): (1) threat assessment, aiming
at detecting the presence and number of hostile people in a determined
nation and at evaluating the general threat level in the nation and the
particular one near airports; (2) vulnerability assessment, i.e. the analysis
of the importance of airports in the aviation network and the evaluation of
the degree of protection for critical infrastructures and of the accessibility
and vulnerability levels; and (3) criticality assessment, i.e. the analysis of
the potential scenarios consequent to a successful terrorist act, of the costs
to restore the critical targets and of the missed indirect incomes related to
the closure of terrorist targets.


The discussion that was carried out in Sections 3.2 and 3.3 allows us
to consider the net benefits that are determined by aviation security.
Stewart and Mueller (2013) have proposed a model to estimate the net
benefit of providing aviation security which is summarised in the following

Net Benefit = pattack * Closs * Rrisk – Csecurity(3.1)

where pattack is the probability that a successful terrorist act would take
place if the security measure is not adopted. Closs is the overall cost as a
result of a successful terrorist act. This includes both the direct costs and
fatalities and the local and international negative externalities. Rrisk is the
reduction of risk that the security measure determines by deterring, foiling
or protecting against a terrorist attack. Lastly, Csecurity is the cost that is
necessary to provide the risk reducing measure that allows to obtain the
expected private and social benefit. From an economic viewpoint, a secur­
ity measure is considered as efficient in the cases in which the net benefit
is positive. Consequently, the security measure should be implemented as
long as its marginal (social) benefit is higher than its marginal cost. This
leads to determine that the optimal level of security is achieved when the
marginal benefit is equal to the marginal cost as is shown in the following
Figure 3.2. We are assuming, coherently with the related literature (see,
among others, Seidenstat, 2004) that the marginal cost curve (MC) has a

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Economic issues in air transport security ­37


Currency units


S* S100

Figure 3.2  Optimal level of security

positive and convex shape. This means the possibility to increase the suc-
cess rate of the security measure as an increasing marginal cost. It is then
less costly to pass from a 70 per cent to an 80 per cent success rate than to
pass from an 80 per cent to a 90 per cent success rate. On the other hand,
the marginal benefit curve (MB) has a negative slope given that the prob-
ability of a disaster occurring would likely decline with the enhancement
of security.
An important conclusion can be obtained from Figure 3.2. Although
theoretically possible, a 100 per cent degree of security (S100) would imply
massive economic losses that the society may not be eager to incur. The
optimal level of security (S*) is then normally set to a standard which
is below this full security level. Aviation risks can be minimized but it is
virtually impossible to eliminate them.
The model can be used to estimate the effect of several measures related
to aviation security that can be grouped into three main subsets. The
first is related to pre-boarding security and it encompasses intelligence,
international partnerships, border protection, joint terrorism task forces,
no-fly lists and passenger pre-screening, crew vetting, behavioural detec-
tion officers, travel document checker, checkpoints, transportation security
inspectors and random employee screening. The second subset attains the
prevention of hijacking and it can be constituted by passenger resistance,
trained flight crew, law enforcement officers and air marshal services. The
last set of measures refers to the prevention of the commandeering of
the airliner through hardened cockpit doors, installed physical secondary
barriers or flight deck officers.

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38 Air transport security

A different model to analyse the net benefits in aviation security has

been proposed by Gillen and Morrison (2015) by taking into account the
intertemporal cost benefit analysis. They assume that every project aiming
at increasing aviation security will yield a stream of economic benefits and
costs over time. The net present value (V) of these benefits and costs is
given by the following relation:

T Bt 2Ct
(11 r) t

where B represents the benefits that the community may obtain in each
determined period (year) in terms of the difference in probability of a
terrorist attack between the scenario that considers the implementation of
the security measure and the one that neglects it times the overall economic
damage caused by a terrorist act. C represents the costs incurred to create
the security measure and to implement it in each time period. r is the real
interest rate that allows to discount future benefits and costs with respect
to the current period. Any determined security project will be economically
viable only if V is positive.
The productive efficiency of any security measure (i.e. the possibility for V
to be positive) clearly depends on the level of technology and innovation. The
model proposed by Gillen and Morrison allows us to analyse and evaluate the
adoption of new technologies and their interactions with security officers.
In this case, several measurement problems arise. Moreover, various issues
should be carefully estimated. First, some machines emitting radiation may
harm the passengers that are required to pass through it. Secondly, the use of
technology may impact on the privacy of individuals that may be exposed to
unreasonable searches.2 Thirdly, the adoption of screening machines raises
issues related to the necessary space and to the amount of time that is needed
to perform security checks of all passengers accessing the airside areas of
airports. The following section of this chapter will discuss this issue in detail
by presenting the main economic contributions in the field.


One measure of aviation security that impacts on passenger satisfaction

and costs in terms of time and inconvenience is clearly passenger screen-
ing. Screening procedures imply early arrival to the airport, the possibility
of experiencing long delays, the psychological discomfort to be exposed to
such procedures and, in some extreme cases, the possibility to lose a flight

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Economic issues in air transport security ­39

or to have a consistent flight delay due to the airport closure. As noted by

Kirschenbaum et al. (2012) this may generate contrasts and communica-
tion disruptions among the various stakeholders involved in the organiza-
tional structure of airports. To the best of our knowledge, it appears that
the analysis of airport screening is the topic that has originated the largest
share of literature that has tried to elaborate various models to optimize it.
Gkritza et al. (2006) have proposed a model that tries to estimate pas-
senger satisfaction on the basis of a set of measurable characteristics of
passengers related to gender, age, schooling level, income and to some
specific airline and flight variables (i.e. economy, business or first class
ticket or airline ticket restrictions). Contrary to what is normally perceived,
their analysis shows that many more factors than waiting time have an
important impact on the degree of satisfaction of consumers.
Yoo and Choi (2006) have used the analytic hierarchy process method­
ology to try and assess the relative importance of the procedures to
upgrade passenger security checks at airports. Unsurprisingly, it has
emerged that the two most important issues that influence the performance
of the security personnel at airports are the quantity and quality of screen-
ing personnel. Consequently, training and education both before and after
hiring are of the utmost relevance to provide the desired level of security.
Moreover, it appears that the procedures/responsibilities factors are more
important than the equipment/facilities ones.
Olapiriyakul and Das (2007) proposed a model of a two-stage security
screening and inspection system. According to this model, each inspection
stage is characterised by two parameters: the accuracy rate (i.e. the percent-
age of entities that are correctly inspected and cleared) and the amount of
time that is necessary to deploy a security inspection on each arriving pas-
senger. The necessity to divide the security inspection in two stages is due to
the fact that there is the possibility to have false positives, whenever a non-
malicious good is not cleared at the first inspection even though it should
be. This is a necessary condition in order to guarantee that false negatives
are zero. The second stage solves this problem and it requires more stringent
and time-consuming searches that aim at obtaining a 100 per cent accuracy
rate. The provision of an efficient inspection system has the objective to
minimize the total cost that is equal to the following relation:

Total Cost = CwgWE 1 C1S1 1 C2S2(3.3)

where Cw is the unit waiting time cost, g is the number of passengers arriv-
ing at the inspection system, WE is the average waiting time, C1 and C2 are
the inspection costs at stage 1 (S1) and at stage 2 (S2). The ­optimization
requires that stage 1 be characterised by a higher service rate and a

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40 Air transport security

relatively lower accuracy with respect to stage 2, in order to minimize the

waiting costs for passengers. Leone and Liu (2011) have elaborated on the
model proposed by Olapiriyakul and Das (2007) by considering the pos-
sibility to have different types of inspection methods (i.e. X-ray scanning
and chemical trace) in order to optimize a queueing model that should
accommodate for both security and efficiency of the service.
Two papers have considered the possibility to group passengers either
under constant threat probability (Lazar Babu et al., 2006) or with dif-
ferent risk levels (Nie et al., 2009). Lazar Babu et al. (2006) suggest that it
would be possible to divide passengers according to four different categor­
ies. Each different category will be subject to distinct checks at peculiar
check stations. This would help to avoid a thorough check strategy for all
passengers accessing an airport, which would determine a huge cost in
terms of efficiency of operations. An important conclusion of the model is
that the grouping strategy is a function of the overall level of threat. This
can be useful to provide a flexible model according to a general level of
alarm that is set by the competent authorities. Another important finding
of the model lies in the consideration that the grouping strategy is also a
function of the level of technology that is available.3 A weak point of the
model is that it considers all passengers posing the same level of alert. No
specific characteristic of a single passenger is considered and so passengers
are assigned at random to each particular check strategy. A following
paper by Nie et al. (2009) has suggested an extension of the previous model
by incorporating the possibility to rank passengers according to several
different risk levels that are assigned through a pre-screening activity.
The conclusion of this model is that the screening process becomes more
efficient and the possibility of a false alarm is minimized. Moreover, the
overall cost to perform the screening process (in terms of the number of
people and of machinery needed) is reduced. The reduction of costs is
an important economic issue in aviation security given that it is normally
charged to passengers. A paper by Oum and Fu (2007) has analysed the
possible implications of two different schemes. The first one is based on
flat per-passenger charge while the other considers an ad valorem user
charge (where the charge for security is proportional to the value of the
purchased ticket). It has emerged that the latter pricing scheme provides a
higher level of social welfare in almost all situations.


The present chapter has provided a brief introduction of the most relevant
economic issues that pertain to aviation security. It has emerged that a

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Economic issues in air transport security ­41

good amount of security does not only benefit air passengers, freight for-
warders, airlines and the other economic actors that are directly involved
in the aviation industry. It also generates positive spillovers (externalities)
in the overall economic system.
On the other hand, it appears that too much security may impact on the
seamless movements of passengers and freight, with the consequent nega-
tive externalities. Although theoretically possible, a 100 per cent degree of
security is not viable from an economic viewpoint given that it would imply
relevant economic losses that the society may not be eager to incur. The
optimal level of security is then normally set to standards which are below
this full security level. Such standards are then modified according to the
perceived risk after the occurrence of momentous events.
A topic that has been vastly investigated by the literature is the optimiza-
tion of airport security screening. Various models have been proposed and
all of them consider the trade-off between higher security and seamless
transport. The two lines of research that seem to prevail consider that it is
important to group passengers according to the degree of risk or to segment
airpost checks in two stages: the first one privileging efficiency and speed
and the second one aiming at full accuracy. It would be important that other
issues pertaining to aviation security receive more attention in the literature.


1. For a discussion of several instances, see the chapters in Part II of this book.
2. As Chapter 10 on aviation security in Israel will discuss, the degree of tolerance to
thorough search and investigation depends on the perceived threat by individuals.
3. For a more extended discussion of the role of technology on security screening, see
Chapter 5.


Boksberger, P.E., T. Bieger and C. Laesser (2007), ‘Multidimensional analysis of

perceived risk in commercial air travel’, Journal of Air Transport Management,
13, 90–96.
Coughlin, C.C., J.P. Cohen and S.R. Khan (2002), ‘Aviation security and terrorism:
A review of the economic issues’, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  Review,
September/October 2002, 9–25.
Gillen, D. and W.G. Morrison (2015), ‘Aviation security: Costing, pricing, finance
and performance’, Journal of Air Transport Management, 48, 1–12.
Gkritza, K., D. Niemeier and F. Mannering (2006), ‘Airport security screening
and changing passenger satisfaction: An exploratory assessment’, Journal of Air
Transport Management, 12, 213–19.

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42 Air transport security

Janic, M. (2000), ‘An assessment of risk and safety in civil aviation’, Journal of Air
Transport Management, 6, 43–50.
Kirschenbaum, A., M. Mariani, C. Van Gulijk, S. Lubasz and C. Rapaport (2012),
‘Airport security: An ethnographic study’, Journal of Air Transport Management,
18, 68–73.
Lazar Babu, V.L., R. Batta and L. Lin (2006), ‘Passenger grouping under constant
threat probability in an airport security system’, European Journal of Operational
Research, 168, 633–44.
Leone, K. and R. Liu (2011), ‘Improving airport security screening checkpoint oper-
ations in the US via paced system design’, Journal of Air Transport Management,
17, 62–7.
Motevalli, V. and R. Stough (2004), ‘Aviation safety and security; reaching beyond
borders’, Journal of Air Transport Management, 10, 225–6.
Nie, X., R. Batta, C.G. Drury and L. Lin (2009), ‘Passenger grouping with risk levels
in an airport security system’, European Journal of Operational Research, 194,
Olapiriyakul, S. and S. Das (2007), ‘Design and analysis of a two-stage security
screening and inspection system’, Journal of Air Transport Management, 13,
Oum, T.H. and X. Fu (2007), ‘Air transport security user charge pricing: An
investigation of flat per-passenger charge vs. ad valorem user charge schemes’,
Transportation Research Part E, 43, 283–93.
Sage, A.P. and E.B. White (1980), ‘Methodologies for risk and hazard assessment:
A survey and status report’, IEEE Transaction on System, Man and Cybernetics
SCM-10, 425–41.
Seidenstat, P. (2004), ‘Terrorism, airport security, and the private sector’, Review of
Policy Research, 21, 275–91.
Stewart, M.G. and J. Mueller (2013), ‘Terrorism risks and cost-benefit analysis of
aviation security’, Risk Analysis, 33, 893–908.
Tamasi, G. and M. Demichela (2011), ‘Risk assessment techniques for civil aviation
security’, Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 96, 892–9.
Yoo, K.E. and Y.C. Choi (2006), ‘Analytic hierarchy process approach for
­identifying relative importance of factors to improve passenger security checks
at airports’, Journal of Air Transport Management, 12, 135–42.

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International and EU legal
frameworks of aviation security
Francesco Rossi Dal Pozzo



Aviation security is a significant matter with regard to safeguarding basic

passenger rights. Risks and dangers to a safe flight may be of different
nature and origins. Aviation security addresses all those cases in which the
integrity of a flight may be endangered by unlawful acts against civil avi­
ation, whether they be actually committed or merely planned. International
Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 17 to the Convention on
International Civil Aviation enlists, in its Chapter 1, a number of examples
of what can be considered as an act of unlawful interference.
In particular, the chapter states that:

These are acts or attempted acts such as to jeopardize the safety of civil avi­
ation, including but not limited to: unlawful seizure of aircraft, destruction
of an aircraft in service, hostage-taking on board aircraft or on aerodromes,
forcible intrusion on board an aircraft, at an airport or on the premises of an
aeronautical facility, introduction on board an aircraft or at an airport of a
weapon or hazardous device or material intended for criminal purposes, use of
an aircraft in service for the purpose of causing death, serious bodily injury, or
serious damage to property or the environment, communication of false infor-
mation such as to jeopardize the safety of an aircraft in flight or on the ground,
of passengers, crew, ground personnel or the general public, at an airport or on
the premises of a civil aviation facility.

In view of the strongly international nature of air transport and travel and
of the fact that any unlawful act would affect the interests of a number
of states, it is fundamental that a common legal framework be prepared
at an international level aiming at detecting and preventing such criminal
activities (Camarda, 1976, p. 152).
The need for concrete initiatives designed to prevent these acts of
­unlawful interference is generally dated back to the 1960s, when in-flight
aircrafts commenced to be hijacked by politically motivated groups or


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44 Air transport security

individuals with mental issues. As an example of these hijackings it is easy

to mention what happened on 19 July 1960, when Trans Australia Airlines
Flight 408 was hijacked by a man who threatened to blow out the airplane.
The occurrence resulted in no damage to the aircraft and the people on
board since he was successfully disarmed by a member of the crew and a
In response to these events, the international community adopted
the first instrument to prevent acts of unlawful interference, the Tokyo
Convention of 1963. This Convention is applicable to unlawful activities
and acts carried out on board aircraft, provided that the latter is registered
in one of the signatory states and is flying over a region that is not under
the sovereignty of any state or over international waters. This instrument,
for the first time, provided for obligations for the states in the repression
of unlawful acts, although not exhaustively. Jurisdiction on criminal acts
committed aboard aircraft is solely that of the State of Registry. A differ-
ent state may exercise jurisdiction only in the case of a link between the
latter and the crime committed. The discretion enjoyed by signatory states
in defining unlawful conduct entailed several problems in the application
of the Convention.
Less than a decade later, a new series of attacks towards civil aviation
spotlighted the phenomenon to the international community’s attention.
On 21 February 1970, Swissair Flight 330 crashed in the woods near
Zurich, nine minutes after take-off, due to the detonation of a bomb on
board. In this event, all 47 people on board lost their lives. Little more
than a month later, Japan Airlines Flight 351, with 149 people on board,
was hijacked by terrorists belonging to the political group ‘Japanese Red
Army’. Luckily all hostages were released unharmed.
The Community reacted, in June of the same year, by calling an
extraordinary assembly (the 17th Session of the ICAO Assembly, held in
Montreal from 16 to 30 June 1970) at the initiative of Switzerland. The
Assembly agreed that the adoption of an annex to the Chicago Convention
on Security was strongly desirable. This action was required since unlawful
acts at the time in which the Chicago Convention had been signed were not
perceived as a real threat to the safe and secure operations of flights.
Only a few months after this meeting, one of the most spectacular
hijackings in the history of world aviation took place: the ‘Dawson’s Field’
hijackings, in which 310 people were taken hostage. On 6 September 1970,
armed groups of the ‘Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’ simul-
taneously hijacked four aircraft: El Al Israel Airlines Flight 219, TWA
Flight 714, Swissair Flight 100 and Pan Am Flight 93. On 9 September,
a fifth aircraft, operating BOAC Flight 775, was also hijacked. All five
aircraft were made to land at Dawson’s Field in Jordan. The terrorist

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International and EU legal frameworks of aviation security ­45

attack came to a conclusion the following fortnight, with the freeing of all
the hostages, although the aircraft were destroyed with explosives on 12
Following this incredible event, a new decisive response was required. To
this end, two additional conventions were ratified: The Hague Convention
of 16 December 1970 (which came into force the following year, on 14
October 1971), for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft,
and the Montreal Convention (which was adopted at the International
Conference on Air Law, in Montreal, on 23 September 1971 and came
into force on 26 January 1973) for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts
against the Safety of Civil Aviation. In addition, to reaffirm the need to
take strong actions aimed at coping with this new emerging threat, these
two conventions managed to overcome many of the problems relating to
implementation arising from the adoption of the first Convention in 1963.
In particular, the Hague Convention widened the possibility of exercising
jurisdiction for more signatory states, making more uniform the concept
of unlawful acts against air navigation safety. The Montreal Convention
of 1971 then further widened this notion, also covering activities that are
likely to threaten civil aviation and being an accomplice in said unlawful
activities. On 22 March 1974, four years after the ‘Dawson’s Field’ event,
ICAO adopted, pursuant to Article 37 of the Chicago Convention, its
17th Annex, entitled ‘Safeguarding International Civil Aviation against
Acts of Unlawful Interference’, which came into force on 27 February
1975, and which provided for the adoption of security systems aboard
and inside aircrafts to ensure an effective safeguard of passengers, crew,
ground personnel and the general public in airport areas, to be followed
by signatory states. Moreover, to balance out the Annex, Document 8973
‘Security Manual for Safeguarding against Acts of Unlawful Interference’
was also adopted to provide precise guidelines on the implementation of
the Standards and Recommended Practices to the states.
Besides Annex 17 and Document 8973, additional provisions concern-
ing aviation security, aiming at regulating specific operational aspects and
measures to be adopted for a more effective response to and prevention
of unlawful acts in air transport are also present in further Annexes to the
Chicago Convention (Dobelle, 2008, p. 65).
The adoption of these measures, however, has not succeeded to prevent
the occurrence of further acts of unlawful interference on passenger planes
in the decades that followed.
Among the most notorious is the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight
103 on 21 December 1988 over Lockerbie in southwest Scotland. At
around 7 p.m. the airplane flickered off the radar tracking and then fell to
the ground, broken in three pieces, about two minutes later, killing all 259

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46 Air transport security

people on board and 11 people living in a part of the town destroyed by the
impact of the wing section. Later the cause of the disaster was ascertained
to be an in-flight explosion, caused by a bomb, brought on board the
aircraft inside a piece of luggage in the hold (Schmid, 1993, p. 292 and
Abeyratne, 2013, p. 21).
The Lockerbie tragedy, with its 270 victims, and the Air India 182
disaster, which happened on 23 June 1985, in which 329 lost their lives
due to a bomb explosion in the front cargo hold of the Boeing 747 while it
was still en route to London, were the worst air disasters caused by an act
of unlawful interference in the history of civil aviation, at least until the
beginning of the new century.


On 11 September 2001, four flights operated by the two main American

airlines, after being hijacked almost immediately after take-off were used
as weapons of mass destruction in suicide attacks to strike sensitive US
targets. American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 respect­
ively crashed into Tower 1 and Tower 2 of the New York World Trade
Center at 8.46 and 9.03 a.m. local time while American Airline Flight 77
struck the west section of the Pentagon (Arlington, Virginia) at 9.47 a.m.
The last of the fourth aircraft, United Flight 93 crashed to the ground near
Shanksville in Pennsylvania a few seconds after 10 a.m.: the crash occurred
during the revolt of the passengers who, realising the hijackers’ intentions,
tried in vain to take back control of the aircraft. The most serious terrorist
attack in history, carried out using civil aviation passenger planes, caused
the death of 2,974 people.
In the face of the dramatic and at the same time spectacular nature of
the 9/11 attacks, the international community understood the necessity of
finding, yet again, new measures to avoid tragedies such as this from ever
happening again (9/11 Commission Report).
At the 33rd ICAO Assembly, held between 25 September and 5 October
2001, participating states agreed on the need to review the provisions of
Annex 17 with a view to making them more stringent in order to tackle this
specific new type of threat (before 11 September 2001, civil aviation planes
had never been used as weapons of mass destruction).
With the adoption of Resolution A-33 ‘Declaration on misuse of civil
aircraft as weapons of destruction and other terrorist acts involving civil
aviation’, contracting states stated the necessity of a stronger and closer
cooperation (both in financial and human resources) in ensuring the full

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International and EU legal frameworks of aviation security ­47

transposition and implementation of ICAO security rules within their

systems and also asserted the need to call, as soon as possible, a ‘high-
level ministerial conference on aviation security’ aiming at an update of
ICAO Regulations by the adoption of new Standards and Recommended
Practices (SARPs), the creation of an audit system to verify their degree
of implementation and the provision for suitable measures to fund the
new security mechanisms. This conference was held in Montreal, at ICAO
headquarters, on 19 and 20 February 2002. The conference highlighted the
need to draft an ‘Aviation security plan of action’ and, as part of this, to
design a ‘Universal Security Audit Programme – USAP’ for the strength-
ening of Aviation Security at a global level. These documents stated the
need for states to intensify their implementation of ICAO provisions,
introducing additional security measures commensurate with the type of
threat that they may possibly be facing as well as economic reasons based
on cost-benefit ratio. In this regard, ICAO stressed the necessity for studies
to identify new and possible threats (Abeyratne, 2002, p. 406)
Furthermore, many recommendations giving guidelines on the updating
of already existing SARPs have been adopted, such as the requirement that
the cockpit be suitably locked off to foil any attempted unauthorized intru-
sion, or the organization of ground passenger checking instrumentation.
Such recommendations were laid down in Annexes 1, 6, 9, 11, 14 and 18.
Despite these important measures, which brought significant improve-
ments to the level of security in the aviation sector, more complex and
various attacks towards the civil aviation sector have been committed.
On 9 August 2006, British police arrested 24 people for planning a
high-scale terrorist attack with the detonation of liquid explosives carried
on board airliners travelling from the UK to the US and Canada, disguised
as soft drinks. The plot was discovered by the British police during an
extensive surveillance operation. Yet, on 25 December 2009, in the so-
called ‘Christmas Day bombing attempt’, Northwest Airlines Flight 253
from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Detroit Metropolitan was the target
of a failed al-Qaeda bombing attempt in which a passenger, Umar Farouk
Abdulmutallab, tried to set off plastic explosives in his underwear but
failed to detonate them properly. A Dutch passenger, Jasper Schuringa,
tackled and restrained him and put out the fire with the aid of others. The
attack resulted in no fatalities (Abeyratne, 2010, p. 167 and Harrison, 2009,
p. 137).
In addition to these events, after 9/11, there were others hijack attempts
and successful hijacks around the world, none of these ended with any
fatalities until 29 November 2013. On that day, flight TM470 departed
from Maputo, Mozambique, to Luanda, Angola, and crashed in the
Bwabwata National Park. All occupants of the plane (27 passengers

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48 Air transport security

and six crew member) lost their lives in the accident. The preliminary
investigation appeared to show that the aircraft had been hijacked by the
captain. Yet, on 7 February 2014, Pegasus Airlines flight PC-751 en route
to Istanbul was hijacked by a passenger. The man said he had a bomb on
board and asked to be flown to Sochi (Russia). He was led to believe that
the flight diverted to Sochi. However, the aircraft was escorted by two
Turkish F-16 fighter jets and landed safely, with no injuries or fatalities,
at Istanbul Airport. After 10 days, on 17 February 2014, another flight
(Ethiopian Airlines flight 702 en route to Rome) was hijacked by the co-
pilot. The aircraft and its passengers landed safely at the Geneva Airport
escorted by the Italian and French air force.
Therefore, ICAO’s member states, well aware of the changed conditions
of risks that may condition air transport and the security of air navigation
decided, at the close of the 37th ICAO General Assembly, held in Montreal
between 28 September and 8 October 2010, to adopt the ‘Declaration on
Aviation Security’. The Declaration, recognizing the continuing threat to
civil aviation, stresses the need to foster international cooperation among
the states throughout the enhancement of information collection and
sharing systems, including the sharing of sensitive threat information,
among member states and between concerned entities within states. The
Declaration serves this purpose by emphasizing the collective responsibil-
ity for taking appropriate action to address a worldwide problem. In add­
ition, for the sake of completeness, it is also worth mentioning that on 10
September 2010, just two weeks before the ICAO 37th General Assembly,
the international community adopted two new additional instruments for
an ampler and more efficient fight against the commission of unlawful
acts against and by means of civil aviation. The Beijing Convention and
the Beijing Protocol, as of today not yet in force, extend the number of
acts criminalized and the judicial competence of states. The provisions
in the Convention regulate unlawful behaviour, while the Protocol rules
on cases of unlawful seizure of aircraft. It must be noted, finally, that the
signing of these two new instruments necessarily entails the adaptation of
their national law with the identification of the new crimes and relative
sanctions for signatory states (Abeyratne, 2011, p. 243).
On 22 March and 28 June 2016, just a few years after the Declaration,
a new cornerstone in establishing an effective and pro-active international
legal framework on Aviation Security, two bombing-terminal and suicide
attacks were conducted at two of the most important airports in Europe,
the International Airport of Brussels and the Ataturk International
Airport in Istanbul.1 These two attacks claimed the lives of 77 people,
among terminal employees, passengers, well-wishers and visitors. These
events coupled with the in-flight disintegration of Metrojet flight 9268

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International and EU legal frameworks of aviation security ­49

due to an explosion on board,2 brought the UN to firmly react to this

new wave of terror by reinforcing the states’ commitment embraced in
the 2010 ICAO Declaration. With the adoption of Resolution 2309 of
22 September 2016, the UN Security Council, warning that civil aviation
remains an attractive target for terrorists, called on all states to work
within ICAO to ensure a thorough revision, update and implementation
of the current and new Aviation Security SARPs based on the current
risks and future threats. Yet, the Resolution urges states to ensure cooper­
ation among their domestic departments and agencies, underpinning the
importance of information-sharing, cooperation in capacity-building and
technical assistance.
The recent Resolution A39-18, ‘Consolidated statements of continuing
ICAO policies related to Aviation Security’, adopted by the ICAO Member
States, during the 39th ICAO General Assembly, held in Montreal between
27 September and 7 October 2016, has further recognized the need to
‘consolidate Assembly resolutions on the policies related to safeguarding
of international civil aviation acts of unlawful interference’. The adoption
of this Resolution, mindful of all the above-mentioned measures adopted,
has the main objective to facilitate their implementation and application
by states, making the texts of these instruments more readily available
and logically organized. Yet, with Resolution A39-19, the Assembly has
called upon states and industry stakeholders to take several measures to
address another rising methodology of acts of unlawful interference: the
cyber-attacks. Specifically, the Assembly, recognizing the multi-faceted
and multi-disciplinary nature of cybersecurity, urges states, among others,
to encourage a robust cybersecurity culture throughout all national
security agencies involved and to identify threats and risks from possible
cyber incidents, adopting strategies and best practices, such as a flexible,
risk-based approach and cybersecurity management systems, aimed at
protecting critical aviation systems all around the world.


After the tragic attacks of 11 September 2001, the EU also understood the
importance and the need to adopt a uniform system of Regulations for the
prevention of unlawful acts in civil aviation. Before this date, in fact, each
member state was individually responsible for security legislation relating
to air transport.
On 10 October 2001, a month after the tragic events of New York and
Washington, the Commission, on initiative of the European Parliament,

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50 Air transport security

proposed the adoption of a common Regulation in the field of security.

This proposal resulted in the adoption of Regulation No. (EC) 2320/2002
of 16 December 2002, which was implemented at EU airports from 19
January 2003. This Regulation, no longer in force today, is of fundamental
importance since it made, for the first time, the control procedures on pas-
sengers and their baggage in airport access areas uniform under common
aviation security rules. The first Recital of the preamble to the Regulation,
which states ‘that terrorism is one of the greatest threats to the ideals of
democracy and freedom and the values of peace’, is significant. Since the
latter principles constitute the very essence of the EU, the importance of
this provision is quite clear.
Regulation (EC) No. 2320/2002 was then integrated by Commission
Regulation (EC) No. 622/2003 of 4 April 2003 laying down specific meas-
ures for the implementation of the common basic standards on aviation
Regulation (EC) No. 2320/2003 soon proved to be inadequate as a
result of the complexity of its procedures and the fact that some of the
technical requirements it provided for had a very limited impact on levels
of security while, on the other hand, they made it particularly difficult for
air carriers to carry out routine procedures, especially at small airports.
The Commission also attributed this inadequacy to the speed with which,
in the wake of the events of 11 September 2001, a number of non-binding
recommendations, drawn up by the member states, took the shape of a
piece of legislation which was extremely complex from the point of view
of its implementation.


In 2005, the Commission proposed a new Regulation to replace Regulation

(EC) No. 2320/2002, which aimed at strengthening while at the same time
simplifying and harmonising the procedures provided for in the original
provision (Giemulla, 2011, p. 357). This was prompted, inter alia, by the fact
that in the over 40 unannounced inspections carried out in member states’
airports as from February 2004, serious shortcomings in security systems
were discovered. Three years after this proposal was presented, Regulation
(EC) No. 300/2008 was adopted. The new regulation underwent a rather
tortuous legislative procedure because of the widely diverging positions
among the EU institutions so much so that it required a decision by the
Conciliation Committee under the co-decision procedure under Article
251 TEC (now Article 294 TFEU), which delivered its decision on 11

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International and EU legal frameworks of aviation security ­51

January 2008. This was followed by the Council’s decision at third reading
on 4 March 2008 and of the European Parliament on 11 March 2008.
Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008 achieved its full effectiveness from 29
April 2010, with the exception of Article 4 (procedure for the common
basic standards not foreseen at the entry into force of the Regulation
and the amendment of non-essential elements of the common basic
standards), Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4, Article 8 (cooperation with the ICAO),
Article 11 (procedure for the modification of national quality control pro-
grammes), Paragraph 2, Article 15 (Commission inspections), Paragraph
1, second subparagraph, Article 17 (Stakeholders’ Advisory Group),
Article 19 (Committee procedure), and Article 22 (Commission report on
financing), which were implemented with effect from the publication of
the Regulation.
In general terms, while Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008 restricts itself
to determining only general rules to which all interventions aiming at
preventing unlawful acts are subject, without specifying the technical and
procedural details related to their practical execution, leaving technical and
procedural methods to implementation measures, it nonetheless corrected
a few operational problems which had arisen in the application of the
preceding regulation. Thus, Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008 takes account
of and provides for the need to ensure greater flexibility in the adoption of
security measures and procedures so as to take into consideration changes
in the assessment of risks and enable the introduction of new technologies
in a timely fashion.
In other words, the declared aim of the Regulation is to clarify, simplify
and further harmonize legislative provisions to reinforce civil aviation
security as a whole.
What Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008 does, as for that matter Regulation
(EC) No. 2320/2002 did, is to provide, in the Annex referred to by Article
4(1) or its subsequent amendments, the basic common rules for the protec-
tion of civil aviation from acts of unlawful interference that endanger its
safety. However, it leaves to the Commission the task of establishing both
the means of incorporating and applying common rules and the criteria
that allow member states to derogate from those rules and adopt alternative
security measures to ensure an adequate level of protection on the basis of
local risk assessment, which it may do by modifying the Regulation with a
decision adopted according to the regulatory procedure under Article 5 of
the Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999.
In this regard, the Commission, under Article 4(4) of Regulation (EC)
No. 300/2008, may lay down, by a decision adopted according to the pro-
cedure under Article 19(3), the criteria allowing member states to derogate
from common basic standards and adopt alternative security measures

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52 Air transport security

that provide an adequate level of protection on the basis of a specific risk

assessment, provided such alternative measures are justified by reasons
relating to the size of the aircraft, or by reasons relating to the nature,
scale or frequency of operations or of other relevant activities. This allows,
especially in small airports where the number of flights is limited, the appli-
cation of less stringent measures than those prescribed by the Regulation,
provided that an adequate level of security is ensured. Regarding this
aspect, it is also necessary to remember that small airports intended for
general aviation mean those with an annual average of not more than two
daily commercial flights with a commercial activity limited to aircraft with
a Maximum Take-off Weight (MTOW) of less than 10 tonnes, or seating
less than 20. This derogation should, however, be applicable to commercial
airports, although of large dimensions, having separate facilities for small
aircraft, as above described. In other terms, areas of large airports, des-
tined to traffic limited by the number and size of aircraft are, to all intents
and purposes, equated with small, independent airports.
This amendment, which takes account of the objective difficulties
encountered by some airports in complying with stringent security meas-
ures, includes some aspects set out in the preamble to Regulation (EC)
No. 2320/2002, in particular Recital 14, which, as already mentioned, is
informed by the principle of proportionality, and at the same time removes
some of the ambiguity of Article 4(3) of that Regulation, the implementa-
tion of which has given rise to many interpretative doubts. Article 4(3)
entrusted the competent national authorities with the adoption of national
security measures for the provision of an adequate level of protection at
airports on the basis of local risk assessment, and ‘where the application
of the security measures specified in the Annex to this Regulation may
be disproportionate, or where they cannot be implemented for objective
practical reasons’ (Barros, 2012, p. 53).
Although the measures allowing derogation from the basic common
standards are established by the new Regulation at EU level, member
states may nevertheless adopt more stringent measures, provided they
are relevant, objective, and non-discriminatory and proportionate to the
local risk. In this case, member states have an obligation to inform the
Commission even when the measures adopted are limited to one specific
flight on a particular day.
One of the most important innovations in Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008
is to be found in Article 7, which concerns the controversial issue of
­security measures in third countries compared with those in the EU.
In that respect, Regulation (EC) No. 2320/2002 merely laid down a
procedure to be followed, according to which the Commission, assisted
by the Committee for Security, should take into consideration, together

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International and EU legal frameworks of aviation security ­53

with the ICAO and the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), the
possibility of developing a mechanism to evaluate the meeting of security
requirements of flights coming from third-country airports.
The new Regulation introduces a procedure where each member state
must notify the Commission of the measures prescribed by a third country
whenever they differ from the common basic rules with regard to flights
departing from an airport in a member state to, or over, said third country.
The Commission, subsequently, must ‘draw up an appropriate response to
the third country concerned’. The Commission’s involvement is not neces-
sary when the member states have adopted more stringent measures than
the common basic standards, or the requirement of the third country is
limited to a given flight on a specific date. The Commission, moreover, has
the power to conclude agreements recognizing that the security standards
applied in a third country are equivalent to Community standards in order
to advance the goal of ‘one-stop security’ for passengers, luggage and
cargo on all flights in transit at EU airports.
Other provisions in Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008 are just as interest-
ing. As well as the national programme for civil aviation safety, a rule on
national programmes for quality control is also provided for (Article 11),
the aim of which is to enable member states to check the level of security
of civil aviation and identify and swiftly correct any deficiencies. In the
context of national quality control programmes, all airports, operators and
entities responsible for the implementation of aviation security standards
that are located in the territory of the member state concerned are to be
regularly monitored.
A specific airport security programme (Article 12) and an air carrier
security programme (Article 13) are introduced, setting out the methods
and procedures that are to be followed by the airport operator and the air
carrier in order to comply with security requirements.
Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008 makes it an obligation for
any other entity required to apply aviation security standards to draw up,
apply and keep an updated security programme.
In reference to the Commission’s powers of inspection, there are no
particular innovations to be recorded in Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008.
According to the new legal approach chosen by the legislature, the modal­
ities for the carrying out of the Commission’s inspections should have been
adopted afterwards according to the regulatory procedure under Article
This was the case with Commission Regulation (EU) No. 72/2010,
under which the inspections verifying the application of Regulation (EC)
No. 300/2008 must be conducted in a transparent, effective, harmonized
and consistent manner, in cooperation with the competent authorities

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54 Air transport security

of member states, designated under Article 9 of Regulation (EC) No.

300/2008, and must cover selected airports, operators and entities respon-
sible for applying aviation security standards. As regards the relevant
procedures, the Commission must give due notice (at least two months)
to the appropriate authorities of the territory. Commission officials must
conduct inspections which meet the criteria of effectiveness and efficiency.
On completion of the inspection, a report is to be sent to the competent
authority of the relevant state. The latter must submit a reply in writing
based on the results and recommendations received and the same author-
ity must also provide an action plan, specifying actions and deadlines, to
remedy any deficiencies identified.
Furthermore, still on the subject of inspections and for the sake of
completeness, it must be pointed out that some of the amendments to the
proposal for the adoption of Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008 presented
by the European Parliament were not included in the common position.
Among these was an amendment to require the Commission to ensure that
every airport should be inspected at least once every four years, following
the entry into force of the Regulation.
Finally, mention should be made of another important innovation,
introduced by Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008, providing for
the only additional responsibility attributed to the Commission. The
Commission must introduce detailed in-flight security measures, regulat-
ing aspects such as access to the flight deck, the treatment of potentially
disruptive passengers, and flight security officers. The latter, by express
provision, may be armed. This is undoubtedly an important legislative
innovation that will need to be applied with a great deal of caution.
The new Regulation has also updated the previous provisions concern-
ing air transport security, based on ECAC recommendations (Article 4(1))
already in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No. 2320/2002).


As previously stated, the threat of possible unlawful interferences in the

air transport system did not decline, even after the events of 11 September
2001, nor has it lost any of its urgency. For this reason, especially today, the
necessity of sharpening preventive measures in order to avoid the reoccur-
rence of such events is keenly felt.
In this context, the use by the authorities of every state of personal data
provided by passengers when travelling is a useful preventive instrument.
These identifying data (passenger name records (PNR) – in the beginning,

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International and EU legal frameworks of aviation security ­55

the use of PNRs was conceived to allow air carriers to exchange informa-
tion on personal data acquired upon booking from those passengers
who might have had to use flights from different airlines to reach their
final destination) contain much information on the individual passenger,
including name, address and email, phone numbers, terms of payment,
booking dates, seat number and information on previous non-appearances
at boarding. Such data is collected by air carriers (and in some cases by
tour operators and travel agencies) and is mainly used for commercial aims
and purposes. But these are not the only use the data is put to. Since the
1950s, this information has been used by customs offices in various states
as an instrument in the fight against terrorism and organized crime, and
consequently for purposes of security and safeguard of national interests.
PNRs are, thus, a group of data that enables the tracing of each pas-
senger for commercial uses. However, the handling of PNRs, especially
for security reasons (after the 9/11 attacks many states started to require
transmission of this information from carriers) has impinged on the users-
passengers’ right to privacy. For this reason, it is essential that processing
of this data be carried out in ways and forms ensuring the respect of
the fundamental rights of persons. This data is not to be confused with
Advance Passenger Information (API), obtained by optically reading
passports. API data is also distinguishable from PNR data for the purposes
of its collection and use. The former is, in fact, mainly used as an identity
control tool, in the monitoring of and processing of access to frontiers.
The latter is used for the prevention of terrorist acts and other serious
crimes. Because of the great number of elements present in the latter, the
use it may be put to varies according to necessity. PNR may thus be used
both for investigations and in criminal proceedings (reactively), and the
prevention of crimes (by its use in real time), and for the study and analysis
of trends, to create general movement and behaviour models of subjects
(from a pro-active point of view).
On an international perspective, the issue of the collection of PNR
data by member states has been raised for the first time during the twelfth
session of the Facilitation Division ICAO, held in Cairo between 22 March
and 1 April 2004, with the adoption of recommendation B/5, by which
it invited the same ICAO to develop guidelines addressed to contracting
states who had decided to use PNR data as an additional identification
instrument to the data API (Mendes de Leon, 2006, p. 320 and Pauvert,
2005, p. 81).
The Recommendation B/54 was followed by the adoption of the
Recommended Practice 3:48 by the ICAO Council, which was inserted
in Annex 9 (Facilitation). The Recommended Practice states that:
‘[c]ontracting States requiring Passenger Name Record (PNR) access

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56 Air transport security

should conform their data requirements and their handling of such data to
guidelines developed by ICAO’.
At this regulatory intervention, ICAO, a year later, has responded by
launching, in its corollary, the guidelines for the adoption of uniform
measures for transmission and conservation by the member of such data
(Circular 309). Finally, some years later, following a recommendation
of the Facilitation Panel (FALP) in 2008, the ICAO issued, during a
FALP meeting held between 10 and 14 May 2010 in Paris, the Doc. 9944
(Guidelines on Passenger Name Record Date) with the specific purpose of
updating the guidelines contained in Circular 309, setting more stringent
criteria to be followed by contracting states in the creation of transmission,
storage and data protection systems of PNR. The new paragraphs state

Contracting States requiring PNR data should consider the data privacy impact
of PNR data collection and electronic transfer, within their own national
systems and also in other States. Where necessary, Contracting States requiring
PNR data and those States restricting such data exchange should engage in
early cooperation to align legal requirements.

Appendix 1 of Doc. 9944 expressly establishes that the transmission of

data should only refer to those elements strictly relevant and necessary
and that passengers cannot be required to provide sensitive information
both to airlines and states. Another profile on which the ICAO guidelines
dwell, and that will have wide importance in the European debate leading
to the adoption of Directive 2016/681/EU, is related to the method of
transmission of PNR data. At an international level, the choice between
the ‘push’ method, under which air carriers shall provide information only
following the express request of the state, and the ‘pull’ methodology,
which allows the state to have direct access to the database in which PNR
data is kept, has been widely discussed. Supporting the first system, ICAO,
with its guidelines, has also intervened on the timing and frequency of data
transmission, in order to avoid excessive costs for airlines, by requiring
them, when required to send this data, to pay special attention to comply
with provisions on protection of personal data in force in the two states
between which the exchange of data occurs.
In 2014, the discipline of PNR was merged into two new Recommended
Practices, the 3:49 and 3.49.2, both included in Annex 9. Finally, during
a meeting in Montreal from 4 to 7 April 2016, the Facilitation Panel,
noting the recent growth of PNR national programmes and the fact that
in many cases the procedures followed were neither perfectly aligned with
the Recommended Practices contained in Annex 9 nor with the require-
ments contained in Doc. 9944 ICAO and related guidelines, suggested,

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International and EU legal frameworks of aviation security ­57

supporting the WP/13 International Air Transport Association (IATA), to

move the two Recommended Practices from Chapter 3 (paragraphs 3:49
and 3.49.2) to subsection D of Chapter 9 and to raise these provisions
to Standards (through the inclusion of two new paragraphs, 9.26 and
9.26.1, with minimal changes to the text of the previous Recommended
Practices). In addition, the Facilitation Panel proposed to introduce a new
Recommended Practice (9.27) concerning the specific issue of privacy.
During the 39th General Assembly of ICAO, held in Montreal from 27
September to 7 October 2016, the Executive Committee expressed its full
support for the priorities, identified during FAL Programme works for
the 2017–2019 triennium, in order to strengthen the provisions contained
in Annex 9: Facilitation; among these are the recommendations, on the
subject of PNR, made by the FALP during the aforementioned meeting
held in April 2017. During the same meeting, the Executive Committee
also expressed its support to the WP/203, presented by Indonesia, to
request the ICAO Council to consider the complete implementation of
PNRGOV standards (a standard electronic message endorsed jointly
by World Custom Organization (WCO)/ICAO/IATA, with specific data
elem­ents provided accordingly on the specific aircraft operator’s reserva-
tion and departure control systems) so as to provide a quick and accurate
instrument to face possible new threats to security in the context of air
travel, arising from the continuing growth in traffic volumes in this area.
The Committee, noting that these standards for application of PNR data
are developed together with the WCO and the IATA, asked these three
organizations to review the same message PNRGOV, so as to allow, in
consideration of the different systems, easier access to such information by
operators and by states.
We may find many of these indications in the international agreements
that have been signed by the EU with third countries. To date, the EU has
signed bilateral agreements on PNR (Boehm, 2011, p. 171; Cotura, 2011,
p. 277 and Dirrig, 2006, p. 698) with three countries: the US, Australia and
Canada, although with regard to this latter country the relevant agreement
has already ceased its effects and therefore needs to be replaced (Rossi Dal
Pozzo, 2015, p. 99). However, the new agreement, signed on 25 June 2014,
has never been approved by the European Parliament, which, considering
it incompatible with the Treaties (Article 16 TFEU) and the Charter of
Fundamental Rights (Articles 7, 8 and 52 para. 1) referred questions for
preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice. To date, the Court has not yet
issued its Opinion (numbered 1/15) but Advocate General Mengozzi did.
The latter expressed a strong opposition to the agreement in its current
form, starting from the observations on the correct legal basis of the agree-
ment, which, according to Advocate General Mengozzi, should be both

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58 Air transport security

Article 16 and Article 87 TFEU. In fact, the latter Agreement, like all other
agreements of the same kind signed by the EU with third countries, pur-
sues two inseparable objectives, with equal importance: the fight against
terrorism and serious cross-border crimes, which is covered by Article 87
TFEU, and, secondly, the protection of personal data, which is covered by
Article 16 TFEU.
In addition, on the 14 July 2015 the negotiations for the conclusion of
an agreement with Mexico were initiated. Besides, even in the absence of
such international agreements, other countries (Russia, Mexico, United
Arab Emirates, South Korea, Brazil, Japan and Saudi Arabia), have begun
to ask the EU to transfer PNR data.
At EU level, a common approach was lacking, at least until the approval
of Directive 2016/681/EU, to be transposed by member states by 25 May
This Directive, whose legal bases are Articles 82 para. 1 letter d, 87
para. 2 letter a, and 16 TFEU, has two main objectives: on the one hand
to guarantee the security, protect the lives and safety of people, and on
the other to create a regulatory framework to protect other fundamental
rights of the person that are relevant in case personal data are collected
and processed by a public authority.


Aviation security is defined by ICAO as a combination of measures

(human and material resources) aimed at safeguarding civil aviation
against acts of unlawful interference. Despite the wide international legal
framework which governs the matter nowadays, it is worth mentioning
that at the time ICAO was created, threats to civil aviation were practically
unheard of.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the civil aviation sector started to be
targeted by terrorists and criminals for its inherent value and high profile.
The vital role which is played by the industry in facilitating movement
of people and trade has become an attractive target for those who want
to perpetrate crimes which would create a deep impact on social life and
public opinion.
In the last five decades, aviation has suffered numerous attacks, varying
from hijacks to attacks on airports, which prompted the international
community to closely address the issue.
Due to the unpredictability and creativity of perpetrators, who have
been constantly developing new threats, the aviation industry has been
capable of responding to these attacks in a mostly reactive manner.

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International and EU legal frameworks of aviation security ­59

As a matter of fact, none of the four conventions, signed between 1963

and 1988, together with the issuance of ICAO Annex 17, were effective
in preventing the use of aircrafts as weapons of mass destruction on 11
September 2001, a day which changed both the course of history and
the aviation industry. Even the strong and decisive response of the inter­
national community to that episode, specifically prompting, inter alia, the
US, the EU and its member states to set new standards and legal measures
relating to the prevention of acts of unlawful interference, did not manage
to stop new attacks towards the aviation industry from happening again.
The bombings of Brussels’ and Istanbul’s airport terminal areas, along
with the mid-air explosion of the Metrojet flight over the Sinai Peninsula,
represented the latest chilling wake-up call for the aviation industry, call-
ing for a renovated and closer cooperation between all the stakeholders
involved, aiming at preventing new terrorist attacks.
The commitment shown by the international community during the
ICAO General Assembly 27 September to 6 October 2016 may represent a
good starting point in tackling the rise of new threats to the aviation indus-
try, but it is crucial for the regulatory activity, both at international and
national level, to be accompanied by a continuous evolution of aviation
security measures which will reduce re-activity and enhance pro-activity.
In doing so, it is paramount that the development of up-to-date and
effective legal instruments purports to strike a fair balance between the
need to make air transport as secure as possible, and the safeguarding of
an individual’s fundamental rights and freedoms.


1. On 22 March 2016, three coordinated suicide bombings occurred in Brussels: two at

Brussels Airport in Zaventem, and one at Maalbeek metro station in the city centre.
Thirty-two people and three perpetrators were killed, and more than 300 people were
injured. Another bomb was found during a search of the airport. Three months later,
on 28 June 2016, a group of terrorists equipped with automatic weapons and explosive
belts stroke the Istanbul Ataturk Airport with a simultaneous attack at the international
terminal and Terminal 2. Forty-five people were killed, in addition to the three attackers,
and more than 230 people were injured.
2. On 31 October 2015, Metrojet flight 9268, a scheduled flight from Sharm el Sheikh to
Saint Petersburg, was destroyed in an accident in central Sinai, Egypt. All 224 on board
were killed. Investigators reported that they believed the aircraft broke up in the air. The
Russian Federal Security Service stated on 16 November that the crash was caused by a
terrorist attack. Traces of explosives were found in the wreckage of the plane.
3. On the basis of Article 8 of Regulation (EC) No. 2320/2002, Article 3 of Regulation (EC)
No. 622/2003 states that the measures set out in its Annex, which must be inserted in the
programmes for civil aviation security, are secret, and thus cannot be published, and are
to be made available only to persons authorized by a member state or the Commission.
The matter of the confidentiality of information in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No.

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60 Air transport security

622/2003, already the subject of disagreement between EU institutions, was submitted to

the attention of the Court of Justice through a reference for a preliminary ruling submit-
ted by the Unabhängiger Verwaltungssenatim Land Niederösterreich (the independent
administrative regional court for Lower Austria) in Case C-345/06. The issues raised
by the Austrian court arise from a somewhat curious event. On 25 September 2005, Mr
Heinrich was not permitted to pass through the security control at Vienna-Schwechat
airport. It appears that he nevertheless boarded the aircraft with tennis racquets in his
cabin baggage, despite their being ‘allegedly’ forbidden by Regulation (EC) No. 622/2003
as being suitable to be used as weapons. Security staff subsequently ordered him to
leave the aircraft. Two questions were referred to the Court for its interpretation: do
regulations fall under the category of documents whose public access may be the object
of specific limitations, considering that being published in the Official Journal of the
European Union is a specific requirement for their applicability or, if this is not the case,
are such regulations binding despite being contrary to Article 254(2) TEC (now Article
280 TFEU)? In essence, the referring court wondered whether a provision such as Article
8 of Regulation (EC) No. 622/2003 constitutes a legal basis for the non-publication of
documents for which TEC (now TFEU) expressly prescribes the obligation and if such
documents are furthermore valid. The Court, in its judgment in Case C-345/06, after
recalling that if a regulation is to have any effect on individuals it must be published in
the Official Journal of the European Union, went on to state that the principle of legal
certainty requires that individuals must be given the possibility of ascertaining unequivo-
cally what their rights and obligations are in order to adjust their behaviour in the light
of their knowledge. It follows that an act adopted by a Community institution cannot
be enforced against natural and legal persons in a member state before its publication
in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Court then added, in regard to
this last aspect, that when EU regulations impose obligations on individuals, national
implementing measures must also be published since it is not possible to require that
individuals comply with them if they have had no way of knowing them. Regulation
(EC) No. 622/2003 was subsequently repealed and replaced by Commission Regulation
(EC) No. 820/2008 laying down measures for the implementation of the common basic
standards on aviation security (OJEC L 221 of 19 August 2008, p. 8). Regulation (EC)
No. 820/2008 was subsequently repealed and substituted by Commission Regulation
(EU) No. 185/2010 of 4 March 2010 (OJEU L 55 of 5.3.2010, p. 1). The latter regulation,
after being amended several times, was finally repealed and substituted by Commission
Regulation (EU) No. 2015/1998 (OJEU L 299 of 14 November 2015, p. 1).
4. According to Recommendation B/5, ‘It is recommended that ICAO develop guidance
material for those States that may require access to Passenger Name Record (PNR) data
to supplement identification data received through an API system, including guidelines
for distribution, use and storage of data and a composite list of data elements which may
be transferred between the operator and the receiving State.’


Abeyratne, R., ‘The Events of 11 September 2001 – ICAO’s Responses to the Security
and Insurance Crises’, Air and Space Law, Vol. XXVII, No. 6, 2002, pp. 406 et seq.
Abeyratne, R., ‘The NW 253 Flight and the Global Framework of Aviation
Security’, Air and Space Law, Vol. XXXV, No. 2, 2010, pp. 167 et seq.
Abeyratne, R., ‘The Beijing Convention of 2010: An Important Milestone in the
Annals of Aviation Security’, Air and Space Law, Vol. XXXVI, No. 3, 2011,
pp. 243 et seq.
Abeyratne, R., ‘Air Cargo Security: The Need for Sustainability and Innovation’, Air
and Space Law, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 1, 2013, pp. 21 et seq.

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International and EU legal frameworks of aviation security ­61

Agreement between the European Community and the Government of Canada on

the processing of Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record
data, OJEU L 82, 21 March 2006.
Agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and
transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data by air carriers to the Australian
Customs and Border Protection Service, OJEU L 186, 1 July 2012.
Agreement between the United States of America and the European Union on the
use and transfer of passenger name records to the United States Department of
Homeland Security, OJEU L 215, 11 August 2012.
Barros, X., ‘EU Counterterrorism and Aviation Security: Supranational Rules but
Intergovernmental Politics’, European Foreign Affairs Review, 2012, pp. 53–69.
Boehm, F., ‘EU PNR: European Flight Passengers under General Suspicion: The
Envisaged European Model of Analysing Flight Passenger Data’, Computers,
Privacy and Data Protection, 2011, pp. 171 et seq.
Camarda, G., ‘Il Dirottamento di aeromobili e gli altri illeciti contra la sicurezza
dell’aviazione civile nel diritto italiano e nel diritto internazionale’, Il Diritto aereo,
1976, p. 152 et seq.
Commission Regulation (EC) No. 622/2003 of 4 April 2003 laying down measures for
the implementation of the common basic standards on aviation security,  OJEC L
89, 5.4.2003.
Commission Regulation (EU) No. 72/2010 of 26 January 2010 laying down pro-
cedures for conducting Commission inspections in the field of aviation security,
OJEU L 23 of 27 January 2010.
Commission Regulation (EU) No. 2015/1998 of 5 November 2015 laying down
detailed measures for the implementation of the common basic standards on
aviation security, OJEU L 299 of 14 November 2015.
Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the
exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission, in OJEC L 184
of 17.7.1999, p. 23.
Cotura, S., ‘Cooperation between the European Union and the United States
Regarding International Security: PNR and SWIFT’, International Institutions
and Co-Operation, Vol. I, 2011, pp. 277 et seq.
Directive (EU) 2016/681/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27
April 2016 on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention,
detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime,
OJEU L 119, May 2016.
Dirrig, E., ‘La jurisprudence de la Cour de justice et du Tribunal de première
instance. Chronique des arrêts. Arrêt’Passenger Name Records’, Revue du droit de
l’Union européenne, 2006, pp. 698 et seq.
Dobelle, J.F., ‘L’Oaci et le renforcement de la sécurité de l’aviation civile, Mélanges en
l’honneur de Jean-Pierre Puissochet: l’État souverain dans le monde d’aujourd’hui,
A. Pedone, 2008, pp. 65 et seq.
Giemulla, E.M., ‘Aviation Security in the European Union’, International and EU
Aviation Law, 2011, pp. 357 et seq.
Harrison, J., International Aviation and Terrorism: Evolving Threats, Evolving
Security (Political Violence), London, Routledge, 2009.
ICAO (2001), 33rd General Assembly, Resolution A33-2: Consolidated statement
of continuing ICAO policies related to the safeguarding of international civil
aviation against acts of unlawful interference.
ICAO (2010), 37th General Assembly, ‘Declaration on Aviation Security’.

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62 Air transport security

ICAO (2011), International civil aviation organization: Annex 17 (9th edition)

(ICAO). Montreal: ICAO.
ICAO (2016), 39th General Assembly, Resolution A39-18 Consolidated statement
of continuing ICAO policies related to aviation security.
ICAO (2016), 39th General Assembly, Resolution A39-19 Addressing Cybersecurity
in Civil Aviation.
Mendes de Leon, P., ‘The Fight against Terrorism through Aviation: Data Protection
versus Data Protection’, Air and Space Law, Vol. XXXVI, Nos. 4 and 5, 2006,
pp. 320 et seq.
Pauvert, B., ‘La difficile conciliation de la sûreté aérienne et du respect des libertés
individuelles?’, La sécurité et la sûreté des transports aériens, Paris, L’Harmattan,
2005, pp. 81 et seq.
Regulation (EC) No. 2320/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council
of 16 December 2002 establishing common rules in the field of civil aviation
security, OJEC L 355 of 30.12.2002.
Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11
March 2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation security and repealing
Regulation (EC) No. 2320/2002, OJEC of 9.4.2008, p. 72.
Rossi Dal Pozzo, F., EU Legal Framework for Safeguarding Air Passenger Rights,
Springer, 2015.
Schmid, R., Security Checks of Carry-on Baggage Examined in the Light of the
Warsaw Convention, Air and Space Law, Vol. XVIII, No. 6, 1993, pp. 292 et seq.
‘The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on
Terrorist Attacks upon The United States’ (9/11 Report).
UN Security Council (2016), Resolution 2309 on Aviation Security.

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The role of the private sector for air
transport security
Jeffrey Price


Using private companies to perform and support essential government

functions has been a long-standing tradition throughout the US, and the
world. Historically, private manufacturers have provided all forms of war
materials to the militaries of their countries, and governments, combined
with private sector resources, have helped pioneer everything from the
Internet to human spaceflight, to the cyber systems that the world has
come to rely upon every day. It may be the policymakers that make the
policies, laws and regulations, but it is the private sector that provides
the technologies and, often, the personnel to properly execute and fulfill
the policies.
In the aviation security domain, the private sector contributes in numer-
ous areas including airport screening technologies and screening personnel,
airport access control and credentialing systems, perimeter intrusion detec-
tion systems, intelligence gathering and dissemination, private security
officer personnel for regulatory enforcement, alarm response and airfield
patrol functions, are amongst just a few examples. Private sector resources
can make great strides in technological advances, and often operate more
efficiently than government agencies.
While many private sector companies may produce products and
services that supply aviation security operators with needed technologies
and personnel, the private sector often requires a much larger infusion
of capital in order to make breakthroughs, to support production on a
larger scale. Federal rulemaking is also often necessary to ensure that the
products and services provided by the private sector will continue to be in
demand for the foreseeable future (Sylves, 2015, p. 192).
The 9/11 attacks compelled policymakers to support the private sector
through government-funded research on new types of weapons detection
and other counterterrorism technologies (Sylves, 2015, p. 86). Large cor-
porations won federal contracts to purchase X-ray equipment, explosive


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64 Air transport security

detection equipment and to hire, and train, a federal screening workforce.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) started with the
November 2001 passage of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act,
and only had a few employees by the end of the month. Within one year
the ranks swelled to over 45,000 screeners, and thousands more in the form
of administrative support, field inspectors, law enforcement, supervisory
and management personnel. The federal hiring process in the US is known
to be quite slow, and in the eyes of the federal government being able to
hire that many people in one year was not considered to be feasible, so
much so that the TSA immediately hired a large private sector contractor
to do the job.
The threat of terrorism, both prior to and after 9/11, prompted
Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, and Congress, to
support and fund a variety of security-related research and technologies.
Many of these technologies were in the aviation security domain, includ-
ing improved intelligence collection and data mining via the Internet,
improved surveillance technologies, new forms of bomb disposal and
explosive detection, computer-assisted X-ray technologies, electromagnetic
resonance imaging technologies, and an overall improvement to wireless
telecommunications for airport security personnel (Sylves, 2015, p. 128).
The private sector was also called upon to assist on 9/11, as stated by the
9/11 Commission, which noted that many first responders on 9/11 were
private sector citizens (Kean and Hamilton, 2004, p. 317). Strictly speaking
the only defense put up by the US on 9/11, was by the private sector.

The defense of U.S. airspace on 9/11 was not conducted in accordance with
pre-existing training and protocols. It was improvised by civilians who had
never handled a hijacked aircraft that attempted to disappear and by a military
unprepared for the transformation of commercial aircraft into weapons of mass
destruction. (Kean and Hamilton, 2004, p. 31)

We can categorize the areas where the private sector combines with the
government function of protecting the populace, into: screening technolo-
gies and personnel, access control (including perimeter security) and iden-
tity management technologies and personnel, airport law enforcement and
security personnel, intelligence and interdiction, aircraft operator security
technologies, and non-profit and trade associations.
This chapter begins with an overall discussion of the evolution of screen-
ing technologies, personnel and processes, pre and post 9/11, along with a
comparison of US practices to international standard practices. This leads
to a discussion of privatized versus government employed screening per-
sonnel and finishes with an analysis of the various screening technologies
currently in use. Next, the chapter addresses the areas of employee access

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The role of the private sector for air transport security ­65

control, identity management and airport perimeter security practices,

as they relate to both the insider threat and potential threats to aircraft
from unauthorized individuals accessing the airfield via the perimeter. The
chapter then looks at the private sector involvement in aircraft operator
security focusing on manufactures of anti-missile technology and flight
deck security. Law enforcement and security personnel are addressed
next, along with the brief discussions on the role of the private sector in
intelligence gathering, and support provided by non-profit and industry
trade associations, in the areas of researching best practices and innovative
approaches to security issues.



The security-screening checkpoint is an excellent example of how private

industry fulfills a significant role in the air transport security. Due to
numerous hijackings and bombings on commercial aircraft in the 1960s
and 1970s, and the ease in which individuals were able to smuggle bombs
and guns onto aircraft, screening checkpoints and the screening process
were established, and remain required to this day. Throughout the world,
airports commonly use private security screening personnel to staff airport
checkpoints. Up until 9/11 the US also used private screeners, contracted
by the airlines and regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA), but the terrorist attacks challenged their use and effectiveness.

Screening: ‘The application of technical or other means which are intended to

identify and/or detect weapons, explosives or other dangerous devices, articles
or substances which may be used to commit an act of unlawful interference.’
(ICAO, 2011, pp. 1-2)

Under ICAO Annex 17, each Contracting State shall ensure that the
persons carrying out screening operations are certified according to the
requirements of the national civil aviation security program to ensure that
performance standards are consistently and reliably achieved (ICAO, 2011,
p. 4-1), and that originating passengers of commercial air transport opera-
tions and their cabin baggage are screened prior to boarding an aircraft
departing from a security restricted area (ICAO, 2011, p. 4-2).
The Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 (ATSA), cre-
ated the US TSA and handed over the screening functions to the newly
formed agency. Within a year, the TSA had hired (through a private
contractor, which incidentally, also conducts much of the training for
the TSA ­personnel), over 45,000 new government employees to take over

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66 Air transport security

screening functions at airport screening checkpoints. The agency has

continued to build and expand as checked bag screening technologies were
implemented, and as TSA as an agency has self-expanded their missions
and roles, into the Travel Document Check (TDC) functions, the behavior
detection functions and K-9 teams. However, as part of the ATSA, the
legislation allowed for five airports to remain with private contractors, as a
pilot program, to determine whether private contractors could be as effect­
ive as government personnel. The private contractor option was largely a
result of lobbying from the existing contractor screening companies and
supported by legislators who generally oppose government expansion.
The changes made in the US have challenged the role of the private
sector in security screening and are worthy of additional explanation and
study. To properly assess the debate between private or government person-
nel providing screeners, some backstory is required. Prior to 9/11, in the
US, air carriers were, by regulation, responsible for the screening function,
which was almost exclusively carried out by private contractors from the
airlines. After TWA 800 crashed off the coast of Long Island, New York,
in 1996, then-President Clinton established The Presidential Commission
on Aviation Security. The Commission was chaired by Vice President Al
Gore in 1997 and was given the nickname, the Gore Commission. At the
time, it was widely believed that TWA 800 crashed due to a bomb,1 so the
Commission attempted to identify ways to improve aviation security.
One of the more significant findings of the Gore Commission was that
the federal government should consider aviation security to be a national
security issue and provide substantial funding for capital improvements.
The Gore Commission stated: ‘The Commission believes that terrorist
attacks on civil aviation are directed at the United States, and that there
should be an ongoing federal commitment to reducing the threats that
they pose’ (Gore, 1997). With this statement, the Commission formally
established a proactive policy toward aviation security, but also implicitly
declared that aviation security is essentially a government responsibility.
This was a welcome relief to the airline industry, which had been respon-
sible for providing aircraft screening since the early 1970s, but they would
not be able to shed their screening responsibilities until 9/11.
In the year 2000, the airlines had assessed whether to turn the screening
function over to a newly created, separate corporation that would replace
all the private security companies (essentially a consortium comprised of
board members from the airline industry and run by an airline chosen
team), to even out the cost of security amongst the air carriers. American
Airlines was the first to sign on to support such a consortium, although
the airline was not hoping to get a profit out of the screening function, but
at least alleviate the liability that can result from a security failure. United

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The role of the private sector for air transport security ­67

Airlines, the largest contractor of private screeners at the time, initially

supported the deal, but later reversed its support and prevented it from
happening (Trento and Trento, 2006, pp. 119–20).
The passage of the Aviation Security Improvement Act of 2000 directed
the FAA to issue a final rule to certify screening companies by May 31,
2001, a deadline that the FAA missed. The FAA rulemaking and subse-
quent certification was supposed to call for higher screening standards,
and better training and testing for the screening providers. Neither the
airline-screening consortium, nor the FAA’s rulemaking would make any
headway before 9/11 occurred, but the Gore Commission conclusion, (that
aviation security was a federal responsibility), would be remembered after
9/11, by members of government, and the airline industry.
Before 9/11, there seemed to be a general consensus that airport
screening in the US was a system with gaping holes, and even the 9/11
Commission did note that the screening process was lax (particularly the
one videotape of the screening of two of the hijackers on 9/11 which was
available and reviewed by an expert at the request of the Commission, who
noted that the quality of the screeners work was marginal at best). It was
not the screeners that allowed the knives and box cutters to get through
the checkpoint; the major security failure on 9/11 was an FAA policy that
those items be allowed onto aircraft (Kean and Hamilton, 2004, p. 3).
If small knives and box cutters had been discovered on the hijackers,
they would have been allowed to keep them under the FAA policy (Kean
and Hamilton, 2004, p. 13).2 Some passengers reported that the hijackers
had bombs, however the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found no
evidence of bombs at any of the crash sites, and there was no evidence that
the hijackers attempted to smuggle bombs through the screening check-
point. The Commission concluded that any bombs were probably fake and
would not have been detected anyway (Kean & Hamilton, 2004, p. 13).3
Post 9/11, the quandary over how to manage airline screeners evolved
into three possible solutions: turn the existing private contact screeners
into FAA employees (this option was considered prior to the creation
of the TSA), place the screeners into an existing law enforcement agency
such as US Customs or US Border Patrol, or place the screeners under
a new federal agency. Ultimately, the screeners were hired, trained and
employed by the TSA, which eventually became part of the Department
of Homeland Security (Price and Forrest, 2013, p.74). Even though the
conclusion of the 9/11 Commission essentially absolved the screening
function from responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, gone from the screening
debate was whether to continue with private screeners but with much
higher government imposed regulatory requirements in the areas of train-
ing and performance. The 9/11 Commission however, was not created until

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68 Air transport security

long after these decisions had been made, TSA already been formed, and
federal employees were staffing screening checkpoints.
For a private contractor to provide a service typically associated with
being provided by government, there must be strict regulatory controls in
place if it is to be successful. After 9/11 many of the screening contractor
companies pointed to FAA policies and enforcement practices, rather
than their own shortcomings, for lackadaisical checkpoint security. The
Argenbright Company, which held many of the screening contracts in
the US, also held numerous private screening contracts at several airports
in Europe. Because of the higher government standards in Europe at the
time, Argenbright personnel in the UK were highly trained, in not just
screening but also the security questioning process, and were held to very
rigid standards that they often met. In the US, weaker laws mandated the
standard of performance and policies, so personnel were held to a much
lower training and performance standard. Often, it was less costly for the
airlines to pay fines for the periodic failures of their contracted screeners
to detect FAA test items, than it was to allocate more money into technol­
ogies and personnel (Trento and Trento, 2006, p. 107).
In 2001, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined
security screening at five international airports known for having good
screening practices, including airports in Belgium, Canada, France, the
Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The GAO found that responsibil-
ity for screening in these countries is placed with the airport authority or
their respective federal government, which then contracts out the screening
function. Both Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel and London
Heathrow International Airport are operated by airport authorities that
contract out key elements of the screening process (supplemented in other
areas by police and government personnel). In the case of Heathrow, the
entire operation of the airport is managed by an external contracting
service (GAO, 2001, p. 2).
Despite significant evidence demonstrating that privatized security
screening can be effective if properly managed and held to high regulatory
standards, there was little public sentiment after 9/11 to allow any form of
screening that resembled the pre-9/11 privatized model (Price and Forrest,
2013, p. 148). After the passage of the ATSA, federal workers replaced
the privatized screeners throughout the nations’ 450 commercial service
airports, swelling the ranks of screeners from 12,000 to over 40,000 in
one year. The TSA’s screening function is unusual in that the government
agency acts as both the operator and regulator of the same function, and
the results have not been without challenge.
In the years following 9/11, the GAO issued several reports on screening
effectiveness and ineffectiveness, and in 2015 a scathing report drafted by

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The role of the private sector for air transport security ­69

the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s office was

leaked to the press, that showed TSA personnel had failed on 97 percent
of the screening tests conducted by members of the Inspector General’s

The Screening Partnership Program

The airports that retained private contractors for screeners after 9/11 did
so under new rules. Rather than screeners contracted by the airlines and
held to risible government standards, the new private screening companies
would have to certify under TSA’s much more stringent requirements, and
be contracted and directly supervised by the TSA. Another significant
change to the post-9/11 privatized screening model is that while airports
are still required by regulation, under Title 49 CFR Part 1544, to ensure
that personnel, baggage and cargo not be allowed on to their airplane
unless first undergoing the screening process, the entity that can request
private contractors must be the airport operator. As far back as the begin-
ning of screening in the US, airport operators have never been directly
responsible for the screening process, even though this is a commonly
accepted practice throughout the world.
The five initial airports each represented a particular category of airport,
from the largest airports known as Category X,4 to the smallest known as
Category IV. The five airports5 were: San Francisco International (Cat X),
Kansas City International (Cat I), Greater Rochester International (Cat
II), Tupelo Regional, Mississippi (Cat III) and Jackson Hole, Wyoming
(Cat IV). In the case of Jackson Hole, workers employed directly by the
airport operator perform screening. In all other cases, private contractors
provide screening, with TSA supervisors and managers left in place to
monitor contract compliance and performance.
Before 9/11, employees of contracting screening companies were paid
poorly and met minimal qualifications, as companies sought to maximize
profit from their airline contracts. However, with the post 9/11 higher
standards in the areas of hiring training, and performance standards
the private sector companies have been more successful at obtaining
and retaining better qualified personnel. After the first five years of the
pilot program, some of the private screening companies were reporting
workers’ compensation rates of lower than 5 percent, as compared to the
20 percent or more workers’ compensation rates of the federal workforce.
In some cases, airport operators with private personnel experienced fewer
security breaches, fewer customer service complaints, and, depending on
the airport, faster screening lines and were able to provide the same level
of service with 20 percent less personnel than similar federally staffed

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70 Air transport security

f­acilities. Contributing to the lower costs was that the private companies
made effective use of part-time personnel, whereas the federal workforce
was not set up to use such an advantage. The federal government has
recently allowed part-time personnel and taken other lessons from the
private contractors in an attempt to improve their own screening processes
(Price and Forrest, 2013, p. 303), but hiring and training a new federal
employee still takes several months, compared to the few weeks it can take
a private sector company to onboard personnel that are just as qualified.
Beginning in November 2004, additional airports could elect to opt out
of the federal screening program and apply for the Screening Partnership
Program (SPP). Airports must file an application to become part of the
SPP, while TSA holds the final authority both for approval of the SPP
application and contractor selection. As of 2018 over 26 airports have
elected to become part of the SPP. One airport in Montana did switch to
the SPP, but then requested to opt back in to using TSA personnel.
The SPP hit a roadblock in 2011 when TSA leadership at the time
decided that the agency would reject any further airport opt-out applica-
tions unless the airport could prove that the private screeners could provide
a security advantage over TSA personnel. This virtually impossible task
was TSAs effort to stop the migration of airports to private sector person-
nel. However, the US Congress, overall a long-time supporter of opt-out,
reversed the order burden of proof forcing the TSA to approve opt-out
applications unless they could prove that the private screeners would
provide a lesser level of security than TSA – again, a nearly impossible task
(Price and Forrest, 2013, p. 302). This chess match between the TSA and
Congress ended with Congress’ final move, which checkmated TSA, and
forced the agency to again accept SPP applications.
After being compelled to once again process SPP applications, TSA then
tried to stonewall the program on economic grounds, and explained that
privatized screening costs more money than their federal employee staffed
checkpoints. However, when a private contractor takes over, TSA leaves
a large workforce of their own in place to oversee the private screeners,
thereby creating a substantial amount of duplication of TSA supervisors
and managers, and the supervisors and managers employed by the private
company. The SPP application process is still slow, however, and newly
approved contractors are required to first offer openings to TSA personnel
already in place at the airport.
The TSA’s own studies on the SPP found that screening at SPP airports
costs approximately 17.4 percent more to operate than at airports with
federal screeners, and that SPP airports fell within the ‘average performer’
category for the performance measures included in its analysis.6 Other
studies have put the costs at 9 to 17 percent higher than at non-SPP

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The role of the private sector for air transport security ­71

airports, and private screeners performed at a level that was equal to or

greater than that of federal Transportation Security Officers (TSOs). A
2009 GAO report that compared the results of the TSA study and another
study conducted by an independent contractor concluded that some of the
increased costs resulted from redundancies between TSA and contractor
personnel at the SPP airports (Price and Forrest, 2013, p. 302).
The critical question in the use of private or government screeners is
performance. While testing results for both TSA staffed checkpoints and
privately contracted staffed checkpoints is classified, it is apparent the
TSA would not continue to allow privatized screeners if their performance
was not greater than or equal to TSA performance.
In 2016, the newly appointed TSA Administrator was intent on improv-
ing the detection rate at the checkpoints, so the screeners slowed down
to better inspect each bag. This resulted in very sluggish passenger flow
through the checkpoint resulting in waiting periods of three or more hours
at some airports, with thousands of passengers missing their flights and
countless airline flight delays. Many large-hub airport operators threatened
to go to the private sector (e.g. the SPP) for a solution if TSA did not come
up with a solution. Ultimately, while TSA started re-hiring personnel, it
would be the airport and airline operators hiring private sector personnel
to assist TSA with line queue management, and to assist customers with
non-security functions in the checkpoint, such as the divestiture process,
that helped get the lines moving again.
Perhaps the US can take a lesson from Canada in the proper way to
privatize a workforce. There has been a push in recent years to privatize
the FAA’s monopoly over the US’s air traffic control system. The FAA has
been slow to keep up with upgrades in technology and improvements in
air safety, while Canada, which has privatized their traffic control system,
is well ahead of the technology curve (McCartney, 2016). In the same
regards, the Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority (CATSA)
is a Crown corporation7 responsible for securing specific elements of the
air transportation system, including passenger and baggage screening,
and screening of airport workers. CATSA answers to and is regulated
by Transport Canada. Transport Canada is similar to the Department
of Transportation in the US, in that the agency is the regulator and the
policymaker for aviation security practices, but does not carry out the
security functions the way the TSA does (Price and Forrest, 2013, p. 148).

Security Screening Technologies

For a considerable part of the history of aviation security, standard X-ray

machines were the staple of technology at the screening checkpoint. Some

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72 Air transport security

countries, such as Canada, have long ago integrated advanced technology

X-ray systems into their checked bag screening process. Prior to 9/11, a
few countries had pioneered the implementation of Explosive Detection
Systems (EDS), primarily for checked bag screening, and to screen carry-
on baggage associated with certain suspect passengers, or to introduce an
element of randomness to the screening process. But it was not until after
9/11 that saw the widespread implementation of sophisticated medical
grade CAT scan technology into the airport screening process.
The passage of the Aviation Security Improvement Act of 1990 in
the US encouraged the FAA to develop better explosive detection tech-
nologies, but these technologies would not see the footprint of a screening
checkpoint until after the crash of TWA 800, in 1996. In addition to the
EDS machines, Explosive Trace Detectors (ETDs) were also deployed to
airport checkpoints. Both EDS and ETD technology are inventions of the
private sector. EDS systems are a variant of a medical grade CAT scan,
combined with a standard X-ray machine. ETD technologies have quietly
been used in customs areas and by customs and border personnel to detect
trace elements of narcotics. Today, both are used to detect explosives –
EDS primarily in checked baggage screening, and ETDs are used at screen-
ing checkpoints to reconcile suspect bags or conduct random searches.
Shortly after 9/11, ATSA required the 100 percent screening of all
checked baggage, by December 31, 2002. Unfortunately, at the time only
one EDS machine could be manufactured per month, and there were
only two FAA approved manufacturers in the world, constructing such
machines. While there was no way logistically to build the hundreds of
machines that would be necessary to be placed in 450 commercial service
airports, the private security industry, and federal, state and local airports
worked together to develop ways to deploy the technologies faster. TSA
did meet the December 31 deadline, but not with the deployment of the
machines – TSA simply changed the definition of checked bag screening
to include the passenger bag match process. It would be nearly a decade
before all US commercial service airports would have some form of tech-
nological screening system in place for checked baggage.
As threats to aircraft change, such as the more widespread use of liquid-
based explosive devices, the private sector is essential to continuing to
develop technologies to detect new types of explosive devices and explosive
elements, while trying to do it efficiently and in a way that does not require
a large footprint at the airport.
Some private companies have also seen the opportunity to take advan-
tage of screen wait times for marketing purposes, by purchasing advertis-
ing space in the bins used by passengers during the divestment process at
screening, and advertising space on the walls of the screening checkpoints.

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The role of the private sector for air transport security ­73



Less controversial than the question of who operates the screening check-
point, is the use of private security contractors and technologies developed
by private companies in the areas of airport access control, identity
management (i.e. credentialing), and perimeter security. If the screening
checkpoint can be considered the front door to aviation security, employee
access portals and the perimeter fence can be considered the back door.
ICAO Annex 17 calls for 100 percent screening of all persons, other than
passengers, accessing the security areas of an airport (ICAO, 2011, p. 4-1).
However, ICAO stops short of making this mandatory and notes that
where 100 percent screening is not being utilized, other security controls,
in accordance with a risk assessment carried out by the national authorities
responsible for aviation security, should be applied.
In the US and throughout many other countries, many airport workers
are not subjected to the same type of screening that is applied to passengers,
but instead undergo background checks, are issued airport identification
badges, and must use access-controlled doors and gates to enter airport
security areas. While some airports will stop at the background check and
the access control system as a method of other security controls, many
airports have implemented various forms of employee inspections, which
are often carried out by private contractor security personnel.
ICAO calls for airport operators to have in place an access control
system to grant pedestrian and vehicle access to the security areas of an
airfield. At airports throughout the world Physical Access Control Systems
(PACS) have been in place for several decades. PACS can range from simple
locks on a door or perimeter gate accessible with the proper key or keypad
code, to highly advanced computerized systems tied in to closed-circuit
television monitors and alarmed access points, throughout the airport.
When an unauthorized individual attempts to access a secured location,
the alarm can sound audibly at the location, and notification is made to
a security operations control center. Privately contracted personnel are
involved with airport access control systems in three primary areas, the
computerized system itself, private contractor security personnel used for
the monitoring and/or response to security alarms, and the airport badging
and credentialing software systems. Perimeter security also typically falls
within the purview of airport access control.
Most airports have an access control system that is proprietary to a
private company, which has developed the hardware, and sometimes the
software use to manage employee access. In the US, standards for access
control are published by the Radio Technical Commission on Aeronautics,

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74 Air transport security

specifically through DO-230F Standards for Airport Security Access

Control Systems (RTCA, 2015).
The RTCA is a private, not-for-profit association and is a Public-
Private Partnership venue for developing technical advances in aviation.
The RTCA’s products serve as the basis for government certification of
equipment used by aircraft and airports throughout the world. The RTCA
provides standards and guidelines for implementing access control systems
in the context of integrated security systems for airports, and provides
guidance on acquiring and designing such systems, testing and evaluating
system performance, and operational requirements (RTCA, 2016).
DO-230F Standards for Airport Security Access Control Systems incor-
porates technological advances in security access control systems and
identity management technologies, including smart cards and biometrics,
perimeter security, security operation support and requirements for iden-
tity management (RTCA, 2016).
The major areas covered include:

1. Credentialing
2. Biometrics
3. Physical Access Control Systems (PACS)
4. Perimeter Intrusion Detection Systems (PIDS)
5. Video Surveillance Systems
6. Security Operations Center (SOC)
7. Integration
8. Communications Infrastructure
9. Acquisition-Related Considerations

In each case noted above, private sector technologies are being utilized to
fulfill the listed functions.
Credentialing: ICAO Annex 17 requires that each Contracting State
ensure that background checks are conducted on persons other than
passengers (e.g. airport workers, contractors, vendors, tenants, airlines)
who are granted unescorted access to security restricted areas of the
airport (ICAO, 2011, p. 4-1). However, the method and thoroughness of
background checks are implemented in a variety of ways throughout the
world. In 1996, prior to the passage of the Aviation Security and Anti-
terrorism Act in the US, airport and aircraft operators were left largely to
their own devices when conducting background checks. Even a local check
of wants and warrants was not required, so it was possible for not only
convicted felons, but also those wanted for a crime, to secure a job at an
airport. The passage of the act required airport operators to implement an
access investigation process, whereby all personnel applying for an airport

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The role of the private sector for air transport security ­75

access badge must first complete documentation that outlines their work
or school history for the past 10 years; the most recent five years of listed
employment were verified prior to issuance of the badge. If there were no
significant gaps in employment (defined as a gap of more than 30 days),
then the individual was eligible for an airport or airline identification
badge, which provided them access to certain security areas on an airport
and in many cases, to aircraft. However, a basic check to see if the indi-
vidual presently had a warrant out for their arrest was still not required.
If there were gaps of more than 30 days that could not be accounted for,
it triggered a fingerprint-based criminal history record check. Fingerprints
were taken by the airport or airline operator and sent to the FBI. The
process could take up to three months before the results of the check were
returned. It was estimated only 3 percent of the badged US airport worker
workforce had ever undergone the fingerprint check.
After 9/11, ATSA required that all airport workers undergo the fingerprint
check; however, the government clearly did not have the bandwidth to handle
the tens of thousands of background checks that can occur on a daily basis.
Again, it was the private sector, in this case an industry trade association,
that helped resolve the problem. The American Association of Airport
Executives (AAAE) established the Transportation Security Clearinghouse
(TSC), which provided a pass-through and a quality check for airport and air
carrier operators conducting the fingerprint check, to the FBI and eventu-
ally, when the Security Threat Assessment process was added, the TSA.
For years, the TSC vetted fingerprints and badge applications, assisted
airport operators with fingerprints that were unreadable, or for individuals
who did not have fingerprints due either to genetics or work history (such
as pavement work, which can rub fingerprints off over time), and accepted
payment to the FBI on behalf of the requesting entity. Today, AAAE still
provides this service but now has other private sector competitors, which
are collectively known as Designated Aviation Channeler (DAC).
Access control systems can prevent access by unauthorized personnel,
only to the extent that the holder of the issued airport identification badge
maintains possession of their badge and does not loan it out to others, and
prevents its loss or theft. ICAO and US regulations requires that an airport
access control system have no more than this single layer of validation in
order to access the security area of an airport. Many airport operators
have voluntarily added a second layer to their access control system in the
form of a Personal Identification Number (PIN), so that accessing a door
or gate requires both a badge and the entry of the PIN. But if someone
knows that PIN number of an airport worker, and has their airport identi-
fication badge, they can still gain access. This system also does not prevent
the loaning of the badge to a third party.

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76 Air transport security

A few airport operators, who desire the highest level of access control,
have added biometrics to their access control systems. Biometrics require a
baseline measurement of an individual’s data points, using their face, fin-
gerprint, eye, voice, hand or other distinct component. An access control
system that uses biometrics often requires first that the airport identifica-
tion badge be presented to the access control reader along with a PIN,
which lets the system know whose biometrics are about to be presented.
The individual then presents their hand, finger etc., depending on the bio-
metric in use, which is then compared to their biometric data on file with
the airport credentialing office. While not impossible to defeat, biometrics
greatly reduces the chances of an individual loaning their badge, or of a
badge being used by someone other than the badge holder. The rise in the
use of biometrics in the aviation security industry can also be traced to the
private sector, specifically the casino industry.
With the exception of some early adopters, such as San Francisco
International Airport, which has had a hand scan biometric system since
1993, biometrics were in widespread use at casinos (mostly passive facial
recognition), long before their use spread to the airport industry. Casino
operators are concerned with individuals that may attempt to cheat the
system or gain an advantage over the casino, such as blackjack players
that use a card counting strategy, but are also interested in providing a
higher level of customer service to their big players. A player who feels
they are treated better will stay at the casino longer, and casino owners
know that the longer they play, the more the casino earns. Biometrics at
the hotel check-in or throughout the casino can allow operators to spot
card cheats, card counters and identify high value customers (Powell et
al., 2003).
In the early days of airport access control systems, the airport ID
badge was primarily understood to be ‘the badging process’. With the
addition of background checks, that includes criminal history, intelligence
checks through various databases and wants and warrants checks, along
with government credentialing standards, the process morphed into ‘the
credentialing process’. Today, technologies have created efficiencies not
previously available, allowing the industry to move to the concept of
‘identity management’.
Identity management is an integrated credentialing process that reduces
the redundancies of having to conduct data entry on an individual multiple
times. Once an individual’s personal information is entered into a database,
various other approved entities can access the database in order to take
actions, such as approving the issuance of an airport identification badge,
approving a change to the individual’s access authority, or approving
access to another area, such as the customs area of an airport. Many

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The role of the private sector for air transport security ­77

private sector companies now provide identity management technologies

and solutions for airport and air carrier operators.
However, the interoperability required for successful identity manage-
ment system leave the system vulnerable to cyber-attacks. This leads to
another use of private sector expertise, in the form of white hat hackers,
and information technology specialists who are necessary to protect the
identity management systems.

Perimeter Intrusion Detection Systems (PIDS)

Airports are required under both safety and security regulations to pre-
vent access of unauthorized personnel onto the airfield. Most often this
requirement is fulfilled by using a perimeter fence averaging 7–9 feet in
height, with some form of barbed wire over the top. Airports with higher
levels of intrusions, or at higher risk, may have additional delaying fences,
and in some cases, PIDS, but these are not required by US federal law.
Airport breaches onto the airfield are actually fairly common – the
vast majority are either innocent mistakes, or intentional access either to
attempt to chase down an aircraft that is departing without them, or to
take a shortcut from one area to another without having to walk around
or drive around the airport. Also, there have been numerous instances of
drunk drivers following an authorized vehicle through a perimeter gate, or
in some extreme cases, driving through a perimeter gate and on to the air-
field. In one notable incident at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York,
an individual who was jet skiing in the waters off the coast of the airport
ran out of fuel, at night. He swam to the shore of the airport, climbed the
security fence, which did include a PIDS in place (a motion sensor system,
which may have failed to activate or the alarm was ignored), and made
his way all the way to an aircraft before encountering an airline employee.
Another notable incident occurred at the San Jose Airport in California
when an individual jumped the airport perimeter fence and accessed a
commercial flight, stowing away in the wheel well, and somehow survived
the journey all the way to Hawaii where he was discovered.
However, with few exceptions there have not been many attacks on
aviation by individuals coming through the perimeter locations, which has
resulted in the low-level of acceptance of PIDS in the industry. The private
sector offers a variety of PIDS, including virtual fences, fence mounted
sensor systems, video surveillance systems (both in the visual spectrum and
infrared) and even mobile detection systems using unmanned ground and
air vehicles (e.g. drones). The private sector already has the technology
and solutions should Contracting States or ICAO require the inclusion of
PIDS at airports.

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78 Air transport security

ICAO guidance on Annex 17 related to access control encourages the

application of access control systems to use the security principle of
‘defense in depth’, whereby limited security resources are allocated for
the protection of the most likely target, with layers radiating outwards.
The most likely target in aviation is the scheduled passenger aircraft. This
established a situation where airport operators must not only control
access to the airfield, but also control access within the airfield.
Individuals operating in lesser secured areas, such as general aviation
areas and cargo areas, are typically restricted by regulation from accessing
the commercial service areas of the airport, so airport operators must
identify systems, measures and procedures to ensure the personnel stay on
their side of the field. Computerized access control systems can provide
some of the control through the use of vehicle gates on the airfield that are
provided with a form of card reader access, but there is little, other than
the concept of time and distance, to prevent an individual from accessing
the lesser secured areas, and moving across the runway/taxiway system,
to the commercial service areas. Some airport operators have experimented
with various private sector technologies, such as video and electronic sur-
veillance and detection systems, in an attempt to prevent such an intrusion.
The private security sector, as represented by the American Society
of Industrial Security (ASIS), and other similar organizations, have
developed numerous technologies for the defense of physical facilities
and infrastructure, many of which are migrating to use at commercial
service airports. ASIS also provides a training and certification process for
individuals desiring to learn how to implement security measures.



A prime example of the use of private technology in the aircraft operator

domain is the cockpit door. Prior to 9/11, many cockpit doors consisted of
a simple lock that was rather easily defeated, and the door itself was rather
thin. However, at the time aircraft operators were more concerned that
their flight crew be was able to evacuate the cockpit in the event of a crash,
than they were about hijackings. Post-9/11 brought many new security
requirements for aircraft operators requiring reinforced cockpit doors,
video surveillance of the cabin in some cases, and comprehensive locking
mechanisms to prevent easy access by hijackers.
Aircraft manufacturers (i.e. the private sector) were responsible for
retrofitting existing airframes with doors meeting the standards of the
Contracting State, and incorporating requirements into new aircraft

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The role of the private sector for air transport security ­79

designs. Reinforced cockpit doors must be designed to allow emergency

access by response personnel and emergency egress by flight crew during
or after a crash. However, such override systems backfired when a first
officer on a Germanwings flight locked the captain out of the cockpit,
and descended the aircraft into the French Alps killing everyone on board.
While the technology industry sought out technical solutions, the simple
solution in this case is likely a procedural change, to not allow a pilot to be
in the cockpit by his or herself at any time during the flight.8
Secondary flight deck barrier protection is another notable use of
private sector technology. A secondary flight deck barrier is a metal screen
that is pulled across the aisle at the bulkhead point, effectively locking out
all passengers during the time the cockpit door is accessed. Some airlines
asked manufacturers to install these protections after 9/11, but they are not
presently required on most aircraft.
Another area where the aircraft operator is critical to aviation security is
the implementation of surface-to-air missile defense systems. While there
have been few attacks on commercial service aircraft from the surface-to-
air missiles, it is an existing threat to the aviation industry. Two US air
carriers, American Airlines and FedEx engaged in tests of flare-based
anti-missile systems, which were primarily developed for military aircraft
by private contractors. Unfortunately, the flare-based system requires put-
ting a number of magnesium flares on a commercial service aircraft, which
may increase the risk of deadly in-flight fire beyond the risk of a surface-
to-air missile. Northrup, Raytheon and other companies have developed
laser-based anti-missile systems, again following designs used on military
aircraft. While the systems have been proven effective in tests and are used
on some civil aircraft fleets throughout the world, the existing threat level
is not at a level to justify the costs involved in requiring that all commercial
aircraft be equipped with such systems.
Aircraft manufacturers will continue to be a significant component of
future aviation security technologies on airplanes, particularly as global
positioning systems replace radar, as well as cyber security considerations
to prevent the unauthorized takeover of an aircraft from a ground station,
or the ability of a cyber attacker to send erroneous communications or
navigation information to the cockpit of a commercial flight.


ICAO calls for the patrol by security guards and/or police of the entire
airport and its surroundings, and to be available to respond to incidents
of unlawful interference with aircraft or airport operations. In many cases,

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80 Air transport security

police personnel are provided by local municipalities but in some cases an

airport authority has been created and has its own police force. Depending
on the structure of the authority, these are sometimes considered the
private sector personnel.
The use of unarmed security officers can fulfill many airport security
functions. Given today’s threat conditions, armed security or sworn law
enforcement personnel are necessary to the security of a public use airport,
but law enforcement personnel are typically more expensive than an
unarmed security officer. Unarmed security personnel can be used to effect­
ively staff airport perimeter gates, conduct airfield patrol watching for
intrusions or signs of intrusion, conduct patrols of the terminal areas and
other public areas watching for signs of a disturbance, and immediately
notify the appropriate response assets. Security personnel can also respond
to alarms at airport doors and gates, to investigate whether there has been
a breach, freeing up armed police personnel to patrol and respond to areas
with higher security threats
Private security has long been a staple of physical facility security and
transportation security. Security personnel can staff security operations
centers and conduct dispatch and coordination functions for the airport
operator. While it is not expected that these individuals engage in physical
confrontation, their presence may serve as a deterrent to criminal or terror-
ist activity. Security officers are required by their job to watch for signs of
suspicious activities and report any suspicious behavior, violations of the
airport security program and any sign of threat to the airport.
Security officers can also be used in the TDC process, and many are
trained in the security questioning process and in how to detect suspicious
activity. Some airports also employ security personnel to help with security
screening queue line management, in an effort to decrease the security
screening wait time and improve customer service.
Some airports, and some international aircraft operators, employ private
security personnel who are armed to provide a higher level of deterrence,
or to better counter a violent threat. While in the US, air marshals
employed by the TSA fulfill this function on a commercial service aircraft,
along with other layers of protection. Historically, certain airlines have
employed either directly or through contract armed security personnel to
fly undercover on their aircraft.


One of the best defenses against unlawful acts of interference with civil
aviation is the ability to detect and stop an attack, long before it gets to the

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The role of the private sector for air transport security ­81

airport or the airplane. Unfortunately, many aviation security practitioners

currently in the field do not have the time to research and experiment to
discover new best practices and therefore must look to the private sector
and the academic community to develop systems, methods and procedures
to better protect the traveling public. In the US, even though many bridges
were built between intelligence agencies after 9/11, much of the intelligence
gathered and assessed at the level of the Contracting State, still does not
filter down to airport and airline operators.
The private sector hosts a variety of intelligence providing services that
are accessible through paid-access subscriptions. Companies such as SITE
Intelligence, and Stratfor provide threat assessments on areas throughout
the world and insights into local politics, the geopolitical realm. Some
publicly accessible periodicals can also be valuable sources of information
on aviation security, such as Aviation Security International magazine,
published out of the United Kingdom.
InfraGard is a partnership between the  FBI and the private sector,
and is an association of individuals who represent businesses, academic
institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies, and other partici-
pants dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile
acts against the US (FBI, n.d.). InfraGard provides members access to
information related to several sectors including the transportation systems
The academic practitioner is an important private sector component
to aviation security. In addition to writing textbooks and peer-reviewed
articles on aviation security practices, in order to advance the profession
and provide more knowledgeable personnel to the industry, some univer­
s­ities have provided valuable research for policymakers, and in some cases
practical applications of strategies. In the US, the National Safe Skies
Alliance funds peer-reviewed studies on many areas of aviation security.


Many non-profit and trade associations provide private sector support

to the aviation security industry. The Radio Technical Commission on
Aeronautics has been previously mentioned as one such example. Another
example is the Safe Skies Alliance, which provides reviews of technolo-
gies such as PIDS, and also sponsors the authorship of aviation security
procedural guides such as the Recommended Airport Security Guidance
for Airport Planning and Construction.
Safe Skies sponsors the Program for Applied Research in Airport
Security (PARAS), an industry-driven, applied research program that

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82 Air transport security

develops near-term practical solutions to security problems faced by

airport operators. PARAS is managed by Safe Skies, funded by the FAA,
and modeled after the Airport Cooperative Research Program of the
Transportation Research Board. Contractors conduct the research and are
selected through a competitive proposal process (PARAS Program/Safe
Skies, n.d.).
Some products already available from Safe Skies include: a guidebook
for criminal history record checks and bedding, a companion guide to the
US Customs and Border Protection’s airport technical design standards,
airport breach classification and best practices, an employee inspection
synthesis and a quick guide for airport cyber security.
After 9/11, the US TSA required airport operators, air carriers, and
indirect air carrier operators to be trained as security coordinators for
their company or operation. However, the government does not provide
such training; instead the training is provided by the private sector and in
many cases through industry trade organizations such as the AAAE, or
Airports Council International. The trade organizations also assist airport
and aircraft operators with representation with policymakers, and often
provide seminars in meetings to allow a community of practitioners to
share best practices.


The private sector has long played an important role in securing aviation.
The international model for screening is characterized by the use of private
sector personnel providing front-line screening and security functions
supported by government employed police personnel for those times when
armed intervention is necessary. The use of private sector personnel is cost
effective for the airport and aircraft operators, but their use in the US was
called into question after September 11, 2001. While the 9/11 Commission
did not point to screening as a security failure that resulted in the attacks,
it did point to significant shortcomings in their overall performance.
However, in an industry with tight profit margins (i.e. aircraft operators)
or when public funds are involved (airport operators in certain circum-
stances) performance will meet, but not exceed, regulatory requirements.
The requirements for private contracts in the US pre-9/11 were well below
the levels required in many European countries.
While the US TSA and US law allow for privatized screeners both public
sentiment and reluctance on the behalf of airport operators, along with a
lengthy and difficult approval process through TSA, has resulted in very
slow growth of private sector screening providers.

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The role of the private sector for air transport security ­83

Security screening and airport access control and credentialing (e.g.

identity management) technologies are primarily provided by private
sector industries, but in order to be effective, there must be trust between
the government and private sector so that industry can develop technol­
ogies to meet existing and projected threats. Additionally, access control
and identity management systems must be protected from cyber-attack
in order to remain effective. Perimeter security also falls under the general
heading of security technologies. While there have been few attacks on
aviation where attackers have access the airfield or aircraft by way of
the perimeter (compared to other pathways), the industry is seeing a rise
in perimeter intrusions. The industry is seeing more companies develop-
ing perimeter intrusion products for the aviation industry, but without a
regulatory requirement, few airport operators have shown an interest in
adopting them.
The role of private industry in research and development is critical to
identifying evolving threats and counterterrorism measures. Government-
funded research projects conducted by academia, non-profit and trade
associations, and in some cases research firms and for-profit corporations
have provided (and continue to provide) a body of best practices for the
aviation security industry.
Private companies can often provide efficiencies in cost, innovation,
and timely delivery of technologies and personnel, which are not possible
within the government ranks. Additionally, while policymakers create
the policies, and airports and aircraft operators are expected to carry out
the requirements of those policies, it is the private sector that develops the
technologies and provides the personnel needed to fulfill the regulatory


1. It was later established by the US National Transportation Safety Board that TWA 800
was an aircraft accident.
2. The FAA did not expressly prohibit knives with blades under four inches, as the agency
did not consider knives to be menacing, most local laws allowed carriage of such knives,
and many knives would have been difficult to detect unless the sensitivity of the metal
detecting technologies in use at the time was greatly increased – which would also have
had the effect of slowing down the screening lines (Kean and Hamilton, 2004, p. 84).
3. The security system is not set up to detect fake weapons or bombs, particularly if they are
innocuous items that are later constructed, post checkpoint, to resemble an explosive device.
4. Categories related to the number of annual passenger boardings, known as enplanements.
5. Category notations are at the time of the 2001 ATSA passage.
6. Notably, TSA does not report the performance of the checkpoints staffed by TSA per-
sonnel, so it is difficult to determine if ‘average performer’ is above or below TSA-staffed

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84 Air transport security

7. A state-controlled company or enterprise.

8. The US procedure is to swap out the flight crew member with a flight attendant for the
duration of the time the pilot is out of the cockpit.


FBI (n.d.). ‘16 Critical Infrastructures’. Retrieved May 2, 2016, from https://www.
GAO (2001). ‘Aviation Security: Terrorist Acts Demonstrate Urgent Need to
Improve Security at the Nation’s Airports’. US General Accounting Office 2001:
No. GAO-01-1162T.
Gore, A. (1997). White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, Final
Report to President Clinton. Retrieved from
ICAO (2011).  International Civil Aviation Organization: Annex 17  (9th edn).
Montreal: ICAO.
Kean, T.H. and L. Hamilton (2004).  The 9/11 Commission Report. Washington,
DC: National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States.
McCartney, S. (2016, April 28). ‘The Air-traffic System US Airlines Wish They
Had’. The Wall Street Journal, pp. D1–D2.
PARAS Program/Safe Skies (n.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2016, from https://www.
Powell, G.L., L.A. Tyska and L.J. Fennelly (2003). Casino Surveillance and Security:
150 Things You Should Know. Alexandria, VA: ASIS International.
Price, J.C. and J.S. Forrest (2013).  Practical Aviation Security: Predicting and
Preventing Future Threats (2nd edn). Waltham, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.
RTCA (2015).  Standards for Airport Security Access Control Systems  (Rep. No.
RTCA DO-230F). Washington DC: RTCA.
RTCA (2016). Online Store. Retrieved May 1, 2016, from
Sylves, R.T. (2015). Disaster Policy and Politics: Emergency Management and
Homeland Security (2nd edn). Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Trento, S.B. and J.J. Trento (2006).  Unsafe at Any Altitude: Failed Terrorism
Investigations, Scapegoating 9/11, and the Shocking Truth about Aviation Security
Today. Hanover, NH: Steerforth Press.

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6.  The challenge of air cargo security
Douglas Brittin


The world has changed dramatically in the past 25 years, with the need for
increased security an ever-present factor. Although the air cargo industry
(the ‘Industry’) continues to grow and remains a robust and integral ele-
ment of global commerce, changes in security requirements have imposed
a high cost along the way. It is nearly impossible to calculate the millions
of dollars the Industry has spent, especially in the past 10 years, as a result
of continually increasing security measures required by regulators at the
global, regional, or national level. The current threat environment dictates
the need for secure measures, and through these the Industry can protect
its brands, assets and people, and of course the flying public.  As such,
Industry must continually strive for measures that find a balance between
good business practices and providing realistic results, while protecting the
high value of global commerce traveling the air cargo supply chain.


Air cargo has played an essential role in regional commerce since the earli-
est days of aviation. With the advent of the jet age, volumes have grown
dramatically, and while never approaching the volume of surface transport
(land or ocean), air cargo has played an increasingly important role in the
global supply chain.

In 2014, airlines transported 51.3 million metric tons of goods, representing

more than 35% of global trade by value but less than 1% of world trade by
volume. That is equivalent to USD6.8 trillion worth of goods annually, or
USD18.6 billion worth of goods every day.1

Air cargo transports virtually all commodities, with the exception of bulk
products. The highest value goods make up the vast majority of shipments.
These include products such as: high-technology items, p ­ harmaceuticals,


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86 Air transport security

perishable food products, oil and gas equipment, automotive and machine
parts, emergency supplies and artwork, as well as animals and athletic
equipment. Historically, mail (letters/documents as well as parcels and
packages) was a base commodity, with the latter increasing as the former
decreases. This is in large part due to the rapid increase in individual ship-
ments moving in the ‘e-commerce’ area. In remote areas, more mundane
products such as household goods and supplies now rely on air cargo.

Most people have personal electronic devices that were built using a global
supply chain linked by air. Amazon, Alibaba, eBay and other e-commerce
websites rely on the express delivery services made possible by aviation to get
those devices, and so much more, to their customers. Almost 340 billion letters
and 6.7 billion postal parcels are sent every year, and air transport plays an
essential role in their delivery.2

While most products are of an inert nature, a fair percentage is deemed to

be dangerous goods. These goods have either major restrictions limiting
them to freighter aircraft only, or the requirement of special handling


Air cargo is transported in a variety of different models that present vari-

ous security challenges. These three basic models are:

●● Passenger aircraft in both single aisle and wide-bodied aircraft,

where cargo is handled only below the passenger cabin (the ‘belly’)
similar to passenger baggage.
●● Freighter aircraft:
  ● Express carriers who operate large networks primarily dedi-
cated to door-to-door small packages (such as FedEx, UPS
and DHL Express and other regional companies).
  ●  Cargo Operators, who operate regularly scheduled service
essentially as a wholesaler, moving larger shipments on an
airport-to airport basis (such as Atlas Global, AirBridge Inc.,
Korean Air, and others).
●● Freighter aircraft operators who operate primarily on a non-sched-
uled charter basis (such as Volga-Dnepr, Chapman Freeborn and
Coyne Airways).

In all of these models cargo shipments are typically ‘containerized’, but

a significant number of larger shipments do not lend themselves to that

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The challenge of air cargo security ­87

configuration, and are shipped ‘loose’. On narrow body passenger aircraft,

very little containerization opportunities exist. Within the Industry, a
wide range of cargo containers, known as Unit Load Devices (ULDs) are
utilized, and are often specific to an aircraft type. These ULDs are further
segregated into two types: solid wall containers and flat metal units. The
former, commonly referred to as ‘cans’ or ‘pods’, easily allow numerous
smaller skids or pieces to be stacked within, while the latter, which are
typically referred to as ‘pallets’ or even ‘cookie sheets’, require specific
and proper civil aviation authority approved netting in order to secure the
cargo configuration to the ULD.
In all cases, the ULD is rolled onto the aircraft, and then secured to
the frame with locking pins to prevent moving and shifting during flight.
Some ULDs can be used on multiple aircraft types, while others are only
for specific aircraft types. For example, a ULD with a load capacity of
1,500 kilograms will fit within the belly of most wide-body aircraft, pas-
senger or freighter, but ULD pallets with a gross maximum weight of up
to 11,000 kilograms, designed for ‘upper deck’ usage on a freighter, cannot
be utilized in an aircraft belly, due both to the load bearing capacity of the
airframe and the contour of the aircraft body.
While the configuration of air cargo is often commonly thought of as
simply single packages, which are certainly prevalent in the business-to-
consumer as well as the consumer-to-consumer shipping environment,
the vast majority of shipments by weight that are transported globally
are of the more traditional model. In this business-to-business model, it is
not unusual for shipments to move via multiple ground handling partners
prior to flight.
Shippers, such as manufacturing or distribution companies, will typic­
ally rely on the expertise of a freight forwarder to handle the door-to-door
logistics for them. This is both for expedience and also due to the fact
that, other than express carriers, most passenger and freighter operators
prefer to handle cargo in a simple ‘airport-to-airport’ manner, since air
cargo is only an adjunct (but generally profitable) to their core business,
and they strive to minimize operating costs. The freight forwarder in turn
will ‘consolidate’ shipments from its multiple customers, thereby benefiting
from lower volumetric rates from the carriers they select.
Freight forwarders include major global companies such as DB Schenker,
Panalpina, Nippon Express, and Expeditors, while many smaller niche com-
panies offer specific solutions to their customers, and serve unique products
or markets. Globally there are thousands of such companies, including more
than 6,000 in the US alone. Adding to the complexity of air cargo security,
most forwarders outsource various handling portions of their business,
including containerization and ground transport used for shipment pickup,

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88 Air transport security

as well as transport to the carrier locations. As a result, it is far from a ‘closed

loop’ process, making security a difficult issue to manage.
For tracking as well as other purposes, express operators typically issue a
shipment number to each individual shipment, irrespective of the number
of pieces. Freight forwarders will normally assign each shipment a House
Air Waybill Number (HAWB), for consolidation onto the carrier’s Master
Air Waybill (MAWB). The MAWB is essentially a transport bill of lading
showing all of the HAWBs but only certain details of the actual shipment
contents. A MAWB may comprise a single or multiple HAWBs.


Security of air cargo has always been a factor within the Industry, given
the historic value of cargo shipped and the relatively open environment in
which it was transported. As evidenced by the theft of a major shipment
of cash and jewelry from the Lufthansa cargo terminal at New York City’s
Lufthansa facility in 1978, the relatively simple security measures then
in place were easily circumvented by insider knowledge. This event was
related to security of the product itself, not a threat to aviation. Special
protections and limitations of the transport of certain dangerous goods
were in the domain of the various civil aviation authorities. Considering
the current state of global security, it is hard to imagine an individual
being able to walk up to a passenger airline cargo counter and tender a
shipment, paying by cash, check or credit card, and showing identification
only primarily as a means to validate the payment. This was fairly common
throughout much of the world even into the 1990s.
In 1988, Pan Am flight 103 en route from London to Detroit was
destroyed over Lockerbie Scotland by the detonation of a bomb secreted
in luggage, timed for detonation once the aircraft was in flight. In the after-
math, aviation security from a regulatory perspective increased, but was still
primarily centered on passengers and passenger aircraft, and understand-
ably so. This targeted focus resulted in stronger security measures for air-
ports and airlines, but as these changes were largely confined to the airport
environment, the full air cargo supply chain was not significantly affected.
Industry recognized the need for enhanced measures to protect cargo,
especially with the increased volumes of high value products moving glob-
ally in support of the technology boom. As a result, new security processes
were developed and introduced with partners in the ground handling, cart-
age and forwarding sectors, but there was no great degree of commonality.
Companies across the board also began conducting background checks
on certain personnel, especially on employees with physical access to the

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The challenge of air cargo security ­89

cargo. These background checks, which in some cases included criminal as

well as credit checks, varied in depth and scope, but were also limited by
privacy and employment laws in some countries. Overall, the safety and
security of the cargo itself remained mostly the responsibility of Industry
rather than any centralized national regulations. Not many followed
Israel’s El Al airlines early lead of placing transport holds on shipments,
or utilizing detailed physical inspections.
By the mid-to-late 1990s, especially in the wake of the TWA flight 800
disaster after its departure from New York City’s JFK airport, where a bag-
gage or possibly cargo-related explosion was at first suspected, the security
of cargo from potential outside threats became a greater concern. Mindsets,
even among regulators (who primarily remained under civil aviation direct­
orates such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US), were
still focused mostly on protection of passengers and passenger aircraft. All-
cargo/freighter operations remained largely in the background. The threat
to either mode was still considered to be hijacking, but more thought and
emphasis was given to mitigating risk of explosive devices hidden in cargo.
Industry did begin to see a ramping upward of concerns about the
shipping community itself. Regulators started paying more attention to
this area and, in some countries, carriers (sometimes through their agents
or even forwarders), were asked to begin identifying, physically visiting,
validating and listing their shippers, through various types of programs. In
many countries, more severe restrictions were placed on ‘over-the-counter’
type shipments. At the same time Industry began to receive more require-
ments to at least ‘inspect’ shipments upon receipt by the carrier, requiring
them to look for any suspicious or obvious evidence of tampering.
However, this ‘inspection’ terminology was used and interpreted quite
loosely, as actual cargo ‘screening’ itself was not yet in the forefront of
collective vocabularies. In fact, there was a high degree of conflicting
language in many regulatory programs surrounding the proper definition
of screening, ranging from simple data and manifest checks, to physically
opening and searching shipments. Again, this was primarily focused on
cargo moving in passenger bellies, not on freighters or express carriers.
Mail shipments essentially remained just another commodity, with the
widespread assumption that the postal regulations in force took care of
security for that particular stream.


While it is the responsibility of any individual state to secure its air cargo
supply chain, it is also important for Industry that any regulations having

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90 Air transport security

an impact on global trade share common practices and objectives. Given

the speed at which air cargo moves, this is especially important. Much of
the global air cargo regulation process is driven by the International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN specialized agency. Dating to 1944,
ICAO was created to manage the administration and governance of the
Convention on International Civil Aviation (also known as the Chicago
Convention). In this role, it provides high level measures for aviation
security overall, and for air cargo specifically.
ICAO regulations are primarily contained within Annex 17, as ICAO’s
Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). Working with the
Convention’s 191 member states and Industry groups, such as the
International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Air
Cargo Association (TIACA), Airports Council International (ACI) and
other regional associations, it strives to gain consensus on international
civil aviation in the SARPs. 
SARP’s may take up to two years to develop, working through internal
departments (the Aviation Security Policy (ASP) Section) to the Aviation
Security and Facilitation Office, and the Aviation Security (AVSEC) Panel,
as well as with Industry. Using a method referred to as the ‘amendment’ or
‘standards-making’ processes, once finalized they are then moved forward
for adoption, or inclusion in an Annex. In certain situations this process
may be able to be expedited to a degree. Secure, detailed versions of
these amendments are published for Industry in a classified document, in
multiple languages. The most current version is referred to as ‘The Ninth
Edition of the Aviation Security Manual (Doc 8973/9 – Restricted).’
According to its mission statement:

In addition to its core work resolving consensus-driven international SARPs

and policies among its Member States and Industry, and among many other
priorities and programmes, ICAO also coordinates assistance and capacity
building for States in support of numerous aviation development objectives;
produces global plans to coordinate multilateral strategic progress for safety
and air navigation; monitors and reports on numerous air transport sector
performance metrics; and audits States’ civil aviation oversight capabilities in
the areas of safety and security.3

SARPs are not used directly to regulate any country, but are the common
structure to which any country will adhere if they engage in global air com-
merce, helping to secure the ‘more than 100,000 daily flights in aviation’s
global network to operate safely and reliably in every region of the world’.4
All member states utilize these SARPs, either implementing them as
written as their own baseline security measures, or framing their own,
often more extensive security programs from this foundation. The SARPs

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contain information not only on securing aviation facilities which handle

cargo, but also basic requirements for securing the supply chain itself, from
shipper (consignor) to destination (consignee).
Within the SARPs, numerous common definitions are set forth, such as
Known Consignor (a shipper) and Regulated Agent (freight forwarders).
This helps state regulators as well as Industry participants to understand
that certain measures are being taken on a common platform globally,
but there remains much flexibility within these definitions and the imple-
mentation of the details by state. As an example, many countries refer to
shippers within their own programs by a wide variety of names, such as:
Known Shipper, Regulated Shipper, Certified Shipper, Trusted Shipper,
Registered Shipper, as well as others. To further complicate the issue, the
actual physical requirements of each of these various descriptions and
programs covers a diverse and wide range of differing practices, ranging
from minimal security measures at the shipper facility, to full screening
procedures conducted there. Similar challenges arise in the regulatory
requirements within states for Regulated Agents. Basic guidelines for train-
ing are also included, but the details of such training are also further left to
each member state to develop and implement.
The structure and intensity of each state’s overall security program
also vary greatly. Some states mirror the SARPs, some restructure the
documents with their own material included, and others merely use the
SARPs as a point of reference. In the European Union (EU) for example,
the dissemination of air cargo regulation falls under the jurisdiction of
the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE). This
central group establishes the full criteria and programs for security, and
then disseminates this material as a basic requirement for all EU member
states. However, each state’s Civil Aviation authority within the EU retains
the flexibility to implement these regulations in the manner it sees as a best
fit, thus still leaving a certain measure of inconsistency across the EU.
Within the US, the implementation of air cargo security measures, once
under the purview of the FAA, have come under the regulatory authority
of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) since its inception
following the events of September 11, 2001. Based upon either legislation,
or identified/perceived threats and vulnerabilities, the TSA’s Office of
Security Policy and Industry Engagement, (OSPIE) along with its Office
of Global Strategies (OGS) develop the security programs for both domes-
tic and international (import as well as export) air cargo movement. This
has evolved into separate Standard Security Programs (SSPs) for various
elements of aviation: passenger carriers (with further distinctions for US
and non-US carriers), freighter operators (with the same national distinc-
tions), small general aviation cargo operators, and freight forwarders. The

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latter are referred to as Indirect Air Carriers (IACs) in the US, rather than
Regulated Agents. Since many freight forwarders engage in ocean freight
or other logistics services, only some of them fall under the scope of the
IAC SSPs. More recently, shippers have been added under a voluntary, but
still fully regulated program.
Most of the regulations implemented have been very prescriptive,
with specific actions and procedures carefully spelled out. More recently,
some states have attempted to move toward more of an ‘outcome based’
approach, working with Industry to set specific security objectives, and
then allowing companies to develop their own measures through which
to attain the desired result. While generally welcomed by Industry, this
approach remains a challenge, as it leaves security measures and their
effectiveness open to interpretation by inspectors.


With global threats to aviation continuing to emerge, especially in the wake

of 9/11, an increasing awareness grew from global regulators regarding the
potential vulnerabilities in air cargo. This was mostly focused on the risks
of transporting air cargo on passenger aircraft, and less so for freighters.
As noted earlier, one of the most basic challenges identified in the mid-
1990s was the true identification of shippers, and the relative security (or
lack thereof) during the transport of shipments prior to flight. Some states
developed lists of acceptable shippers for transport on passenger aircraft
only. Other states allowed airlines or forwarders to categorize and validate
shipper locations.
The ICAO definitions of Known Consignor were modified, and adapted
to allow only shipments from this group of shippers to move via passenger
aircraft. Other definitions such as Account Consignors were given to
shippers in general, only allowing their cargo to be transported on cargo
aircraft. The latter was especially useful with the millions of individual
shippers who utilized the express networks, and also for parcel mail ship-
ments. This distinction has led to further complications when Account
Consignor shipments are later transferred to a passenger carrier for
operational expedience, which happens frequently.
Further attention was given to developing methods to secure cargo
while in transport on the ground; from shipper to forwarder; forwarder to
ground handler; and handler to air carrier. This was designed to protect
this vulnerability from outside interference. Secure methods of logging,
inspecting and segregating cargo were developed and implemented into
security programs, again increasing the involvement and role of Regulated

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Agents. Additional concern also arose from regulators about potential

‘insider threats’, and measures were further put in place to require back-
ground checks, including criminal history and the use of terrorist watch
lists available to governments, for all employees operating in the air cargo
supply chain.
Until the early 2000s, screening of air cargo was minimal at best. While
some carriers implemented extensive measures due to their own security
needs, most only followed the basic requirement to ‘inspect’ shipments,
and look for obvious signs of tampering. By some estimates, in the US, up
until the passage of the Implementing the Recommendations of the 9/11
Commission Act in 2007, less than 10 percent of the cargo transported on
passenger aircraft, domestically as well as export, was actually screened at
all. The passage of that law required screening of 100 percent of cargo on
passenger aircraft, to be implemented by 2010.
Actual cargo screening proved to be an even greater challenge. Many
regulators unfamiliar with the Industry were of the view that all cargo
shipments looked like the express package they sent or received, and could
be relatively easily screened in a process similar to that used for baggage.
While this was of course true for the majority of such express shipments,
it was far from the reality for cargo transported in the bellies of passenger
aircraft, or on freighters or charter operations. These shipments were
typically much larger, comprised multiple pieces per individual shipment,
and were typically already shrink-wrapped on skids or pallets, or fully
containerized, prior to being tendered to the airline. Further complicating
the equation was the multitude of odd or oddly-shaped commodities, such
as drums of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, large machinery and other high
value products, some of which could not have any packaging compromised
due to other health, safety, or technical reasons.
Screening this cargo with processes akin to the measures applied to pas-
senger baggage, was extremely impractical. Baggage moving on a conveyor
belt, and of typically common size, is much more conducive to X-ray or
other technologies. New regulations required cargo screening only on
a level deemed commensurate with baggage screening, which of course
meant at the individual piece level. More importantly, while all baggage is
for the most part screened by civil aviation authorities, on airport property,
cargo screening was mostly deemed to be the responsibility of the aviation
industry itself.
Airport screening alone was not a supportable model for air cargo
since it would entail airlines either refusing to accept consolidated cargo
shipments and configurations, or charging fees to forwarders to break
such configurations apart. Either option would add both cost and time
(in addition to any actual fees to screen the shipments) and it became

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quickly apparent that the desires and goals of legislators and regulators
were not readily transferrable to the operational and practical reality of
the air cargo industry. Convincing regulators that baggage and cargo were
more dissimilar than similar was not an easy task. Although Industry fully
understood the reasons and underlying need behind the new regulations,
implementation was not easy.
As a result of these challenges, some states began to expand their
regulatory authority to enable screening cargo further ‘upstream’ from the
airlines or airport. Forwarders and Regulated Agents, based on additional
measures put in place, on a strictly voluntary basis, have been allowed
to actually screen the cargo prior to its consolidation and tender to the
airline. In even more limited cases, shippers too have become voluntarily
regulated, so that they can screen cargo within the packing and ship-
ping process, thus avoiding damage to products and packaging later on.
However, this is a very limited subset of the shipping community. In the
US, for example, fewer than 1,400 shipper locations are certified for this
capability, out of millions of air cargo shippers. All of this also entailed
additional, more secure methods of transport prior to air transport, and
additional detailed regulations were put in place to cover acceptance and
verification procedures.
The wide variety of programs and procedures, coupled with wide vari-
ations in the approval of screening technology, adds operational as well as
capital cost to Industry. A carrier (or forwarder for that matter) that oper-
ates globally must be compliant with the wide range of security programs
for each country in which they operate, and must train its employees for all
of them. Recent initiatives among some state regulators to more effectively
recognize and harmonize their respective programs have been helpful, but
still remain a challenge.



As the requirements to screen cargo increased, regulators and Industry

also began to learn more about the capabilities as well as the limitations of
technology, and what might be useful or even effective for the various types
of cargo configurations and commodities. New technologies have emerged,
moving well beyond the primitive decompression chambers which could
not detect, but could likely detonate, any pressure sensitive/altimeter
based explosive devices. The somewhat common earlier conception of any
explosive device (improvised or not) was along the lines of a TNT-based
or plastic explosive, which might have anomalous wiring exposed, and/or

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a somewhat primitive timing or pressure sensitive detonation device. The

process of ‘holding’ cargo was also determined to be ineffective, and was
eliminated in most security programs, as were decompression chambers.
X-ray equipment originally designed for baggage began to be used, but
was primarily used for smaller packages and boxes, due to the limited
aperture size of the units themselves. Of course the units themselves were
relatively primitive, single view, monochromatic technologies, and were not
particularly fast. Training on the usage of the equipment, as well as image
interpretation and resolution by the operators of the equipment, was a
long process, with continual retraining required as well.
Physical search of shipments was further expanded into the cargo
­environment, with procedures similar to those used to screen checked
baggage. However, this was not only extremely labor intensive, it was
particularly disruptive to product packaging and led to damage and claims
issues from shippers and consignees. To date, while still considered valid
and effective, it is seldom used except in locations with extremely small
cargo volumes where equipment is not considered to be cost effective.
As a result of these new and increasing screening requirements, technol-
ogy began to improve, with new technologies introduced, such as multi-
view, multi-color X-ray units, many of them with increased power to better
penetrate dense cargo, and also with bigger apertures through which larger
shipments could fit. Even these newer technologies are limited, as a ULD
filled with multiple commodities is extremely difficult to view effectively
and receive a clear image of the contents. Even X-ray screening of single
commodities, such as melons, or of seafood packed in shaved ice cannot
always be effectively cleared, due to the physical density. Screening larger
configurations, such as those on skids or in ULDs is still prohibited in
most security programs.
Other technologies, such as explosive trace detection (ETD) units began
to gain broad acceptance, and were fairly widely adopted due to lower
initial cost. ETD units are hand-held wands which can detect trace particle
residue amounts of explosives. To be fully effective, the wand must be
inserted into the actual detection unit after each ‘swipe’. While also a time
consuming method, requiring multiple swipes of boxes (and appropriate
supplies of swipe pads), they still provide a lower cost and more efficient
method than physical inspection, even when security programs require
opening the boxes and obtaining internal samples.
A more recent technology has been the use of powerful new metal
detectors, which are effective since virtually all explosive devices will have
some metal component, even if only in the triggering device. They have
been proven capable of detecting minuscule amounts of metal even in large
cargo configurations, such as multiple boxes packed onto skids. These have

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been especially efficient in the effective screening of perishable products,

such as fruits and vegetables, as well as pharmaceuticals. This has led to
the design of special packaging, including skids, to eliminate any metal
content. They are in fact so sensitive to trace metals that many seemingly
straightforward commodities such as printed materials, which are typically
too dense to produce a clean X-ray image, cannot be screened using this
technology, simply due to the minuscule amounts of metal in the ink.
The use of canines has also increased on a global basis, as they are the
most effective method with which to screen pre-configured/consolidated
cargo, as well as odd-shaped commodities such as machine parts, auto-
motive engines or transmissions, and oil field equipment banded to
skids. Canines are operated by trained and regulated handlers, either by
government entities, or in some cases by private approved and regulated
companies. Similar to drug-sniffing dogs, they are specifically trained to
detect trace residuals from a wide range of known explosives. They are,
however, limited by the number of hours they can be on duty and remain
effective, and both the animals and their trainers require continual recur-
rent training. As with other forms of screening, this intense activity also
comes at a high operating cost.
The need to test and validate the effectiveness of screening equipment
is an ongoing issue. In most states that research is directed by the regula-
tory agencies, and is a costly and time consuming process for technology
providers. The latter are often asked to design and develop prototype units,
with no guarantee that they will be accepted by the regulators. Industry
cannot utilize any equipment which has not met this approval process.
Further complicating the issue is that, while some technology providers
are global in scope, not all regulators accept the same types of equipment.
Even if they do, they may require variations of the algorithms used within
the software, negating the efficiencies of any larger scale production that
might help reduce cost.


Given the complexities and costs of securing and screening air cargo
globally, the process would still be relatively simple and straightforward
if all shipments were moving strictly from Point A to Point B, with no
inter­mediate stops. Unfortunately that is far from the norm, especially for
global movement of goods. Even within a seemingly concise geography
such as the US, China or Brazil, where domestic air cargo is widely used,
a typical shipment will make multiple stops, moving via ground transport,
feeder aircraft, and perhaps even through one or more transfer hubs. All of

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this is invisible and seamless to the shipper and consignee. This is especially
true in the express mode, but also within the passenger operator environ-
ment. Most of them still use the hub-and-spoke model for efficiencies of
filling passenger seats, so cargo follows the same flow.
Further complications abound in the global arena. A shipment moving
in the passenger model from Durban, South Africa, will be picked up by
a local freight forwarder, may fly on a domestic South African airline,
be transferred to an international carrier at Johannesburg, be flown to
Frankfurt (with perhaps intermediate stops and aircraft transfers), be fur-
ther transferred to a US flag carrier for uplift to Chicago, and then even be
transferred to a regional US carrier for its last leg to Minot, North Dakota.
A shipment moving via a freighter aircraft may be routed similarly. Despite
common perceptions, express shipments may also move via passenger air-
craft in multiple legs prior to being transported in the express carrier’s own
equipment, or even be transferred from the express carrier to a passenger
carrier at some intermediate point, based on capacity issues in its own fleet.
Even with the global standards established by ICAO, it is extremely dif-
ficult for state regulators to understand and accept that the proper security
measures have been uniformly applied throughout the process. How can
they verify the background checks at the origin location? (And that issue
is also sensitive, as many country’s privacy laws actually limit the use of
such checks.) How do they know that the security measures have been
thoroughly applied at each airport transfer point? Even in circumstances
where a single carrier is involved end-to-end, it is difficult to verify that all
is as it should be.
Typically, regulatory authorities at the destination country develop
security programs not only for cargo uplifted within their countries, but
they also have legal jurisdiction to implement security measures for cargo
moving into their state. In the latter case, this authority only extends
from the Last Point of Departure (LPD) inbound, so they must rely on
the practices put in place by other states to a large degree. If they are not
fully comfortable with the process, shipments which have made multiple
stops en route, and built up in large ULDs (upper or lower decks), may be
required to be off-loaded, taken apart, and the pieces individually and fully
screened in accordance with the destination country’s regime at the LPD.
For the carrier who has transported that shipment, this leads to the neces-
sity of following multiple security procedures for the very same shipment:
one at the origin, one at the transfer point, and one in accordance with the
security program of the country of destination. All of this comes at a high
cost in time and labor.
To help mitigate this to the greatest degree possible, many countries have
worked toward mutual recognition agreements. Under these agreements,

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98 Air transport security

regulators from both (or multiple) states will share their respective security
programs, allow initial and ongoing inspections to ensure compliance, and
then formally accept each other’s programs for ‘upstream’ shipments on an
inbound basis. This has proven beneficial for carriers operating through
the major cargo hubs in Europe, North American and other countries,
which account for a large percentage of global air cargo flows, but is still
limited to a great degree.
Following all of the changes to security programs following 9/11,
which were primarily aimed at securing cargo transported on passenger
aircraft, regulators were somewhat taken aback at the apparent ease with
which terrorists were able to exploit security measures for shipments
moving into the express mode from certain origins. Certainly the most
significant disruptive event was the October 2010 computer printer
bombs tendered and transported (via both passenger and all-cargo/
express aircraft). Two separate shipments were tendered by individuals
to UPS and FedEx facilities in Sana’a, Yemen, for movement to the
US. They were essentially the same; boxes with the contents described
as ‘printers and household goods’, a not uncommon description for
personal shipments. However, each printer contained a standard printer
cartridge, packed with high explosives, with a timing triggering device
utilizing mobile phone technology, artfully wired and soldered into the
printers. They were first flown via a passenger plane operated by Yemen
Air to the express operator’s hubs in the Middle East, where they were
transferred to the respective express carriers’ own operations. Both
routed them via their hubs in Europe for ongoing shipment to the US.
X-ray screening used at the initial hubs did not detect any anomaly, as the
tradecraft involved in the creation of these improvised explosive devices
(IEDs) was light years ahead of the common perceptions of even just a
few years earlier. Both shipments were fortunately intercepted only by
the availability of intelligence provided by friendly sources, averting a
potential disaster in the air.
While this led to some initial dramatic responses by regulatory author­
ities, Industry also began to see an even greater willingness to collaborate
between regulators and Industry. As this so-called ‘Yemen incident’ was
clearly targeted at the US and two of its airlines (with the plot fully
reported in Al-Qaeda’s online Inspire Magazine), the US took an early lead
in developing a targeted, risk-based program known as Air Cargo Advance
Screening (ACAS). It began the process in early 2011 with a pilot program
involving express, freighter, and passenger carriers, as well as a number of
global freight forwarders. Rather than having a focus simply on the validity
and security of a shipper, this program was designed to analyze the risk for
each individual shipment.

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The challenge of air cargo security ­99

The TSA and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agencies

collaborated on a concept of utilizing existing shipment data for this
process. Since carriers were already required by other customs regulations
to file data on each shipment prior to the aircraft arriving in the US, the
agencies collaborated to determine if a subset of the full data filing could
be used, and if it could be filed prior to departure from the LPD into the
US. TSA and CBP settled on a set of data that includes: shipper name and
address; consignee name and address; shipment description, pieces and
weight; and the HAWB. The latter was deemed essential in order to locate
the individual shipment within the carrier’s physical location, as part of a
MAWB. A joint targeting center was established near Washington, DC, to
analyze the transmitted data, with a certain amount of automated process-
ing that tied into previous import shipments. Any anomalies in these basic
parameters or patterns, as well as incomplete or inaccurate information,
required an intervention by the personnel at the center. In these cases, the
center would ask either for confirmation of the method of screening, or
that additional screening be done and confirmed, all prior to departure.
Accuracy and completeness of the data were a challenge early in the
pilot, as well as linking various proprietary IT systems managed by the
airlines to the CBP system enabling rapid two-way transmission of data.
In addition, it was seen that it was extremely important to enable the
forwarding community to file data directly to the targeting center, in
advance of tendering the cargo physically to the carriers, so that the risk
determination could be made prior to consolidating or containerizing the
shipments. This then required a parallel transmission among all parties, so
the carriers would know if the shipment had been analyzed and cleared.
The technical issues of this ‘dual-filing’ are not yet fully resolved as of
this writing, and the issue is further compounded by the fact that, despite
mutual recognition between the US and a number of countries (including
the EU), if those programs do not allow the forwarder/Regulated Agent to
actually screen cargo, then those shipments cannot be consolidated, and
the carrier must still ultimately screen it at its facility.
In the US, since the pilot program’s inception in January 2011 and mid-
2016, over 350 million shipments have been analyzed, the vast majority from
within the express community. A relatively small percentage (single digits)
have been reviewed and referred for either additional data, or the additional
screening, but no explosives have been detected. In order to fully imple-
ment the pilot into a regulatory program, CBP must first issue a Notice of
Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for public and Industry comment, or a
rule modification which would then require the submission of the data in
advance. Following that, TSA would need to modify both its existing SSPs
for carriers, and review its mutual recognition agreements for consistency.

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100 Air transport security

While the US has been undertaking its pilot, the EU as well as Canada
have been pursuing similar programs. The EU, with only minimal actual
testing, has now issued draft regulations, requiring the implementation
of the European version of ACAS, called PREloading Consignment
Information for Secure Entry (PRECISE), by 2020. As the EU has not
established a central targeting center for its program, carriers operating
into the multiple EU countries have to establish numerous data link
systems, adding to the cost and burden. Canada’s version, called Preload
Air Cargo Targeting (PACT) is not yet within the regulation develop-
ment phase. Other countries have expressed interest, but are awaiting
the outcome of further testing among the existing three programs before
For Industry, it is essential that these programs mirror each other to the
greatest degree possible. If they do not, then the potentially different data
elements, mitigation and resolution procedures within each one would
prove to be untenable for the large numbers of shipments that would tran-
sit the multiple advance data regimes. Industry associations and members,
along with the World Customs Organization (WCO) and ICAO, have
thus developed a Joint Working Group on Advance Data Information, to
harmonize these programs under a common platform, called Pre-Loading
Advance Data Information (PLACI). The group has met regularly since
mid-2014, and based on pilot testing in the US as well as the draft regula-
tions in the EU, has identified numerous technical and operational issues
that will need full resolution in order to achieve this goal. Despite the
challenges, for the first time there is a new channel of cooperation between
civil aviation and customs authorities, both at the state level, and also at the
ICAO and WCO level, which is highly encouraging. This chapter remains
open, and Industry as well as regulators hold out hope that this approach
remains a viable one.


As the air cargo industry continues to evolve, the challenges in securing

this vital element of the global economy will also continue to increase. Up
until the early 1980s the express mode was limited to very small packages
and envelopes, and the vast majority of air cargo was moved in the trad­
itional forwarder/carrier relationship. It was a very paper-intensive process.
But the types of shipper who used this channel were for the most part well
known, established customers.
This has changed dramatically, as the express segment has now grown
in scope and capability, providing rapid, time-definite services throughout

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much of the world. With this, the profile of shippers has changed even
more dramatically. Small businesses and individuals now rely on this mode,
whether directly or through the various postal organizations. An extremely
high volume of the latter now moves via air, and now also includes
numerous larger shipments in addition to small packages. As a result, the
opportunities for bad actors to utilize this channel to perform a terrorist
act have grown exponentially.
The more regulators know about these shippers, and have the ability to
incorporate the most current Intel in the risk analysis process, the better
Industry can focus its attention on eliminating the risk. To help support
this, Industry needs to move more rapidly to an electronic data environ-
ment, to help facilitate the flow of cargo information for both operational
and regulatory use. All of this must be done in parallel with still paying
close attention to the basics of securing the supply chain elsewhere, and
being mindful of ever-changing threats. Looking at the potential cost, some
passenger carriers have begun to opt out of the cargo arena altogether.
Industry can also be encouraged by the opportunities presented by the
development of new, even more powerful X-ray equipment to allow larger
cargo configurations to be screened effectively and efficiently. But the cost
is as yet unknown, and regulators have not yet approved that level, so it
likely will not be in the near future.
Everyone recognizes that there is no solution, regulatory or otherwise,
risk based or prescriptive, that provides security with 100 percent certainty.
Industry must continue a strong collaborative approach with regulators,
and advocate for globally accepted standards and definitions that will
make operations and training more efficient while attaining the security
desired by all. Only this approach will help in finding solutions that keep
the Industry safe, secure and healthy.


1. IATA Cargo Strategy 2015, ‘Economic Outlook and SWOT Analysis’.

2. Ibid.
3. IATA Cargo Strategy (August 2015), About IATA, accessed December 10, 2012 at www.
4. Ibid.

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Policy applications

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7.  Aviation security in the USA
Joseph S. Szyliowicz


Achieving aviation security in the United States is a herculean task given

the nature, scale, and complexity of the system involved. It consists of an
extensive and varied network of airports, aircraft, and a supporting infra-
structure involving a rich variety of complex technologies. Heretofore, pas-
senger aviation has been the prime target as terrorists have tried to smuggle
themselves and/or their explosives through airport checkpoints, though
attacks can and have been launched by insiders or even from outside the
facility. Other sectors, however, also present potentially attractive targets.
Enormous amounts of freight and mail also go by air, some on passenger
flights, but most is carried by dedicated air cargo planes, a mode that poses
its own security challenges. Finally, a significant general aviation sector
with a large number and range of planes and landing strips also requires
attention. Safeguarding the American aviation system requires attention
to each of these elements as well as to the airspace system itself and
the control and command technologies that are utilized by government
agencies and a wide range of private actors. Thus, achieving a high level
of aviation security involves not only ensuring a secure environment for
scheduled passenger flights (the area that traditionally receives the most
attention), but also implementing effective procedures to prevent terrorists
from attacking these other aviation elements, directly or indirectly.
The unique challenges posed by each of these components are greatly
aggravated by their size. Safeguarding passengers, for example, involves
screening the millions of passengers who fly long distances with large
amounts of hand held and checked baggage. In 2015, for example,
almost 700 million people traveled domestically, another 200 million
internationally for a total of almost a billion miles.1 Although only 10 US
airlines account for much of this travel (over 670 million people), there
are almost 100 airlines that fly in American skies. The airport situation
is similar. Though a few major airports account for most of the activity,
scheduled flights utilize about 500 airports. The general aviation system,


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106 Air transport security

which includes all kinds of planes ranging from helicopters to piston

driven planes to large jets, is also extensive. Almost 200,000 utilize nearly
20,000 airports, over 14,000 of which are for private use only.2 The amount
of freight that travels by air is also immense. Over 13 million tons of
cargo and mail was shipped domestically in 2015, another 35.5 million
internationally.3 The top five airports accounted for almost 13 million tons
in 2014.4 Passenger planes also carry a considerable amount of freight
and mail, around a third of the total, a number that is likely to increase as
bigger passenger jets with larger cargo space continue to come to market.5
Besides its scope and volume, other factors complicate the achievement
of a high level of aviation security in the US. Aviation is obviously a
major economic sector whose functioning impacts the entire economy,
thus secur­ity measures must be sensitive to the economic implications.
It is already a global system with telecommunication and other linkages
that are becoming ever more integrated. Thus, aviation security in the US,
involves not only safeguarding its own aviation facilities but ensuring that
foreign airlines cannot become attack vehicles. It is instructive that the
bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103 in 1988 was loaded in Frankfurt through
an intra-modal movement from a foreign airline originating in still another
country and that the tragedy itself occurred in the skies of another country.


Although the first attack took place in 1933, that event was regarded as
an isolated incident. Not until 1955 was another American plane attacked.
Seeking to collect his mother’s life insurance a man placed a bomb on a
plane, killing 44 persons. Five years later the first suicide bomber blew up
a plane, again motivated by life insurance considerations. During these
years, airline security did not receive much attention in the US since there
were few incidents and most of them involved criminal acts. And little
changed, though hijackings increased markedly during the 1967–1976
period when people sought to flee from Castro’s regime in Cuba. Only
when the first politically motivated attack took place overseas in 1968,
when three Palestinians hijacked an El Al flight in 1968 to free Palestinian
prisoners, did heightened concerns about aviation security emerge. The
issue assumed much greater importance when Pan Am 103 exploded over
Lockerbie Scotland, in 1988, the worst security disaster in the history of
US civil aviation.6
A Presidential Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism was
established the following year and the Aviation Security Improvement Act
was enacted in 1990. Although this legislation mandated various reforms,

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especially within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US

agency responsible for security, these were never implemented adequately.
The agency suffered from administrative mismanagement, a lack of proac-
tive planning, and a fundamental conflict of interest stemming from its
two basic responsibilities – promoting aviation and overseeing its safety
and security.
The crash of TWA 800 in 1996, which killed 230 passengers, was another
turning point that led to President Clinton’s creation of the White House
(Gore) Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. The Commission, in
its far-seeing report, noted that aviation security was a national security
issue and called for the allocation of additional funding, for the develop-
ment and deployment of detection systems, federal standards for the
workforce and screeners, ensuring secure access, profiling programs and
the use of canine teams.7 These wise recommendations were, regrettably,
never implemented effectively for several reasons. Airlines and airports
displayed very limited concern for the security implications as they
mounted a vigorous and effective campaign to preserve the status quo as
much as possible because of the costs involved. Their efforts to implement
regulations as cheaply as possible were facilitated by the many weaknesses
that the FAA possessed. It remained an ineffective and reactive agency,
which acted sporadically in discharging conflicting responsibilities and
goals. Mary Schiavo, the former Inspector General of the US Department
of Transportation (USDOT) described the situation as follows: ‘frankly,
they don’t act until people are dead. They don’t even begin to address the
problem until we’re dealing with a body count . . . They are dysfunctional.
They cannot deliver the security. They had more public relations persons
than security personnel.’8 Thus, though various steps were taken during
these years, including new legislation containing harsh penalties for air
piracy and the development and deployment of screening devices at major
airports, the inadequacy of these measures was tragically demonstrated by
the cataclysmic 9/11 attacks.
The 9/11 attack, of course, transformed the security issue. Dramatic and
rigorous measures were quickly adopted. These included the creation of
large new organizations – the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – and the replace-
ment of the private poorly trained and paid screeners with a force of over
45,000 agents. Other measures included the installation of new machines
to check all baggage for explosives (an expensive and controversial policy
given the level of technological development), random baggage searches,
reinforcing cockpit doors, placing air marshals on many flights, check-
ing the background of airport employees, and naming Federal Security
Directors at 440 major airports. The costs climbed quickly – passenger

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screening, for example, rose from $600 million in 2001 to $3,300 million in
2003; baggage inspections climbed from zero to $800 million.
Implementing such dramatic changes would obviously not be an easy
matter even with the most careful planning and numerous weaknesses
continued to characterize aviation security, weaknesses that were caused, to
a significant degree, by the absence of an integrated, coherent strategy. As
a result, the new measures were neither systematic nor comprehensive, even
though billions of dollars were spent and the system was marked by various
weaknesses. As late as 2007 these included inadequate intelligence gather-
ing, analysis and distribution, divided and vague responsibilities, ineffective
passenger and baggage screening, inadequately trained flight crews and air
marshals, and inadequate security personnel training standards.9
The system that was put in place suffered from another deficiency – no
thought was given to the possibility that terrorists might innovate. Thus,
the emphasis remained on preventing passengers from carrying weapons of
any sort including scissors or knives or box cutters on board and, though
thousands were seized, subsequent attackers used different tactics which
led to an expansion of what should be checked. The capture of Harry Reid
the ‘shoe bomber’, for example, resulted in a new policy – all passengers
now had to remove their shoes for inspection. And, when terrorists devised
a new method of attack – liquid explosives – another requirement was
added: passengers were forbidden to bring liquids and gels on board.


The most dramatic changes have involved passenger and baggage screen-
ing for, since 2011, every passenger is no longer viewed as an equally
dangerous threat. The new Risk Based Security (RBS) approach attempts
to identify the hazardous passengers. Thus the ‘PreCheck’ program, which
was implemented partly to minimize delays and frustrations, permits pas-
sengers, for a fee, to undergo a background check that entitles those who
are approved to a faster security process. Though helpful, this program
still could not accommodate ever growing numbers of passengers so the
TSA initiated the ‘Managed Inclusion’ Program, which permits randomly
selected passengers who are considered low risk by Screening of Passengers
by Observation Techniques (SPOT) officers and canine teams (PSCs), and
who do not trigger explosive residue detection equipment, to participate
in the PreCheck process. This program was soon abandoned, however, as
evidence mounted that the focus was on speed and not security.10
RBS relies on a multi-layered approach consisting of many separate and
complementary programs that are structured so that if a potential threat

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evades one layer, it will be captured by another.11 Its key element, the
passenger and baggage screening process, relies heavily on technology such
as X-ray machines to check the luggage and X-ray scanners and advanced
imaging technology (AIT) to detect concealed items that have eluded the
X-ray machines. These technologies are supplemented by two programs,
mentioned above, teams of dogs trained to detect explosives (PSCs) and
the SPOT.
Using these programs, officers screened, in 2015, almost 2 million pas-
sengers per day with 1.6 billion carry-on bags and 432 million checked
bags, discovering 2,653 firearms at 236 airports.12 These figures, which
indicate the scale of the problem, do not, however, capture the security
reality, for covert tests have exposed the fallibility of the screening process
on many occasions. In 2007, for example, Government Accountability
Office (GAO) personnel carried explosive components on their persons
and in their carry-ons through the screening process.13 Since then, as noted
above, various changes have been implemented but these have not solved
the problem, for, in early 2015, undercover agents carried weapons and
explosives past the screeners at various major airports, 67 times out of 70
attempts.14 This outcome did not surprise the Inspector General of the
DHS, for previous covert tests had yielded similar results – one in 2011
on the AIT machines of the time, a second in 2012 on access controls and
a third in 2014 on checked baggage, which revealed that more than half a
billion dollar investment designed to remedy failures detected in 2009 had
yielded no improvement.15
Several factors contribute to this state of affairs, the most obvious being
the failure to adequately assess programs before they are introduced.
The SPOT program, which cost about $900 million by 2015, is a notable
example. The first validation study was carried out in 2011, four years after
its initiation. And, a subsequent meta-analysis revealed that that study
had been seriously flawed and that there was no evidence that the SPOT
program enhanced airport security. Similarly, no effort was made to deter-
mine the effectiveness of the canine teams or in what areas they could be
most effective when they were deployed in 2011. Two years later, the GAO
noted that the TSA would ‘have benefitted from completing operational
assessments of PSCs before deploying them on a nation-wide basis to
determine whether they are an effective method of screening passengers
. . .’.16 The Managed Inclusion Program, which had been widely criticized
for its reliance on the questionable SPOT and canine teams programs,
and which also underwent no assessment of its effectiveness as an overall
system before its inception in 2013, was terminated in 2015.
Such shortcomings are also evident in one of the major policy i­ nnovations
adopted after 9/11 to enhance the screening process – the replacement of

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private, poorly trained personnel with well-trained federal agents. They

are supposed to receive 40 hours of classroom instruction, 60 hours of
on-the-job training and pass various tests, but only in 2013 did the TSA
evaluate the efficacy of this program. The title of a recent GAO report
summarizes the problem succinctly: ‘TSA Should Ensure Testing Data Are
Complete and Fully Used to Improve Screener Training and Operations’.17
Furthermore, not all screeners complete the two hours of required weekly
radiation safety training through the TSA’s Online Learning Center (OLC)
due to time constraints. And, despite the existence of standards, training
procedures and screening methods can vary among airports. This lack of
consistency also extends to the calibration of the AIT units which use vari-
ous frequencies and recording methods. Hence the machine may not work
as intended and weaknesses are more difficult to spot.
Nor do all screeners carry out their functions in an impartial manner.
Many cases of racial and religious profiling have been publicized – at one
airport, for example, TSA officers accused some colleagues of selecting
African-Americans, Brazilians and Mexicans for increased scrutiny.18 In
recent years, persons identified as Muslims, either by name or clothing,
have increasingly been singled out for special screening. Although such
profiling violates ethical and legal norms and leads to public disillusion-
ment with the screening process specifically and the TSA generally, with
obvious security implications, several factors tend to support its existence.
First, despite the existence of standard operating procedures which are
designed to prevent abuses, only minimal punishment is often meted out
to officers who violate screening procedures as well as to those who engage
in other forbidden activities such as sleeping on the job. Second, officers
feel pressured to meet the referral standards desired by their managers
so as to demonstrate the efficacy of the program.19 Third, the SPOT and
related programs, because of their weaknesses discussed above, aggravate
this situation because they promote racial profiling, a view supported by
passengers and screeners.20
Another major weakness is the TSA’s frequent failure to specify perform­
ance measures, thus creating obvious difficulties in any attempt to assess
a program’s effectiveness and its cost/benefit ratio by the administration
or Congress, which oversees these programs. The GAO recently identified
the problem in terms of the SPOT program as follows: ‘[O]utput-based
measures that the TSA has established (e.g. the number of SPOT referrals
to law enforcement) do not allow it to ascertain whether this $900 million
program has prevented any genuine threat.’21 The PreCheck program
is similarly flawed – the ‘TSA’s data is limited to the number of people
involved and the degree to which its goals are being met for it has never
assessed the impact on wait times, screening times, let alone security’.22

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The TSA’s efforts to develop and deploy technological solutions, a

favored area, suffer from similar deficiencies even though both the DHS
and the TSA are committed to operational testing. One of its major
programs, for example, involved the replacement of metal detectors with
whole body imaging machines (Rapiscan Secure 1000) in 2008, a decision
that was made even though the ‘TSA has not yet conducted an assessment
of the technology’s vulnerabilities’.23 Their deployment promptly provoked
a widespread debate over privacy issues and when the manufacturer was
unable to develop software that preserved individual privacy, another deci-
sion was made – to remove them by June 2013. Moreover, these machines
also raised health concerns but these were ignored – only after they had
been taken out of service were tests carried out.24 The TSA’s structure
and culture clearly do not facilitate its efforts to develop and harness
technology but its problems are enhanced by the functioning of the larger
organization of which it is a part, the DHS, which also does not operate
effectively in this area. As the GAO noted: ‘It lacks any policy regarding
R and D that could help prevent overlap, fragmentation, or unnecessary


The RBS layers extend to the plane itself and include the hardened
cockpit doors, probably the most effective reform introduced after 9/11,
allowing trained pilots to carry a gun, and the Federal Air Marshall
Service (FAMS), whereby thousands of officers in plain clothes travel
millions of miles as passengers on various domestic and international
flights considered high risk. The effectiveness of this program, which
dates back to the 1970s, depends upon two factors: an appropriate risk
assessment program that assigns them to actual high risk flights and the
quality of the training and morale of the officers involved. But these
have not been the guiding principles that have been applied. Rather, the
program has focused on coverage, on placing air marshals on as many
flights as possible and on professional judgments rather than a rigorous
risk based approach.26 Furthermore, serious questions have been raised
about the administration of the program regarding such personnel issues
as the training officers receive, difficult working conditions, the extent
of misconduct, including sexual scandals and the high resignation rate.27
Even if the agency were to undergo the necessary changes and resolve
such issues, however, a fundamental question still deserves careful
consideration – how much added protection does this program actually

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Securing airports and planes involves more than all the measures dis-
cussed above, for millions of vendors, contractors, airport, airline and
federal employees, have access to secured areas. Though various security
procedures have been implemented – in 2014 over 13 million employees
were screened28 – experts agree that the insider threat is a very serious
one that has not received the attention it requires. The International Air
Transport Association, for example, began its position paper in 2015 as
follows: ‘There is growing concern . . .’ and noted the wide range of threats
that insiders posed including obtaining classified information, launching
cyber-attacks, and smuggling weapons and people.29 Developing measures
to deal with this threat is complicated by such factors as the costs and
difficulties involved in screening all insiders, and the uniqueness of each
airport and the policies it follows.
The difficulties involved are evident given the inability of the TSA to
screen even a small subset of insiders, its own employees. The TSA’s efforts
to do so have long been criticized and changes have been implemented over
time, but its screening process still contains numerous weaknesses. A recent
investigation, for example, found thousands of incomplete records includ-
ing immigrants without passport numbers. Its efforts to screen the wider
population are also ineffectual. In 2016, the JFK police union criticized the
TSA for ‘a lack of attention to screening of all airport workers’. Despite
its acknowledged dangers, the insider threat remains a serious national
problem for not only are the screening processes of limited effectiveness
but just three out of the 457 airports screen all their employees and bags.30
It should be noted, however, that the TSA’s Aviation Security Advisory
Committee, recognizing the seriousness of this threat, has recently issued
a number of recommendations designed to minimize this vulnerability
though their effectiveness obviously remains to be seen.

Perimeter Issues

Even if such measures minimize the insider threat, one cannot ignore the
‘outsider threat’, for it is not particularly difficult to enter even a major
passenger airport illegally. Over 200 people succeeded in doing so between
2004 and 2015, more than a quarter reached the parking areas, and five
even managed to climb onto a plane.31
Nor should one overlook the danger posed by unchecked vehicles that
can be driven up to an airport. The freedom to do so raises the devastating
possibility that one or more explosive packed vehicles could crash into a
crowded terminal, as happened in Glasgow in 2007. The TSA has issued

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(and revised) guidelines dealing with airport design and construction in

order to minimize the threat posed by vehicle borne improvised explosive
devices (VBIED) but these are voluntary and this mode of attack contin-
ues to represent what one expert has called ‘a pressing threat’.32
Attacks can also be launched against planes leaving and departing an
airport from outside its boundaries, given the existence of man-portable
air defense systems (MANPADS). These weapons are essentially light-
weight heat-seeking missiles that number in the millions and have been
obtained by numerous terrorist groups, who have used them against civil-
ian and military planes up to a range of 18,000 feet. How serious a danger
they pose to aviation, however, remains a topic of debate, though most
observers believe that a nuanced response is required, including efforts led,
since 2007, by the MANPADS task force to prevent their proliferation and
dissemination across the globe.33
Essentially, three defensive approaches are available. Many have advo-
cated the installation of aircraft based technologies, as Israel has done,
though it is important to note that like any other technology MANPADS
continue to evolve. However, the airlines have led a spirited oppos­
ition because of the astronomical costs, which include maintenance and
increased fuel consumption. A second possibility is a ground-based
defensive system to protect airports. Such an approach may require further
technological development but has many advantages. The third and most
promising possibility is the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that
can detect and destroy a missile.34 Though DHS is funding technological
research involving UAVs, the US has not yet developed any effective solu-
tions to dealing with the MANPAD threat even though most experts agree
that it needs attention. It must also be noted that while UAVs can be used
as a defensive measure, they also present a powerful new terrorist threat
that also requires more attention than it has received heretofore.


In today’s world, a terrorist can be much further from an airport and still
stage an effective strike. Cyber-attacks against aviation infrastructure have
been taking place for years and are difficult to prevent for many reasons,
including the key role played by the private sector and the numerous obs­
tacles that efforts to create effective public private partnerships in the security
area inevitably encounter. Yet such efforts remain essential given the vulner-
ability of aircraft systems and airports. At the beginning of this decade,
for example, 2.9 million attacks were blocked in one year at Los Angeles’
three commercial airports.35 The implications for security are obvious since

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critical screening technologies, including carry-on baggage scanners and

explosive residue detectors, contain ‘backdoors’ that enable anyone with a
password and username to gain access. Such technologies are obviously very
vulnerable to hacking, thus creating an obvious – and dangerous – security
gap. Furthermore, the Threat Image Projection feature of the baggage X-ray
scanner can be manipulated, thus preventing the screener from viewing
hidden weapons. And, since the explosive residue detector and the access
system for employees are connected to the internet, hackers could disable the
technology and obtain personnel data as well as other sensitive information.36
Nor is it necessary to use technology to gain such information or to
disable airport security technologies, for the IT infrastructure may well
be physically vulnerable. A recent audit of the Dallas/Fort Worth airport
revealed significant security gaps for rooms that contain IT, servers, CCTV
operations, explosive detection systems, and communication equipment
closets. Indeed anyone, including unauthorized personnel, could easily
gain access since they ‘were often unlocked or did not even have locks’.
Nor did they have any way of recording who entered and exited the
rooms.37 Such gaps were not limited to one airport. At JFK airport in New
York City, IT hardware was often stored in unlocked closets alongside
cleaning supplies. In this case, the risk was not only a security attack but
the risk of damage from the cleaning supplies, a risk that was recognized
in DHS Sensitive Systems Directives.38
The national airspace system itself, which is administered by the FAA, is
also vulnerable. It consists of many interconnected radar-based air traffic
control systems that share a variety of information ranging from aircraft
types to the navigation of specific planes. Though officially defined as
critical transportation infrastructure, they remain extremely vulnerable to
external and internal interference. If a hacker gained control, for example,
the plane could become a missile, as occurred on 9/11. Yet, despite increas-
ing evidence of the cybersecurity threat, it is widely acknowledged that
the FAA has failed to establish adequate security controls – according to
a recent GAO study ‘significant security-control weaknesses remain that
threaten the agency’s ability to ensure the safe and uninterrupted operation
of the national airspace system’.39
Eliminating existing weaknesses, however, will not suffice, for a new
system, NextGen, is being implemented. NextGen, a much needed digital
upgrading of the present system, will enhance existing technologies and
integrate new ones. Doing so, however, will inevitably create new vulner-
abilities. It will be easier, for example, to gain control of an aircraft if
one gains entry into the system. Thus, dealing with previously identified
existing weaknesses will not suffice; it is essential to consider the new
challenges that NextGen creates and to develop appropriate policies. These

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include, as the GAO recently noted: (1) protecting air traffic control (ATC)
information systems; (2) protecting aircraft avionics used to operate and
guide aircraft; and (3) clarifying cybersecurity roles and responsibilities
among multiple FAA offices.40
The growing concern with airspace security has finally led the FAA to
take some important steps to meet existing and potential threats to the
system. These include a five-year study to identify and remedy weaknesses
in aircraft systems and the establishment of a joint government-industry
committee to recommend new cybersecurity safeguards. Furthermore, the
2016 FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act requires the FAA to develop
a ‘framework of principles and policies to reduce cybersecurity risks to the
national airspace system, civil aviation and agency information systems
using a total systems approach that takes into consideration the interactions
and interdependence of different components of aircraft systems and the
national airspace system’.41 The success of these efforts remains to be seen,
but, hopefully, this legislation will lead to the emergence of new policies
that will secure the NextGen system from insider as well as external threats.


Cyber-attacks can also be launched against cargo carriers. Securing air

cargo which utilizes both passenger planes and all cargo planes presents
an even more difficult challenge than passengers and their luggage, for it
involves dealing with a complex, large, evolving high speed international
network. This system is exposed not only to an airport’s vulnerabilities dis-
cussed above but additional ones as well because of the possibly dangerous
nature of some cargo. Hazardous materials clearly pose a special danger to
passengers, but even on an all-cargo plane can cause significant damage to
critical infrastructure. Furthermore, the many actors and stages involved
in producing, moving, and delivering cargo swiftly and efficiently along
national and international supply chains pose additional obvious security
Numerous measures have been implemented in an attempt to minimize
these risks, including a congressional decree dating back to 2007 and made
mandatory in 2010, which requires that all cargo transported in the holds
of passenger airplanes originating in the US must undergo the same level
of screening as personal baggage. To minimize the problems involved in
screening the huge and diverse amounts of domestic cargo, the TSA estab-
lished the voluntary Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP) whereby
screening takes place before the cargo reaches the airport so that it can be
loaded directly onto the plane. The TSA assesses and audits the security

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arrangements at the screening site and along the supply chain. The cargo
which arrives at the airport from non-CCSP organizations is screened
there. For inbound cargo, the TSA seeks to ensure that the foreign security
measures meet US standards.42
These measures are not foolproof. Most obviously, the baggage screening
that takes place at the airport is prone to all the issues discussed earlier. And
the CCSP program is also subject to many of the same problems ranging from
the security of the facility to the insider threat. Inbound cargo poses many
additional issues. Screening cargo requires appropriate technology but this
is an area of concern. The TSA provides an Air Cargo Security Technology
List (ACSTL) containing 16 manufacturers and over 100 items divided
into three sections, ‘qualified, ‘approved’ and ‘grandfathered’. However, the
Security Manufacturers Coalition has noted that ‘many of the screening
technologies listed were not specifically designed for the many complex con-
figurations of air cargo, including commodity type and density levels’.43 The
Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG) recognizes this and other shortcom-
ings in air cargo security but correctly places it within a global context, urging
the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop global
standards not only for new technologies but for existing screening practices
and requirements as well.44 Dealing with all the problems posed by air cargo
requires effective administration but the existing organiza­tional structure, as
noted above, is characterized by various shortcomings that complicate efforts
to achieve a high level of cargo security. In 2007, for example, the GAO
recommended that the TSA and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) define
their specific roles, but by 2012 little had changed.45


Finally, it is important to consider the security issues posed by general

aviation (GA), which, as noted earlier, represents an enormous and varied
enterprise involving hundreds of thousands of pilots and planes and thou-
sands of airports. Thus, it shares the same areas of concern as commercial
aviation – airports and their employees, passengers and planes and pilots,
each of which is subject to the threats discussed above. GA, however, pos-
sesses an additional vulnerability – students attending flight schools, many
of whom are from overseas.
Recognizing the importance of this sector, the TSA, as early as May
2004, published, the ‘Airport Characteristics Measurement Tool’ (ACMT),
a set of guidelines designed to help ensure that GA airports develop
security measures that are relevant to their particular needs and resources.
Recognizing the sector’s enormous diversity, the ACMT, does not impose

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specific obligations and does not hold GA facilities to the same standards
as regular airports. It does not even establish standards for obtaining fed-
eral financing. Only those that are within the closed District of Columbia
area are required to meet various security standards.46
Though this system has aroused considerable criticism, it has been vig-
orously defended by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA),
which argues that ‘[t]he aircraft and pilots of America’s general aviation
(GA) community do not pose a significant terrorist threat to the United
States . . . (because) [a] comprehensive range of proven measures are in
place. . .’.47 This optimistic perspective, however, makes two assumptions,
each of which has been questioned. The first is that the risk level is low; the
second, that the existing security is adequate
Given the character and diversity of the GA system, the degree of
voluntary compliance, the number of municipal, state, and federal agen-
cies involved, and the problems in securing commercial airports, it is to
be expected that weaknesses in the existing security arrangements have
been identified. A recent TSA report that assessed the degree to which
the various GA elements were implementing security measures found that
these varied considerably. While 9 percent of the larger airports possessed
an emergency contact list, only 19 percent had an identification system for
passengers, cargo and baggage, and only 44 percent of airports possessed
a security training program. The biggest problem, however, involved threat
assessments and immigration violations where numerous ‘weaknesses’
were identified.48 A related study also found problems in the screening
process for foreign students enrolling in flight schools.49
The TSA, often with the support of AOPA, has taken various measures
to strengthen GA security by enhancing cooperative efforts, expanding
the profiling program, and ruling that passengers on planes over 12,500
lbs be subject to the Secure Flight program watch list. How effectively
this measure will be implemented has been questioned, however, given the
small amount of money that has been requested for this program.50 This
rule reflects the TSA’s focus on the larger aircraft but small ones also pose
a potential threat for they may serve as a missile (as occurred in 2002), an
effective smuggling tool or a delivery system for deadly agents.51 Thus,
GA’s vulnerabilities are likely to continue to exist and the issue of how best
to deal with them remains to be resolved.


Underlying all the problems discussed above is the nature and functioning
of the organization that is responsible for developing, implementing and

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administering policies to safeguard aviation. This is a major shortcoming,

for the TSA continues to be criticized for its organizational weaknesses,
including a fundamental one that has received public attention recently,
namely the quality of its leadership. The present director, for example,
has been accused of providing ‘a hodgepodge of deflections and excuses
designed to protect the agency and obscure leadership shortcomings’.52
The linkage between leadership and a positive culture is obvious so that
it is not surprising that employee morale is low and that the TSA is losing
employees faster than they can be replaced. Its workforce today is 6,000
persons lower than it was in 2011 even though the number of flights and
passengers has continued to climb.53 All these shortcomings are widely
recognized within the agency itself. As one of its security directors has
recently noted: ‘While the new administrator of TSA has made security a
much needed priority once again, make no mistake about it: We remain an
agency in crisis.’54


Clearly, despite all the policies that have been adopted and the billions that
have been invested, much remains to be done to safeguard the aviation
system from terrorist attacks. Though the TSA has implemented many
new programs, primarily to enhance passenger security, including the
deployment of new screening technologies and a risk based approach
designed to identify threats without unduly burdening the great majority
who pose no threat, serious gaps remain. There is no shortage of specific
suggestions on how to improve the situation. These include, in regards to
the insider terrorist threat, for example, enhanced intelligence cooperation
and pre-employment clearances, limiting access only to assigned work
places, enhanced education and training for internal security officers,
including how to react to a terrorist incident, and improved employee
accountability and dispute adjudication.
Though such measures may well represent useful changes, achieving
a higher level of aviation security requires a new approach to planning,
operations, and enforcement. Until now the primary focus has been on
safeguarding airplanes and airports, but given the range of assets that
are vulnerable and the many new potential threats ranging from cyber to
physical to biological, chemical, and nuclear to drones, a new approach is
desirable. Furthermore, the costs of a successful attack will vary greatly
depending on the event. The loss of an airplane is tragic; the disruption
of the US economy as a result of a successful attack on air cargo could be

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A key weakness is TSA’s tendency to be reactive rather than proactive.

This failure has been vividly highlighted by several incidents. About three
months after 9/11, Richard Reid tried, unsuccessfully, to blow up AA flight
63 en route from Paris to Miami with an explosive compound hidden in
his shoes. The TSA promptly mandated that shoes be screened. In 2006
a plot to use liquid explosives for planes flying from London to North
America was detected and the TSA decreed that no liquids or gels could be
carried on board a plane. Subsequently, after considerable public outcry,
the ban was eased; and the 3-1-1 rule was adopted – three one-ounce
bottles in one plastic bag per passenger. However, there is evidence that
the need for preventive measures before an attack is increasingly accepted,
for electronic devices larger than a cell phone are no longer permitted on
board an aircraft flying to the US from ten Middle Eastern and North
African airports.55
A strategic framework containing short and long term goals with
deadlines and performance targets is clearly required. Even if such a plan
is developed, however, its effective implementation requires the creation of
an effective, well-managed organization with a positive administrative cul-
ture. Thus, it is necessary to promote organizational and cultural change
that will enable the TSA to function effectively.
Intelligence clearly has a vital role to play in this regard. The existing
structures and processes by which intelligence is analyzed and integrated
by the various agencies require constant attention to ensure that the TSA
receives information that can be effectively utilized to enhance aviation
Science and technology will inevitably continue to comprise an impor-
tant tool. There is no doubt that technology can reduce the system’s
vulnerability in many important ways and, indeed, great hopes are being
placed on research and development to identify new methods of safe-
guarding telecommunications systems, of detecting biological, chemical,
and nuclear agents, of checking baggage for explosives, and of tracking
and protecting containers. Ideally, the new technologies will increase
efficiency at the same time that they enhance security. However, besides the
importance of ensuring that the technology will effectively perform a task
before it is deployed, the human factor must constantly be kept in mind.
Even if an appropriate technology is developed, it is only a tool; it will, at
best, diminish a specific threat but human beings will always be involved
and every step should be taken to ensure the quality and proficiency of the
workforce so as to minimize mistakes and mishaps.
Before investing in any security measure, whether technological or not,
it is essential to consider an important element that seems to have received
far too little attention by the TSA, the costs and benefits of the innovation.

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Billions have been spent but these huge expenditures have not resulted in
the creation of a secure system. Indeed, some security measures, especially
those with dubious efficacy should be eliminated or at least greatly reduced.
In any case, when considering future innovations, care should be taken to
assess not only their potential efficacy but their costs and benefits as well.
Such assessments should not be limited to specific aviation security pro-
jects, for these are part of a larger issue, how to protect the country’s criti-
cal infrastructure, including transportation. Thus, difficult questions need
to be asked and resolved including: How big should the security budget
be? What amount should be allocated to aviation security as compared to
other transportation modes? What trade-off is acceptable between security
and other societal requirements such as civil liberties and the flow of trade?
Unless such questions receive the attention they deserve, no appropriate
strategic plan for aviation security can be implemented.
Achieving aviation security, however, requires more than a sound and
effective national program; an international perspective is essential for threats
to passengers and air cargo can originate, as various tragic incidents have
shown, outside the US. Indeed, the DHS recently imposed new security
requirements for all foreign commercial flights. One hundred and eighty
airlines from approximately 280 airports in 105 countries are affected.56
Successful implementation of these new regulations will enhance global avi­
ation security but international cooperation is obviously required. Achieving
such cooperation is seldom easy, given the character of the international
system and the widespread hypocrisy and application of double standards
that often characterizes state behavior. Still, a wise diplomatic policy can help
to overcome such obstacles and thus contribute greatly to the achievement of
aviation security not only in the US but throughout the globe.


  2. These figures are drawn from official US statistics: see
 6. Judy Rumerman, ‘Aviation Security’, U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission
(Washington, DC, 2003),​
  7. Gore Commission, Final Report, February 12, 1997.
  8. Mary Schiavo, ‘September 11 Was Failure of Government’,​
  9. R. Johnstone, ‘Not Safe Enough: Fixing Transportation Security’, Issues in Science and
Technology, Winter 2007, Vol. 23(2), pp. 51–60.

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10. Jennifer Grover, ‘Aviation Security: TSA’s Managed Inclusion Process Expands
Passenger Expedited Screening but TSA Has Not Tested its Security Effectiveness’,
GAO Report, March 2015.
11. ‘Layers of Security’, Transportation Security Administration,
12. ‘TSA 2015 Year in Review’, The TSA blog, January 21, 2016.
13. GAO, ‘Aviation Security: Vulnerabilities Exposed through Covert Testing of TSA’s
Passenger Screening Process’, GAO-08-48T, November 15, 2007.
14. Justin Fishel, Pierre Thomas, Mike Levine, and Jack Date, ‘Undercover DHS Tests Find
Security Failures at US Airports’, ABC News, June 1, 2015,
15. Statement of Peter V. Neffenger, Administrator, TSA, before the United States House
of Representatives, Committee on Homeland Security, July 29, 2015, p. 3.
16. ‘TSA Explosives Detection Canine Program: Actions Needed to Analyze Data and Ensure
Canine Teams are Effectively Utilized’, United States, GAO Report, January 2013.
17. GAO-16-704: September 7, 2016.
18. CNN, ‘TSA to Investigate Racial Profiling Claims’, August 14, 2012, https://www.cnn.
19. Michael S. Schmidt and Eric Lichtblauaug, ‘Racial Profiling Rife at Airport, U.S.
Officers Say’, New York Times, August 11, 2012.
20. ACLU, ‘ACLU Sues TSA for Records on Discredited “Behavior Detection” Program’,
March 19, 2015.
21. GAO, ‘Aviation Security: #Efforts to validate TSA’s Passenger Screening Behavior
Detection Program Underway’, May 2010.
22. GAO, ‘Aviation Security: Rapid Growth in Expedited Passenger Screening Highlights
the Need to Plan Effective Security Assessments.’ GAO Report to Congressional
Requesters, December 2014.
23. ‘TSA is Increasing Procurement and Deployment of Advanced Imaging Technology,
but challenges to its effort and other areas of aviation security remain’. GAO March 17,
2010, pp. 8–9.
24. ‘Airport Passenger Screening Using Backscatter X-Ray Machines: Compliance with
Standards’, The National Academies Press, 2015.
25. GAO, ‘DHS Oversight and Coordination of Research and Development Should be
Strengthened’, September 12, 2012.
26. GAO, ‘Federal Air Marshall Service: Actions Needed to Better Incorporate Risk in
Deployment Strategy’, May 2016, GAO 16-582.
27. Michael Grabell, ‘The TSA Releases Data on Air Marshal Misconduct, 7 Years
After We Asked’, ProPublica February 24, 2016,
28. TSA Blog, 2015,
29. IATA, ‘Insider Threat in Civil Aviation, Position paper for 2015/2016’, https://www.iata.
30. Jeff Peques, CBS News, ‘TSA Blasted for “Insider Threat” Security Gap’, May 15, 2016,
31. Martha Mendoza and Justin Pritchard, ‘AP Investigation Details Perimeter Breaches at US
Airports’, April 9, 2015,­international/
AP-Investigation-Details- Perimeter-Breaches-at-US-Airports--299210461.html.
32. Billie H. Vincent, ‘Aviation’s Continuing Vulnerabilities to Vehicle Borne Improvised
Explosive Devices, Individual Suicide Bombers, Suitcase Explosive Devices Attacks at
Airports’, May 2009.
33. Matt Schroeder, ‘Countering the MANPADS Threat: Strategies for Success’, Arms
Control Today, September 2007.
34. Hillel Avihai, ‘MANPADS, Countermeasure: Sky Security vs. Ground Security’, ICT

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122 Air transport security

35. John McCarthy and William Mahoney, ‘SCADA Threats in the Modern Airport’,
University of Nebraska at Omaha, 2012, pp. 142–5.
36. Kim Zelter, ‘Hacked X-Rays Could Slip Guns Past Airport Security’, WIRED,
February 11, 2014.
37. DHS, Office of Inspector General, ‘Audit of Security Controls for DHS Information
Technology Systems at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport’, September 2014.
38. DHS, Office of Inspector General, ‘Audit of Security Controls for DHS Information
Technology Systems at John F. Kennedy International Airport’, January 2015.
39. GAO, ‘Information Security: FAA Needs to Address Weaknesses in Air Traffic Control
Systems’, GAO-15-221, January 29, 2015, p. 1.
40. GAO, ‘Air Traffic Control: FAA Needs a More Comprehensive Approach to Address
Cybersecurity as Agency Transitions to NextGen’, April 2015, p. 1.
41. Vesna Brajkovic, ‘Breakdown: FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016’,
AviationPros, July 19, 2016,
42. Bart Elias, ‘Screening and Securing Air Cargo: Background and Issues for Congress’,
Congressional Research Service, December 2, 2010.
43. ‘In the Eyes of the Security Manufacturers Coalition, Aviation Security’, Aviation Security
44. Handy Shipping Guide, ‘Air Cargo Screening and Security Technology Needs
Beefing Up Say Freight Forwarders and Shippers’, 12 December, 2013, http://www.­
45. GAO, ‘Aviation Security: Actions Needed to Address Challenges and Potential
Vulnerabilities Related to Securing Inbound Air Cargo’, May 2012, p. 13.
46. DHS, Office of Inspector General, ‘TSA’s Role in General Aviation Security’ OIG-09-69
May 2009.
47. AOPA, ‘AOPA’s Airport Watch Security’,
48. GAO, ‘General Aviation Security, Weaknesses Exist in TSA’s Process for Ensuring
Foreign Flight Students Do Not Pose a Security Threat’, July 18, 2012, GAO-12-875.
49. Ibid.
50. National Security Law Brief, ‘Insecurity in General Aviation’, October 12, 2015, p. 1.
51. ‘TSA Employees Tell House Panel: Poor Leadership, Retaliation Undermining
Security’, Washington Times,
employees-tell-house-panel-poor-leadership-ret/, p. 2.
52. ‘Why So Many TSA Workers are Leaving and How to Stop It’,
53. Bradford Blevins, ‘Guest Column: How TSA Leaders Can Put the Organization Back on
the Right Track’, Government Security News,​
54. ‘“We remain an agency in crisis”, TSA Kansas Security Director Jay Brainard said
when testifying for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on
Wednesday, according to The Washington Post’: ‘“Biggest bullies in government”: TSA
admits they’re an “agency in crisis”’, Anthony Hennen,, May 2,

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8.  Aviation security policy in Canada
Kamaal Zaidi


Aviation security is the foundation of secure air and ground travel in any
country. Without safety and security in the transportation sector, there
is no stability and progress. As the second largest nation in the world in
area, Canada has introduced many layers of security in its 31 airports.
But two major events have shaped Canada’s approach to aviation security:
(1) the bombing of Air India Flight 182 in 1985, and (2) terrorist attacks
on September 11, 2001 in the United States. Canada’s aviation security
consists of a security matrix consisting of federal agencies, police, airlines,
intelligence services, airport authorities and security companies. Indeed,
aviation security is a team effort – it requires strong communication,
exchange of information and coordination between these entities to deliver
safe and secure travel and commerce.
Since the 9-11 attacks, Canada has responded with its own approaches to
aviation security. As you will see in the subsequent paragraphs, numerous
laws and policies have shaped Canada’s aviation security. These changes over
the years are designed to streamline tourism and commerce, but also to avoid
compromising the security of airports and border crossings. The challenge is
clear – millions of passengers enter airports and board planes with various
items, while airport personnel enter into restricted areas. As such, it is under-
stood that the aviation security framework must have proper resources and
measures in place to safeguard everyone and avoid disruption in air travel.
The first section of this chapter describes the definition and guiding
principles of aviation security in Canada. The second section outlines the
multilayered security matrix maintained by federal agencies and others in
helping provide aviation security. The third section describes some of the
technological layers of security. The fourth section discusses the various
programs and measures of aviation security in Canada. The fifth section
explains the policies and laws that directly impact the Canadian aviation
sector. Finally, the current trends and issues in Canadian aviation security
are highlighted.


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Aviation security is defined as those preventive measures used for ground

and air sources to prevent criminal activities or interference from causing
harm to civil aviation, with the overall aim to safeguard and streamline
travel and commerce for persons and cargo. The nature of aviation security
in Canada is holistic in that several groups are involved to create multiple
layers of security at airports – this is the multilayered security matrix.
There are two types of aviation security: (1) ground security (baggage
screening, airport perimeter screening, and passenger identification), and
(2) air security (reinforced flight deck, armed pilots, air marshals).
Who has power to regulate aviation security? In Canada, the federal
government has exclusive jurisdiction over aviation under the Constitution
Act (1867). This means that federal agencies have rulemaking powers to
craft policy, adopt regulations, request funding, and issue decisions for
aviation security. The federal agencies influence all modes of transporta-
tion in Canada, including aviation. Political will has grown to support
aviation security measures since the 9-11 attacks, and the Government
of Canada has provided over $4.4 billion to aviation security since 2001.
Funding has been earmarked towards specific aviation security programs
and measures, which have evolved into an elaborate framework of policies,
laws and regulations. But it is the guiding principles found in the multilay-
ered security matrix that serve as the foundation of aviation security. Such
principles are found as a network of laws, regulations, policies, measures,
programs and technology that are highly coordinated between the players
in the aviation sector.



Aviation security in Canada is not delivered through one entity, but

through several entities. It is a multilayered system of federal agen-
cies, police, airlines, intelligence services, airport authorities and security
companies. The purpose of the matrix is that if one layer of security is
breached, the other layers would serve as preventive barriers to avoid
criminal attacks or interference of civil aviation. It also serves to gather
and coordinate information to monitor the movement of passengers,
non-passengers (airport employees), baggage and cargo. The multilayered
security matrix presently found in Canada is largely a result of a December
2001 document published by the Standing Committee on Transport

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and Government Operations entitled Building a Transportation Security

Culture: Aviation as the Starting Point. This report recommended an
overarching federal agency be responsible for aviation security in Canada.
In supporting this agency would be other entities within government and
in the private sector. Together, these groups provide the layers of security
to safeguard against criminal activities that disrupt civil aviation.
The following entities are involved in providing aviation security in

  ● Transport Canada
  ● Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA)
  ● Public Safety Canada
  ● Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
  ● Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)/Department of
National Defence (DND)
  ● Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)/Provincial or
Municipal law enforcement
  ● Airport authorities
  ● Commercial airlines
  ● Cargo companies
  ● Aviation Document Holders (pilots, flight attendants, air traf-
fic controllers, aircraft maintenance engineers)

Transport Canada is the federal agency that oversees aviation security

in Canada. It is the national regulator of aircraft operations. It develops
and follows policy and regulations that require all airports in Canada to
comply with safety management practices, particularly under the federal
Aeronautics Act. For instance, Transport Canada requires all airports
in Canada to deliver a course to all employees known as the Canadian
Aviation Security Awareness Program (CASAP). The responsible author-
ity for Transport Canada is the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure,
and Communities, which has authority to direct administrative rulings
on matters affecting Canadian aviation security. A Director General of
Aviation Security acts on behalf of the Minister to review decisions made
by a Transportation Security Clearance Advisory Body when issuing a
Transportation Security Clearance (TSC) for aviation personnel.
A TSC is a procedure under the National Civil Aviation Security
Program where Transport Canada reviews the backgrounds of airport
personnel in order to issue a TSC to work in the airport. This is done
only after a thorough criminal background check, usually after Transport

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126 Air transport security

Canada receives a Law Enforcement Record Check Report from the

federal RCMP. If an applicant is denied a TSC (or has one canceled),
that person may apply to the Federal Court of Canada within 30 days
of receiving the notice of refusal or cancelation. The TSC is a layer of
security that allows only those authorized persons to enter or remain in
secured locations at an airport, and thus guards against anyone unlawfully
interfering with civil aviation.
A few cases illustrate how TSCs work in relation to an airport employee’s
criminal background. In Sylvester v Canada (Attorney General), 2013 FC
904 (CanLII), a ramp attendant at Toronto’s Billy Bishop International
Airport submitted an application for a TSC, but was denied by Transport
Canada. The basis for the refusal was that he was previously charged
with three counts of theft while working for Canadian Airlines in 1999.
Although these charges against Sylvester were withdrawn due to cred-
ibility concerns, the Federal Court of Canada upheld Transport Canada’s
refusal to issue him a TSC. Drawing from Fontaine v Canada, 2007 FC
1160 (CanLII), the court’s reasoning was that where safety was a major
concern, access to restricted areas of an airport was a privilege, not a right.
An acceptable factor to be considered when reviewing a TSC application
included criminal charges which did not necessarily result in a conviction.
This implies that one may still be prone to commit an act unlawfully
interfering with civil aviation, even if the charges are stayed. Therefore, the
Minister’s refusal of a security clearance against Sylvester was justified.
A more recent decision in Doan v Canada (Attorney General), 2016 FC
138 (CanLII) follows the precedent rules in Fontaine and Sylvester whereby
the Federal Court of Canada held that one’s past criminal charges, despite
leading to no conviction, are enough to refuse a TSC to an airport employee.
Here, Doan was employed as a passenger service agent at the Vancouver
International Airport since 2014. But after Transport Canada received her
criminal background check, it was determined that Doan had come into
contact with police on several occasions (being arrested in a residence with
a marijuana grow operation, receiving a warning for managing a restaurant
where illegal gambling took place, and having her driver license suspended
after she was stopped for speeding and being in the company of a known
drug trafficker). These circumstances prompted Transport Canada to refuse
her security clearance. At issue was whether Transport Canada’s refusal of
Doan’s TSC was proper. The court held that her past conduct in those cir-
cumstances led to a belief, on a balance of probabilities, that she was prone
to commit further acts that may unlawfully interfere with civil aviation.
In Mitchell v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 FC 1117 (CanLII), a
pilot had his TSC cancelled from the Director General of Aviation Security,
when it was revealed that the pilot engaged in four incidents of illegal

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sexual acts. The basis for canceling the pilot’s TSC was that his proven
sexual acts, on a balance of probabilities, were enough to ‘unlawfully inter-
fere with civil aviation’, and therefore to deny him access to restricted areas
of the airport. The applicant pilot denied that his sexual conduct would
interfere with his duties as a pilot, and that it would adversely affect civil
aviation. He distinguished his case from previous cases where membership
in criminal organizations was used to revoke the TSCs.
However, the Federal Court of Canada, upon judicial review, rejected the
pilot’s arguments. First, the court pointed to section 4.8 of the Aeronautics
Act (1985), where the Minister may grant or refuse a security clearance
to any person, or suspend or cancel a security clearance. Second, the
court referred to provisions in the Canadian Aviation Security Regulations
(CARs) and the Transportation Security Clearance Program Policy. Both
the regulations and policy required the removal of persons without proper
identification from restricted areas of airports, particularly if the Minister
believed that person would unlawfully interfere with civil aviation. In
applying this rule, the court held that there was enough linkage between
the pilot’s past incidences of sexual conduct and his current duties as a
pilot, and that there was an escalating pattern of sexual indiscretion. The
concern was about future conduct that interfered with civil aviation. The
court made it clear that although sexual conduct need not itself directly
involve aviation security, this type of behavior was inappropriate for a pilot
who could disrupt services on board a flight. This case therefore reveals
how one’s TSC can be removed by a federal agency on account of one’s
criminality unrelated to aviation security threats.
The cases found above reveal how TSCs represent a layer of security
managed by Transport Canada. The legal standard to be applied for a
security clearance is a balance of probabilities, where the Minister may
refuse a TSC if a reasonable person would suspect an applicant’s past con-
duct would likely lead to future unlawful interference with civil aviation.
The standard is fact-based, and it depends largely on the circumstances.
But the objective is to retain those airport personnel that would keep the
airport safe and secure.



The CATSA is a federal agency directly responsible for aviation security.

CATSA was created as a Crown corporation in April 2002 under the
enabling statute known as the Canadian Air Transport Authority Act.
CATSA is funded by federal parliamentary appropriations, and it reports

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128 Air transport security

to Parliament through the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure, and

Communities. CATSA is responsible in four areas: (1) pre-board screen-
ing of passengers for prohibited items; (2) screening process with metal
detectors, X-ray technology, explosive trace-detection equipment, physical
searches and full-body imaging; (3) random screening of non-passengers
(flight crews, baggage handlers and airport maintenance staff); and (4)
managing the Restricted Access Identity Card (RAIC) Program for
non-passengers accessing restricted areas of airport terminals. CATSA’s
mandate for security screening occurs mainly by contracting third parties.
The RAIC system uses irises and fingerprint biometric identifiers to allow
non-passengers to access restricted areas of the airport.
CATSA may collect passengers’ personal data when there are prohibited
or concealed items that pose a threat to aviation security, contraband (includ-
ing illegal narcotics), a large sum of money carried by a passenger (more than
$10,000.00) and when that passenger behaves in an unruly or uncooperative
manner. If any of these conditions are met, a CATSA security officer has the
authority to record the passenger’s name and flight details, and to notify the
police to start an investigation. However, CATSA does not have the authority
to collect personal data for general law enforcement investigative purposes. In
2010, CATSA had 530 employees, 6,790 screening officers (contracted), and
an annual budget of $578 million. In 2014–2015, CATSA had screened over
57.3 million passengers at 89 airports across Canada, and received $283.4
million in funding from the federal government.
Public Safety Canada is another federal agency that works closely with
Transport Canada in delivering aviation security. For example, Transport
Canada and Public Safety Canada deliver the Passenger Protect Program,
which screens commercial passenger flights within Canada. The agency
was created in 2003 to coordinate with all federal agencies responsible for
national security against crime and terrorism. It deals with border strat­
egies and emergency management by working with five agencies – CBSA,
CSIS, RCMP, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) and the Parole Board
of Canada. The agency works on a special initiative called the National
Information Exchange Model (NIEM), a program begun in 2005 in the
United States. Here, there is sharing of information with the other levels
of government, airport authorities, law enforcement, and other agen-
cies. Under the Secure Air Travel Act, the Minister of Public Safety and
Emergency Preparedness has authority to ‘list’ an individual and direct an
air carrier to deny his or her boarding, if there are reasonable grounds to
suspect that person poses any threat to commit terrorist offences, or funds
for weapons, training, or recruitment. The Minister of Public Safety may
direct the air carrier to deny transportation to that individual, or require
that person to undergo additional screening.

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The Canadian airport authorities also play an important role in aviation

security. These are private, not-for-profit corporations that manage the
daily operations of airports under federal regulations. Prior to the 1990s,
Canadian airports were managed exclusively by the federal government.
By 1992, the Government of Canada transferred control and oper­
ations to private, not-for-profit airport authorities. In 1994, a National
Airports System (NAS) was created, and by 2003 all 25 NAS airports
were transferred from federal to local airport authorities. Although
many Canadian airports were privatized in the early 1990s, the transfer
of managerial powers from federal to airport authorities was such that
air navigation, air traffic control and aviation security still remained
with the federal government. So, the federal government retains power
over airport operations and ownership of the land where the airport is
The airport authorities are responsible for proper maintenance and
operations of all airports, which means ensuring streamlined trade and
commerce, as well as investing in infrastructure that enhances aviation
security. Managed by a board of directors, the airport authorities
enter into a long-term lease with the federal government, where the
authorities manage the airport, but the federal government retains
ownership of airports (given its constitutional power over aviation). This
includes coordinating with federal agencies (like Transport Canada) to
deliver layers of security within the airport itself (see Figure 8.1). This
partnership of the federal government and the private sector ensures
that the layers of security are maintained in an airport, but also ensures
streamlined travel and commerce. Airport authorities have invested
heavily in the Canadian aviation sector. In 1992, over $50 million was
invested in airports. In 2014, over $19 billion was spent in improving
airport infrastructure.
We discussed parts of the multilayered aviation security matrix. But
what about the actual layers of security? In Canada, aviation security
consists of multiple layers, including:

●● pre-board screening of passengers

●● verification of boarding passes
●● closed-circuit television (CCTV)
●● air cargo security
●● explosives detection
●● baggage screening (carry on and checked)
●● airport perimeter screening

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130 Air transport security

CATSA Public Safety Canada

Air Carriers

RCMP and Aviation Airport

Local Police Security Authorities

Passengers, airline crew, airport

employees, and aviation facilities

Figure 8.1  Canada’s multilayered security matrix

●● on-board screening
●● restricted area identification card.

Pre-boarding passenger screening involves the identification and profiling

of the individual passenger prior to boarding a flight. The idea is to collect
passenger information and cross-reference with a database to determine
if that person is a threat. As part of pre-boarding passenger screening,
full-body scanning (FBS) technology is used by CATSA at most Canadian
airports. The FBS system penetrates the clothing of passengers to reveal
images of the body to detect explosives or weapons. It works by project-
ing low-level radio frequency energy around the passenger’s body, and
having waves reflected back from the body to produce a three-dimensional
To verify boarding passes, the Boarding Pass Security System (BPSS)
was introduced in 2009, and is applied in all of Canada’s major airports.
This system captures information that is recorded on the face of a board-
ing pass, along with other data collected from the boarding pass bar
code. Types of passenger information include: (1) passenger name; (2)
priority status; (3) air carrier; (4) departure date and time; (5) gate; (6) seat

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Aviation security policy in Canada ­131

number; and (7) class/cabin and record locator number. The purpose of
the BPSS system is to detect any fraudulent or inconsistent information,
as this method cannot detect boarding passes that have been altered or
duplicated. Here, a boarding pass is scanned twice – initially by a CATSA
officer (using a handheld device) when a passenger enters a screening
queue, and then again by a stationary device prior to the X-ray machine.
The results are displayed on a monitor visible to a screening officer.
CATSA has installed closed-circuit television (CCTV) in most Canadian
airports to watch the movements of passengers from the waiting line
(screening queue) until they have been processed by screening officers.
The CCTV technology is managed by the Security Operations Centre at
CATSA’s head office, which means that live feeds can only be viewed at
this location. Footage from cameras is retained for 30 days, after which it
is overwritten. But, if required, the footage may be viewed by authorized
screening officials through software application. Only a warrant or court
order would allow the release of such footage under certain circumstances.
CATSA has produced signage to make passengers aware that CCTV is
being used to monitor and record their movements through the screening
Air cargo security is essential because any attack or delay on cargo cre-
ates significant disruptions in commercial trade and commerce. Designed
to secure the supply chain, air cargo security consists of containment of
an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in the cargo and (2) of an all-cargo
aircraft for use as a weapon. At present, all air cargo must be secured
prior to being loaded onto an aircraft. This includes cargo undergoing
Transport Canada-approved screening methods such as X-ray or canine
searches. In 2006, Transport Canada received $39 million to develop an
Air Cargo Security Program, while in 2009 it received an additional $14.3
million to implement air cargo security measures. The 2010 federal budget
saw Transport Canada receive $95.7 million over a period of five years to
apply its Air Cargo Security Program.



Several programs and measures administered by Transport Canada are

delivered across Canada to ensure that proper standards of aviation
security are met, including:

●● Canadian Air Carrier Protective Program

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132 Air transport security

●● National Civil Aviation Security Program

●● Air Cargo Security (ACS) Program
●● Airport Security Program
●● Emergency Preparedness
●● Intelligent Transportation Systems
●● Passenger Protect Program
●● Transport of Dangerous Goods
●● Emergency Security Control of Air Traffic (ESCAT) Plan.

CASAP is a mandatory program for all airport employees in Canada. It

is an online or instructor-led session prescribed by Transport Canada to
raise awareness of airport security culture, while ensuring that airport
employees are updated in the latest developments in aviation security. This
follows section 191(2)(f) of the CARs, which states:

As part of its airport security program, the operator of an aerodrome must

establish and implement a security awareness program that promotes a culture
of security vigilance and awareness among the following persons: (1) persons
who are employed at the aerodrome; (2) crew members who are based at the
aerodrome, and (3) persons, other than crew members, who require access to the
aerodrome in the course of their employment.

CASAP is a program involving both national and domestic (airport-­

specific) components, and all airport employees must complete both
sections. Here, airport employees learn about the concept of security
awareness, the aviation security legislative framework, the airport security
program, how security teams work and respond to incidences of threat.
The ESCAT Plan, found under the CARs, outlines the roles, respon-
sibilities and procedures for Transport Canada, NAV Canada and the
Department of National Defence to regulate the movement of aircraft
and to track hostile aircraft during emergency conditions. This plan is
used in three situations: (1) when an Air Defence Emergency has been
declared; (2) during a contingency operation or asymmetrical attack
in the opinion of a military authority; and (3) at all other times when
designated military authorities request Transport Canada to authorize
airspace restrictions to control air traffic operations. The ESCAT Plan
therefore represents a joint effort by the three agencies when the Minister
of Transport identifies an immediate threat to national aviation security.
It also controls civil and military aircraft operating in Canadian domestic

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Canadian aviation security is shaped by policy and law to safeguard the

aviation sector. These policies and laws fill the multilayered security matrix
and comprise various federal criminal laws (listed in the Criminal Code of
Canada) and transportation laws. The National Transportation Policy is
the most comprehensive aviation security policy in Canada because it is
associated with the federal Aeronautics Act. This policy clearly outlines the
overall nature of Canada’s approach to transportation policy:

It is declared that a competitive, economic and efficient national transportation

system that meets the highest practicable safety and security standards and
contributes to a sustainable environment and makes the best use of all modes of
transportation at the lowest total cost is essential to serve the needs of its users,
advance the well-being of Canadians and enable competitiveness and economic
growth in both urban and rural areas throughout Canada.

The policy therefore emphasizes a link between aviation security and a

competitive marketplace using standards. In fact, all aviation-based legisla-
tion in Canada is based on this foundational policy.
Supporting this policy, three provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada
deal with aviation security as ‘Offences against Air or Maritime Safety’ –
Sections 76 (hijacking), 77 (endangering safety of aircraft or airport),
and 78 (offensive weapons and explosive substances). Section 76 imposes
liability as an indictable offence on any person who, by force, threat,
or intimidation, seizes or exercises control of an aircraft to imprison,
transports passengers against their will, holds them for ransom, or causes
deviation in a flight plan. Upon conviction, an accused person can serve
life imprisonment for hijacking.
For endangering the safety of aircraft or airports, Section 77 of the
Criminal Code of Canada also imposes liability for any person who:
(1) commits acts of violence endangering the safety of an aircraft; (2)
uses a weapon to commit acts of violence against others at an airport;
(3) causes damage to an aircraft, rendering it incapable of flight; (4)
places anything on board that causes damage to an aircraft; (5) uses
weapons, substances, or devices that destroy or causes serious damage
to an airport serving international civil aviation, or causes disruption
to airport services; and (6) falsely communicates any information to
another that one knows is false and endangers the safety of an aircraft.
Upon conviction, the accused person can face life imprisonment. Section
78 imposes liability for up to 14 years in prison upon successful convic-
tion for any person who takes offensive weapons or explosive devices on

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134 Air transport security

board a civilian aircraft. In all three provisions (Sections 76, 77, and 78),
the offences committed outside of Canada are deemed to be committed
in Canada.
The following laws are relevant to aviation security in Canada:

●● Aeronautics Act (1985)

●● Canadian Aviation Security Regulations (CARs)
●● Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) Act (2002)
●● Secure Air Travel Act (2015)
●● Canada Transportation Act (1996)
●● Carriage by Air Act (1985)
●● Public Safety Act (2004)
●● Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act (1992)

The Aeronautics Act is chief legislation governing aviation security in

Canada. Section 4.2 of this law grants legislative authority to the Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure, and Communities to develop regulations
to deal with aviation security issues. The Aeronautics Act covers several
security-specific measures such as:

●● training and security clearance for aviation personnel;

●● protection of the public, passengers, crew members, aircraft, aero-
dromes, and aviation facilities;
●● designating restricted areas in aerodromes and aircraft;
●● screening and detention of persons and goods;
●● coordination with CATSA and air carriers;
●● security requirements for technology.

Security clearance for aviation personnel dominates the aviation sector.

For instance, section 4.7(1) of the Aeronautics Act prescribes minimum
performance standards by requiring screening officers to be at least 18
years of age, Canadian citizens (or permanent residents), and who must
undergo security clearance and successfully complete the Transport
Canada Airport Pre-Board Passenger Screener Course, as well as meet-
ing Transport Canada’s Designation Standards for Screening Officers.
Other provisions relate to the training and instruction of security
personnel for topics such as security controls, procedures at airports,
systems and equipment, recognition of goods and threat responses. Any
changes to aviation security legislation and regulations also require fol-
low-up training for such security personnel. It is mandated that security
officers must be capable of using handheld devices, walkthrough metal
detectors and X-ray equipment, and to detect explosive substances,

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weapons, or dangerous articles. This security clearance is an example of

the guiding principle of random screening, whereby airport personnel
can avoid security breaches by preventing their own staff members from
bringing  unauthorized articles or persons within secured areas of an
The enforcement tools of the Aeronautics Act, and therefore the heart
and soul of Canadian aviation security measures, lie in the CARs. These
regulations are meant to enhance preparedness for acts or attempted acts
of ‘unlawful interference with civil aviation’ and to detect or prevent such
actions. The regulations address key issues such as screening of authorities
and passengers, security functions of CATSA, weapons and explosives,
and prohibited items and aircraft security. The regulations also describe
how security officers must not allow a passenger to enter into ‘sterile areas’
or restricted areas from a screening checkpoint without proper identifica-
tion. This is why the regulations outline ‘documents of entitlement’, and
include boarding passes or tickets, RAIC, temporary passes issued by an
operator of an aerodrome, a passenger escort, or a courtesy lounge or
conference room pass issued by an air carrier.
Section 16 of the regulations also requires a screening officer to report a
‘security incident’, and notify the air carrier, airport authority and police,
if a weapon or explosive device is detected in a restricted area or screening
area. To ensure that proper security personnel are working in designated
areas of an airport, section 56 of the regulations requires CATSA to
provide for an ‘identity verification system’. Here, CATSA must verify
that a person with a RAIC is actually that person to whom the card was
issued, and that the card is active. The three steps to obtain a RAIC are: (1)
complete the Airport Security Awareness Training course; (2) apply for a
TSC; and (3) apply for a RAIC. One way of determining whether a person
is properly issued an active RAIC is for CATSA to check a biometric
template from a fingerprint image or iris scan of the person in question. As
such, CATSA must update and backup their identity verification system
database. The regulations go further in describing how a threat response
should be made by an operator of an aerodrome (facility where flight
operations occur). Indeed, identity verification provides a strong layer of
The Canadian Air Transport Security (CATSA) Act is legislation that
grants powers to CATSA as a federal agency to regulate aviation security
in Canada, while also outlining the recruitment measures for screening
personnel in the aviation sector. Enacted in April 2002, section 2 of the law
defines important terms in aviation security such as ‘screening’, ‘screening
officer’ and ‘screening point’. Screening refers to ‘a search, performed in
the manner and under the circumstances prescribed in aviation security

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136 Air transport security

regulations, security measures, emergency directions or interim orders

made under the Aeronautics Act’. Section 6 of the CATSA Act provides
the federal agency’s mandate as follows: ‘to take actions, either directly or
through a screening contractor, for the effective and efficient screening of
persons who access aircraft or restricted areas through screening points,
the property in their possession or control and the belongings or baggage
that they give to an air carrier for transport’. Notice that the mandate
highlights a screening contractor to provide both effective and efficient
screening of persons, meaning that proper training of security officers and
the use of modern technological devices should properly screen passengers
and their cargo. This is reflected in section 8(1) of the CATSA Act, where
the agency must establish criteria for the qualifications, training and perfor-
mance of screening contractors and screening officers. This criterion must
be ‘as stringent as or more stringent than the standards established in the
aviation security regulations made under the Aeronautics Act’. Moreover,
section 8(2) of the Act allows the agency to certify all screening contractors
and officers in lieu of these stringent aviation security standards. As such,
the CATSA Act targets both persons and their personal property within
the scope of aviation security measures.
Section 6(2) of the Act further provides that CATSA is responsible
for ensuring consistency in the delivery of screening across Canada, and
that the Minister may establish additional security functions to CATSA.
However, like all administrative agencies, CATSA’s mandate is limited
to its legislative authority serving the public interest, and its operational
jurisdiction is limited to aviation security laws. In managing CATSA, a
board of directors includes 11 people, two of whom must be chosen from
the airline industry. The board may make bylaws for the management
and conduct of the agency, including the formation of committees and
contracting policies. With respect to dealing with third parties in the
administration of aviation security measures, section 28(1) of the Act
allows CATSA to ‘enter into contracts, agreements or other arrangements
with Her Majesty’. This means that CATSA may form agreements with the
federal government, and its other agencies.
The Secure Air Travel Act is the newest form of aviation security law
in Canada. Enacted in 2015, section 8(1) of the law gives power to the
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to establish a list
of persons, upon reasonable grounds, whom are deemed to be engaging in
or attempting to engage in acts of terrorism. More specifically, the statute
gives the Minister authority to deny a passenger from boarding an air
carrier. A passenger may receive written notice of this fact. However, the
law allows that passenger to apply to the Minister to be removed from the
list. Illustrating the multilayered security matrix, the Secure Air Travel Act

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allows several persons and entities to ‘assist’ the Minister of Public Safety
and Emergency Preparedness in the administration of the Act, including
the Ministers of Transport, Citizenship and Immigration, member of the
RCMP, Director or employee of the CSIS and an officer or employee of
the CBSA.
A critical issue explored by aviation security experts relates to the
security of an airplane. Answering this is Part 8 of the CARs, dealing with
‘aircraft security’. These provisions deal with prohibited items on board a
flight, as well as escort officers. Sections 526(1) and (2) of CARs indicates
that an air carrier must prevent anyone on board to carry or access a
weapon or explosive substance. Section 527(1) requires an air carrier to
prevent anyone with a loaded firearm on board an aircraft, unless there is
an in-flight security officer. Under section 529, any unloaded firearm must
be stored so that it is inaccessible to any person on board other than crew
members. In-flight officers have different powers on board an aircraft.
Section 531 of CARs allows an air carrier to authorize a peace officer to
carry unloaded firearms if that officer acts in the course of their duties or
informs the air carrier that a firearm will be on board. Here, the officer
must present identification to the air carrier, and must complete a form
used by the air carrier to authorize such a firearm on board. This form
can be used to inform both the pilot and crew members about the officer’s
presence on board. However, section 532(2) allows a peace officer acting
undercover to request that the air carrier avoid revealing their presence on
For airport security, section 455(1) of CARs outlines the regulatory
framework to coordinate and integrate airport security by requiring
an operator of an aerodrome to establish an airport security program.
As part of this program, the operator of an aerodrome must provide a
security policy statement and adopt a security awareness program to all
persons employed at the aerodrome, while implementing a process to
respond to breaches of security. A current scale map of the aerodrome
must identify all restricted areas and security barriers. Under section
458(1) of CARs, an operator of an aerodrome must also have a security
committee to help advise on and comply with aviation security laws,
while promoting the sharing of information for the airport security
A summary of the relevant policies and legislation for aviation security
in Canada is found below in Table 8.1.

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138 Air transport security

Table 8.1  Aviation security policies and laws in Canada

Legislation Year Enacted Purpose

Aeronautics Act 1985 Governs all aviation security in
Canadian Aviation 2012  Canada
  Security Regulations Security measures to be applied in
  airports and air carriers
Canada Border Services 2005 Supports national security and public
  Agency Act  safety priorities, and facilitates the
free flow of persons and goods
Canadian Air Transport 2002 Empowers a federal agency to enforce
 Security Authority Act  Transport Canada aviation security
(CATSA Act) rules
Canada Transportation 1996 Legislation covering the
 Act  transportation industry, including
airlines, railways
Carriage by Air Act 1985 Gives effect to rules of international
  carriage by air
Secure Air Travel Act 2015 Enhances aviation security and
 preventing acts of terrorism in air

Policies Year Enacted Purpose

National Transportation 1996 To promote competitive, safe and
 Policy  efficient modes of transportation
for all Canadians
National Security Policy 2004 Integrates services of federal agencies
 to evaluate threats by exchanging
passenger information
Transportation Security 2009 Prevent the unlawful interference with
 Clearance Program  civil aviation, and the uncontrolled
Policy entry of persons into a restricted
area of an airport


Canada’s aviation security measures exist as a multilayered matrix, but are

continually evolving. Some of the latest issues and trends affecting this
industry include:

●● Privacy and aviation security

●● Review of Canada’s Transportation Act

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Aviation security policy in Canada ­139

●● Regulation of drones
●● Right to protest in Canadian airports

There have been concerns about how personal data is being used by the
CATSA. In 2011, a report was submitted by the Privacy Commissioner
of Canada entitled Privacy and Aviation Security: An Examination of the
Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. The purpose of the report
was to determine whether CATSA had used adequate controls to protect
passengers’ personal data, and whether its policies and procedures violated
any privacy laws under the federal Privacy Act. This law restricts any
federal agency to improperly use personal data of passengers more than is
necessary for any of their aviation security programs. This report focused
on CATSA’s collection and use of passenger information, and its use of
aviation security technology (such as FBS technology and closed-circuit
television). The report concluded that some personal data collected by
CATSA was unrelated to its mandate given under the CATSA Act, and
was therefore ultra vires – some of its collection activities went beyond its
legislative authority. Other recommendations were that CATSA should
permanently delete all personal data held as electronic or hard copies that
it does not have the authority to collect. However, its collection of personal
data from boarding pass bar codes was justified. The report made it clear
that CATSA should only collect personal data for security incidents.
In February 2016, the federal government conducted a review of
Canada’s Transportation Act. Key recommendations were made with
respect to aviation security. First, passenger screening should be more
efficient by replacing the current approach with a more intelligence-driven,
risk-based screening process. Second, the federal government should create
a public reporting system known as the Civil Aviation Issues Reporting
System (CAIRS). This informal reporting system should allow anyone
to provide feedback on safety issues or problems with Transport Canada
services. It is not designed for immediate emergency safety issues – that
requires one to contact the Civil Aviation Contingency Operations, or
In May 2015, Transport Canada received comments from aviation
stakeholders across Canada with respect to drones, or Unmanned Air
Vehicles (UAVs). Drones are nowadays a popular feature of business and
personal recreation use. But drones can be used for illegal and dangerous
purposes, thereby representing a threat to aviation security. At present,
the CARs require that a UAV operator obtain a Special Flight Operations
Certificate (SFOC) from Transport Canada. However, this depends on
two factors — the weight of the UAV and whether it will be used for
recreational or non-recreational purposes. The rule (as based on Transport

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140 Air transport security

Canada ­guidelines) is that if a UAV is 35 kg or less, and it is being used for

recreational purposes, a SFOC is not required. Rather, the UAV must be
flown ‘safely and legally’. This means one may fly a UAV during daylight,
during good weather, keeping the UAV in the operator’s line of sight, not
flying it within 9 km of an airport or higher than 90 m above the ground,
or within 150 m of people, animals, buildings or vehicles. If the UAV is
heavier than 35 kg, the operator must apply for a SFOC, regardless of the
type of operation.
In 2016, Transport Canada intends to disclose a Notice of Proposed
Amendment to develop a different approach for regulating small UAVs.
This newer approach is based on risks posed by operation rather than
whether it is recreational or non-recreational. The new regulations include
two categories for small UAVs weighing 25 kg or less – ‘complex oper­
ations’ and ‘limited operations’. The UAVs with complex operations
include urban areas or areas close to aerodromes (airports), while those
with limited operations include remote areas. Pilot training is a key regula-
tory requirement from Transport Canada. Here, the UAV pilot must be
considered a ‘pilot’ as defined under the Aeronautics Act and the CARs,
and must obtain a pilot permit. Furthermore, Transport Canada is sug-
gesting regulations that involve UAVs being marked and registered.
An interesting issue that has arisen over the years is whether the right
to protest at Canadian airports adversely affects aviation security. More
specifically, can the government regulate the public spaces of an airport
where people either distribute pamphlets or demonstrate? This began in
1991 with Commonwealth of Canada v Canada, 1 SCR 139, where the
Supreme Court of Canada held that any prohibition by airport author­
ities on the distribution of pamphlets in the public areas of an airport
violated the right to freedom of expression guaranteed under section 2(b)
of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (‘Charter’). The facts were that
political pamphlets were being distributed by persons at Dorval Airport
in Montreal, who were later forbidden by airport authorities to do so.
These pamphlets were meant to inform the public about the existence of
the Committee for the Commonwealth of Canada. The issue was whether
federal airport regulations (prohibiting advertising or soliciting at airports)
infringed on one’s constitutional right to freedom of expression under
section 2(b) of the Charter. If not, was the government’s action to prohibit
this freedom of expression at an airport reasonably justified under section
1 of the Charter (reasonable limitations clause).
In arriving at its decision, the Supreme Court of Canada balanced the
individual interest (in expressing a political opinion) with the government
interest (in providing safe passage and security at the airport) under the
auspices of section 2(b) of the Charter. The Supreme Court emphasized that

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a government’s ownership of an airport does not authorize it to infringe on

one’s constitutional right to freedom of expression that is guaranteed by sec-
tion 2(b) of the Charter. An important rule expressed was that an individual
was free to communicate only if their form of expression was compatible
with the function of the place and does not deprive other citizens of the effec-
tive operation of government services. If not, one’s freedom of expression
would not receive constitutional protection and the government’s action to
forbid the expression would therefore be justified. Here, the group’s freedom
of expression was compatible with the function of the airport when they
distributed pamphlets and informed members of the public about a group.
In 2013, the Provincial Court of Alberta extended this rule in R v
Booyink, 2013 ABPC 185. In 2011, eight members of an anti-abortion
group called the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform engaged in a
demonstration at the arrivals section of the Calgary International Airport,
carrying signs and distributing pamphlets in the arrivals section of the air-
port. The Calgary Airport Authority (CAA) issued trespass notices to the
protesters under Alberta’s Trespass to Premises Act, RSA 2000. The main
issue was whether the Canadian Charter applied to the CAA’s operation
of the airport. The rule was that the Charter applied only to government
actions, but may apply to private entities only if it is engaged in activities
attributed to the government. The court held that the demonstrators were
not trespassers as they had a fair and reasonable belief that they had a
right to demonstrate at the airport. Further, the Charter did apply to the
CAA because it maintained security in an airport under federal law, and
thus it was substantially controlled by government regulations. This meant
that the demonstrators’ freedom of expression under section 2(b) of the
Charter was permissible in the airport.
The Booyink matter spilled over into 2014 when the CAA sought an
interlocutory injunction against the same demonstrators. In Calgary
Airport Authority v Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, 2014 ABQB
493, the CAA argued that it suffered irreparable harm and damage as
a result of these demonstrations, as they are responsible for managing
the airport. However, the demonstrator respondents argued that the
CAA’s mandate to operate an airport was not harmed by the peaceful
demonstration in the airport’s public areas, nor was its safety, security
or efficiency compromised in any way. But the Alberta Court of Queen’s
Bench held that an injunction should be granted to the CAA against the
demonstrators. The court held that, on a balance of convenience, there was
a security risk to the airport because the demonstrators were interfering
with passenger flow, thereby creating a safety risk, as well as damaging the
reputation of the CAA. The court stressed the balance between a citizen’s
right to freedom of speech and peaceful demonstrations in Canada with

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142 Air transport security

the rights of a property owner in controlling access to the premises. Here,

the court ruled that the demonstrators disturbed and hindered passengers
traveling through the airport terminal, that their demonstrations created a
risk of confrontation, and that members of the public were angry that the
CAA allowed this demonstration to take place.
The legal implications of the right to protest at an airport are fascinating.
There is a balancing act of ensuring aviation security by a private entity
operating under federal authority, and protecting freedom of speech for the
demonstrators. From one perspective, an airport authority must comply
with federal regulations for aviation security. If demonstrators occupy public
areas of an airport this may compromise the safety and security of everyone
at the airport. From the other perspective, people have a right to freely
express their views and to peacefully demonstrate. The court was mindful of
this balancing act, and it chose to favor the safety and security of the airport
over freedom of speech. It is as if the court encouraged the streamlining of
security in an airport, rather than allowing demonstrators to disrupt airport
operations. The court appears to suggest that effective demonstrations could
be held elsewhere in public areas, and that any demonstrator could use the
demonstration itself to disguise a real threat to aviation security. Regardless,
it is a delicate balancing act between security and rights.


Canadian aviation security has evolved gradually into a multilayered secur­

ity matrix composed of several federal agencies, airport authorities, air
carriers, police, intelligence services, and security companies. This matrix
involves massive coordination of information and resources between
agencies to provide security in airports and to achieve the most important
legal objective – to avoid unlawful interference with civil aviation. This is a
broad legal objective that, through application of security clearances and
technological layers of security, guards against future criminal acts. Over
the years, many laws and policies have been modified and strengthened
through legislative amendments and federal agency reviews. Aviation
security in Canada is continually evolving and redefining secure air travel
for everyone.
At the top of the aviation security hierarchy is Transport Canada, which
oversees the multilayered security matrix. Under its guidance, several
programs and measures are delivered by various agencies across Canadian
airports to ensure safety and security. Current trends in aviation security
are replete with interesting legal issues. Ultimately, however, the Canadian
government must continue ensuring that aviation security is modern and

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efficient to protect the best interests of not only Canadians, but all those
connected with the aviation sector.


Aeronautics Act, R.S. 1985, c. A-2.

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) Act, S.C. 2002, c.9, ss.2, 8(1).
Canadian Aviation Security Regulations, SOR/2011-318.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982,
being Schedule B to the Canada Act, 1982 (UK), 1982, c.11.
Constitution Act, 1867 (UK), 30 & 31 Vict., c.3.
Doan v Canada (Attorney General), 2016 FC 138 (CanLII).
Fontaine v Canada, 2007 FC 1160 (CanLII).
Mitchell v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 FC 1117 (CanLII).
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Privacy and Aviation Security:
An Examination of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, Final Report
(2011), 7.
Parliament of Canada, Standing Committee on Transport and Government
Operations, Building a Transportation Security Culture: Aviation as the Starting
Point, available at
ocId=1032042&Mode=1&Parl=37&Ses=1&Language=E (accessed March 17,
R v Booyink, 2013 ABPC 185.
Sylvester v Canada (Attorney General), 2013 FC 904 (CanLII).
Team YYC, CASAP Training, ‘Canadian Aviation Security Awareness Program’,
available at (accessed
March 17, 2016).

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Safety and security in Brazilian
Dawna Rhoades and Michael J. Williams


After hosting the 2014 World Cup, which attracted the highest recorded
attendance since the 1994 World Cup, Brazil hosted one of the larg-
est global athletic events last year, the Olympic Games (FIFA, 2015;
The International Olympic committee, The Organization, 2017). On the
positive side, neither event experienced the security problems that critics
had feared. Brazilian security forces were able to manage the small-scale
protests that occurred during the World Cup as well as avoid riots and/
or major violence after the soccer loss to Germany (Day, 2014). Brazilian
police took over security screening outside of Olympic venues after the
contracted private firm failed to hire enough personnel and managed to
avoid any major incidences (Connors et al., 2016).
Unfortunately, deepening economic crisis and the massive cost overruns
from the World Cup soured many in Brazil on the huge capital investments
necessary to host the Olympic Games (Boadle, 2015). Brazil’s economy
shrank 3.8 percent in 2015 and 3.3 percent in 2016 (The World Factbook,
2017). Brazil experienced a major political crisis as it attempted to get rid
of government corruption and scandal by impeaching their first female
president on charges of manipulating the federal budget (Romero, 2016).
Inflation has risen to 8.4 percent and the Brazilian REAL has declined
over 20 percent against the US dollar since 2016 (CNBC, 2017; The World
Factbook, 2017).
While Brazil ranks fifth in the world in both population and landmass
and tenth in overall economy, the $15 billion spent on the World Cup was
a difficult pill to swallow (Wade, 2015). Originally, the government planned
for almost 75 percent of the spending to be directed toward general
transportation, security, and communication, but as the cost of construct-
ing the new sports stadiums rose money had to be diverted from other
projects, leaving almost half of the infrastructure projects unfinished after
the World Cup (CIA Factbook, 2015; Matheson, 2014). In addition to


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Safety and security in Brazilian aviation ­145

the unfinished infrastructure, problems with the sewage system and poor
water quality issues were blamed for serious bacterial infections detected
in several athletes in Brazil for an Olympic test regatta. These issues, which
many expected to be addressed before the 2016 Olympics opened, were
unfortunately never eliminated, exposing 12 million locals, athletes, and
visitors in Rio to varying levels of contamination in water (Brooks and
Barchfield, 2015; Tomkiw, 2016).
Like every developing country, Brazil has internal and external security
challenges. Internationally, disputes continue with Uruguay over Brasilieria,
an island in Quarai River. Illegal smuggling of narcotics and weapons, as
well as paramilitary activities on the borders of Brazil-Uruguay and Brazil-
Colombia continue to trouble the country (The World Factbook, 2017).
Internally, Brazil faces high crime rates in its major cities. While Brazil is
the leading digital nation in South America, online frauds losses cost the
economy billions of dollars. Transportation safety in Brazil is also a major
concern for the growing economy of Brazil. The road network outside major
cities varies across the country from extremely poor in rural areas to good in
major cities. Ground and air cargo theft remain problematic (Security, 2017).
The World Cup and the Olympics were presented as an opportunity
for Brazil to invest in security and transportation infrastructure in ways
that would provide long-term economic and social benefits, propelling the
nation to the next level of economic development and growth. While plans
were aimed at all modes of transportation, the air transportation system
was a significant target for investment because of its overall importance to
the economy and the special events. Sadly, like much of the transportation
system, the quality of the infrastructure was poor and congested, hamper-
ing the arrival of foreign guests for the events (Williams, 2016).
After a brief overview of the geographic and demographic landscape
of Brazil, this chapter will explore the current air transportation system
including the airlines, airports, aircraft manufacturers, air traffic manage-
ment system, and aviation maintenance and training facilities. Next, the
safety and security of the Brazilian air transport system will be reviewed.
Finally, the regulatory and security framework governing the aviation
sector will be examined.


This section presents a brief overview of Brazil as its geography and

population affect the design and importance of the aviation sector. It also
has significant implications for the safety and security of the system as well
as future demand.

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146 Air transport security

Table 9.1  Geography and population (2016, EST)

Total area 8,515,770 sq. km

 Land 8,358,140 sq. km
 Water 157,630 sq. km
Population 205,823,665
  Birth rate 14.3 per 1,000
  Death rate 6.6 per 1,000
  Median age 31.6
  Life expectancy 73.80
  Urban population 85.7%

Source:  The World Factbook, 2017.

Diversity: Geography and Population

Brazil has a total landmass of 8,515,770 square kilometers (Table 9.1)

and shares borders with Argentina and Uruguay to the South, Bolivia,
Paraguay, and Peru to the West, and Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana,
French Guiana, and Suriname to the North.
The northern part of Brazil is covered in rolling lowlands with tropical
rainforests in the Amazon region. The Amazon flows eastward out of the
mountains of Peru for approximately 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles). There
are no bridges over the Amazon River itself. Of its 1,100 tributaries, only
the Rio Negro, its largest tributary, can be crossed by a bridge located near
the city of Manaus (Carrington, 2010).
The estimated 2016 population of Brazil is 205 million (Table 9.1).
The largest cities include São Paulo with 21.066 million residents, Rio de
Janeiro with 12.902 million residents, Belo Horizonte with 5.716 million
residents, and Brasilia with 4.155 million residents (The World Factbook,
2017). Eighty-six percent of the population is classified as urban, a slightly
higher percent than the US, which is 82 percent. Like most developing
nations, Brazil has a relatively young population and a birth rate that is
slightly double that of the death rate. Brazil’s average population density is
relatively low at 25 people per square kilometer in 2015 (the US population
density is 35 people per square kilometer) (Population density, Food and
Agriculture Organization and World Bank population estimates, 2016).
The majority of the population is concentrated along the coast with the
interior Amazon basin being much more sparsely settled. In fact, it is
estimated that only about 25 million Brazilians live in the Amazon basin,
making the population density less than one person per square hectare
(Carrington, 2010). Access to the interior from the coast is achieved pri-

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Safety and security in Brazilian aviation ­147

marily by air or road. A significant portion of the air travel to the interior
involves non-commercial, general aviation aircraft and airports.


According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the air

transport sector in Brazil contributes $17 billion (2.3 percent) of Brazil’s
gross domestic product (GDP) and supports 837,000 direct jobs (IATA,
2015a). For the US, the corresponding figures are 5.4 percent of GDP
and 5.6 million direct jobs (US Department of Transportation, 2014).
Clearly, air transportation has a major impact on economic output and
employment. A developing economy like Brazil would strive to achieve
the impact of a leading aviation country like the US, however, building a
safe and secure air transport system requires investment in a number of
different areas. This section will explore the current state of the Brazilian
aviation landscape in the following key areas: airlines, airports, aircraft
manufacturing, general aviation, air traffic management, and aircraft
maintenance and training.


Like many countries, the airline sector of Brazil has experienced a high level
of instability over the past three decades. During the 1990s, four car­riers
dominated the Brazilian air transport sector (Varig, VASP, Transbrasil,
and TAM). Varig Airlines was considered the flag carrier and served as
the main international airline of Brazil. In 2001, GOL began flying as the
first low cost, domestic carrier in Brazil. Intense fare competition in Brazil
forced Varig to split in 2005 with GOL acquiring portions of Varig’s assets.
Shortly after the Varig breakup, Transbrasil and VASP went out of busi-
ness leaving TAM as the Flagship international carrier and GOL as the
chief domestic airline. In 2008, David Neeleman of JetBlue fame, founded
AZUL and began to grow rapidly. Avianca is the flag carrier of Colombia
and the world’s second oldest airline. In 2010, OceanAir of Brazil (founded
in 1998) was rebranded as Avianca Brazil since it was by then controlled
by Avianca holdings (Brazilian Airlines, 2015). In 2011, GOL acquired
Webjet to gain access to landing slots at several Brazilian airport and
announced an investment of $100 million by US carrier, Delta Airlines
(Kiernan, 2015). In this same year, TAM was acquired by LAN Airlines of
Chile (LATAM). For the period 2010–2013, these carriers enjoyed rising
passenger numbers and healthy load factors, although this did not always
result in positive operating income (Table 9.2).

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148 Air transport security

Table 9.2  Brazilian air carriers: operational and financial data

Category Year Avianca Brazil Azul LATAM

Passengers (000) 2016 9,211 19,899 33,790
2015 8,041 20,575 37,074
2014 6,881 20,028 37,932
2013 5,900 18,671 37,380
2012 4,723 10,149 37,771
2011 3,227 8,161 36,867
2010 2,274 4,415 33,679
Revenue Passenger 2016 10,237 18,235 57,007
Kilometers (Millions) 2015 8,930 18,636 60,690
2014 7,819 15,707 60,247
2013 6,306 14,972 59,255
2012 4,720 8,751 59,132
2011 2,909 6,973 56,718
2010 1,846 4,239 50,607
Load Factor 2016 83.8% N/A 83.5%
2015 83.4% 79.6% 82.2%
2014 82.8% 79.7% 82.9%
2013 82.1% 79.1% 79.7%
2012 79.4% 79.3% 76.5%
2011 78.7% 81.1% 73.4%
2010 74.0% 83.7% 72%
Passenger Revenue 2016 N/A N/A N/A
2015 772 1,803 3,716
2014 925 2,097 5,475
2013 800 2,178 5,897
2012 648 1,891 5,799
2011 469 933 5,293
2010 288 448
Operating Income/Loss 2016 N/A N/A N/A
2015 37 (98) (14)
2014 21 156 14
2013 23 177 (407)
2012 (26) (41) (326)
2011 (24) 15 585
2010 (34) (29) 463
Net Income/Loss 2016 N/A N/A N/A
2015 (4) (241) (329)
2014 (6) 37 (151)
2013 (17) 29 (758)
2012 (56) (196) (604)
2011 (53) (63) (157)
2010 (41) (56) 336

Source:  Flightglobal, 2017.

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Safety and security in Brazilian aviation ­149

Airlines are notoriously sensitive to the economic cycle and the economic
crisis of 2015 has taken its toll; airlines in Brazil announced combined
losses of USD $400 million for the first half of 2015 (Garcia, 2015). This
crisis led many carriers to seek additional investment. GOL announced an
additional $56 million investment by Delta Airline while AZUL received
$100 million from United Continental Holdings (Kiernan, 2015). The
Chinese HNA Group also announced a $450 million investment in AZUL,
making it the largest single shareholder of the company (Brazilian Airlines,
2015). Unfortunately, these investments were not enough to offset the
declines in passenger traffic. Overall, 2015 was a year of net losses for
Brazilian carriers (Table 9.2).


A 2010 report by McKinsey and Company concluded that seven of the 20

key airports in Brazil were suffering from overcrowding in passenger areas
and aircraft gates, leading to flight delays and cancellations (McKinsey
and Company, 2010). Table 9.3 shows the number of passengers at the five
largest airports in Brazil. These numbers include domestic, international
and transit passengers (passengers transferring in Brazil to a flight destined
for another country). The largest airport by total passengers is Guarulhos
International Airport in São Paulo. This airport is served by 45 airlines,
including two low cost carriers. Combined, these carriers offer service to 93
destinations. Guarulhos is the number one destination for arriving inter-
national passengers. For 2014, Guarulhos had 13,582,000 international
passengers compared to 4,781,000 for all of the remaining airports. Almost
all of these passengers were destination rather than transit, meaning that
they were not connecting to other countries or cities (Flightglobal, 2015).
In 2013, the Brazilian government conducted an extensive survey of

Table 9.3 Passenger numbers (000s) at the largest Brazilian airports


Airport 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010

Brasilia 19,504 18,145 16,560 15,901 15,011 12,050
Rio De Janeiro 16,942 17,262 17,274 17,813 15,204 12,606
São Paulo
 Congonhas 19,206 18,061 17,044 16,782 16,690 15,442
 Guarulhos 39,214 39,766 36,190 33,123 30,409 27,432
 Viracopos N/A 9, 847 9,331 8,932 7,766 5,591

Source:  Flightglobal, 2017.

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150 Air transport security

departing international passengers in order to understand the service qual-

ity attributes related to terminal design and the overall factors in customer
airport satisfaction such as check-in, security, convenience, and wayfinding
(Bezerra and Gomes, 2015). As the main international destination, the goal
of the study was to help improve the airport experience.

Aircraft Manufacturing

Since 2003, Brazil has been a top 10 supplier of manufactured aerospace

products to the US and is currently home to one of the largest manufac-
turers of large commercial aircraft in the world, Embraer. Embraer was
founded in 1969 to produce and market the Bandeirante, a turboprop
aircraft capable of carrying 15–21 passengers. In 1974, the company was
licensed to build Piper Aircraft for the general aviation market. Currently,
Embraer is among the top four manufacturers of commercial aircraft in
the world and is also an emerging leader in military aircraft productions.
At the end of the second quarter of 2015, Embraer announced a record
backlog of aircraft. At USD$22.9 billion, it included 1,668 firm orders
for its e-series aircraft and a firm order backlog of 531 (ITA, 2013; World
Airline News, 2015). Brazil also has significant aerospace manufactur-
ing capabilities in such areas as space systems, advanced composites,
unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and helicopters.

General Aviation

The general aviation (GA) sector, which includes all nonmilitary and non-
scheduled passenger and cargo flights, plays a significant role in Brazilian
aviation. In one of the latest reports on this sector, Brazil has 8,700 GA
owners and a fleet of 13,094 registered aircraft. The majority of these
aircraft are propeller, piston engine aircraft (Brazilian Association for
General Aviation, 2012). It is estimated that GA serves over 3,400 airports
or roughly 75 percent of the country (Agence France-Presse, 2012). Many
of the destinations are in the less developed interior where unbridged river
systems and unpaved roads make small aircraft GA a very viable option.
The largest category of GA after private aircraft is air taxi. This category
includes both fixed wing and rotor aircraft. These aircraft are available for
hire on a single or annual time/hour-share basis. There are 183 certified
air taxi companies and 314 companies offering specialized services such
as aerial surveying, photography, and inspection (Brazilian Association
for General Aviation, 2012). The six busiest GA aerodromes are located
in the metropolitan areas adjacent to São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba,
Goiania, and Belo Horizonte: Campo de Marte, Jacarepagua, Bacacheri,

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Safety and security in Brazilian aviation ­151

Pampulha, Congongas, and Santa Genoveva Campo de Marte (Brazilian

Association for General Aviation, 2012).

Air Traffic Management

Air traffic systems were first deployed following World War II and were
based on the new technology of ground-based radar. Once combined with
positive voice control, these systems served for over five decades as the
primary means of controlling air traffic. As the technology aged and air
traffic grew, these systems came under increasing strain. Like many other
countries, Brazil began to experience radar outages and system failures that
caused flight delays and cancellations. These became quite serious in 2008
and prompted the government to develop a long range plan for improve-
ment (CAPA, 2008). Around the world, these older systems are being
replaced with satellite-based systems for aircraft tracking and text-based
internet communications. In advance of the World Cup, Brazil began the
process of modernizing its military controlled system with expanded and
upgraded communication infrastructure for departure and inflight control
(SITA, 2014; Tompkins, 2015). Plans call for the new technologies to be
deployed across 23 airports by 2016 (Vivion, 2014).

Aircraft Maintenance

A significant sub-sector of the Brazilian aerospace industry is aircraft

maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO), which in 2013 was estimated at
$600 million (USD), and has continued to grow at a rate of approximately
5–6 percent (BusinessUSA, 2013). Oversight of civil aviation maintenance
requirements and the associated training is the responsibility of the Civil
Aviation National Agency (ANAC), Brazil’s aviation regulatory agency.
Maintenance programs are determined both by business objectives and
ANAC’s requirements. ANAC has a mission to promote safety and excel-
lence in the civil aviation system, in order to contribute to the country’s
social and economic development. In regards to the activities of aircraft
repair stations, the ANAC classifies companies according to the type of
services that they are able to perform. These services include aircraft,
engines, propellers, rotors, appliances, and other relevant components. To
further facilitate their oversight, ANAC has established standards, classes
and limitations on maintenance performed at a particular MRO facility.
Thus, any company that wants to be classified as an aircraft repair station,
should submit a request to the ANAC for a certification, specifying on
which aircraft, engine, propeller, rotor, equipment or component, they
will perform the maintenance service. Based on Brazilian Civil Aviation

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152 Air transport security

Regulation (RBHA) 145 a repair facility is evaluated on its technical and

organization qualifications and if deemed acceptable, a Brazilian Repair
Station Certificate (CHE) is issued to that company.
Brazilian Repair Station Certificates, issued by ANAC, are given to
aircraft maintenance companies and they are based on the patterns (stand-
ards) and classes shown in Table 9.4. Approved maintenance shops can be
certified in a particular class according to their technical field of expertise
and certification. That certification domain may be narrow or wide. Thus,
there may be companies that just have one class of certificate, while others
may obtain certification in more than one class within either the same or
different pattern. Table 9.4 lists the technical competence required in each
of the pattern and certification class. Considering classes belonging to one
particular pattern, each one requires different technical skills, due to the
level of complexity of the resources and technologies that are necessary
to perform the required tasks, as well as to the level of skills of the human
capital employed in maintenance activities. Classes with higher numbers
are associated with greater complexity (Machado et al., 2013)
ANAC’s certificated repair stations are sanctioned to the extent that
non-ANAC certified repair stations may perform approved maintenances
on Brazilian-registered aircraft provided such facilities are approved by
either the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) or European Aviation
Safety Agency (EASA). Such reciprocity is significant since an increasing
number of repair stations are operating in Brazil. Examples of such com-
panies include Delta TechOps, Goodrich Aerostructures, Honewell Inc.
Rolls-Royce Brasil Ltd., and TAM MRO (Airline Update, 2016).

Quality of Maintenance and Maintenance Issues

Although there are extensive aircraft maintenance facilities in Brazil,

there have been a number of maintenance quality issues over the past
several decades. Like any manufacturing facility, MROs require volume
and predictability to spread their fixed costs, employ trained and current
technicians and maintain a modern infrastructure. ‘Nose-to-tail lines’ for
one customer bring significant gains in efficiency, while ‘one-off checks’
pay the equivalent penalty. Economies of scale are an issue, especially with
small carriers without the maintenance infrastructure common at large
carriers. With smaller fleets and irregular scheduling of heavy checks,
the cost of parts (inventory) and maintenance has a higher proportional
expense than for larger operators. Parts availability is a significant cost
since supply lines from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and
customs are long and require expensive on-site inventory owned by the
airlines. As a region, South America lacks a uniform regulatory authority

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Table 9.4  Sample technical competence standards (patterns) and associated maintenance classes

Pattern C – Pattern D – Pattern E – Pattern F – Pattern H – Specialized

Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance and services
modifications and cells modifications and modifications, and aircraft equipment

SZYLIOWICZ 9781786435194 PRINT.indd 153

repair aircraft engines repair aircraft propellers and repair
rotors repair
Class 1 – Composite Class 1 – Conventional Class 1 – Wood Class 1 – Single Class –
structure aircraft, with engines with up to 400 propellers, metal or Communications and Specific activities
maximum approved H.P., per model composite, fixed pitch, navigation aircraft for the maintenance
takeoff weight up to per model equipment, per model implementation that
5,670 kg (aircraft) or aeronautical authority

2,730 kg (helicopters) upheld, per type service
per aircraft model (e.g., non-destructive
testing, floats, emergency
equipment, rotor shovels,
screen coating)
Class 2 – Metal Class 2 – Conventional Class 2 – All other Class 2 – Aircraft
structure aircraft, with engines with over 400 propellers, per model instruments, per
maximum approved H.P., per model instrument type
takeoff weight up to
5,670kg (aircraft) or
2,730 kg (helicopters)
per aircraft model.

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Table 9.4  (continued)

Pattern C – Pattern D – Pattern E – Pattern F – Pattern H – Specialized

SZYLIOWICZ 9781786435194 PRINT.indd 154

Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance and services
modifications and cells modifications and modifications, and aircraft equipment
repair aircraft engines repair aircraft propellers and repair
rotors repair
Class 3 – Composite Class 3 – Turbine Class 3 – Helicopters Class 3 – Mechanical
structure aircraft, with engines, per model rotors, per model accessories, aircraft
maximum approved electrical and
takeoff weight over electronics, per

5,670 kg (aircraft) or accessory model
2,730 kg (helicopters)
per aircraft model
Class 4 – Metal
structure aircraft, with
maximum approved
takeoff weight over
5,670kg (aircraft) or
2,730 kg (helicopters)
per aircraft model

Source:  Brazil 2005.

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Safety and security in Brazilian aviation ­155

on the scale of FAA or EASA and therefore is reluctant to depart from

OEM maintenance recommendations, which is a detriment to efficiency
(Canaday, 2015).


Aviation safety and security have been at the forefront of international

security since the events of 9/11. With two high profile international
sporting events taking place in Brazil, these areas have been the focus
of particular scrutiny. This section provides an overview of safety in the
Brazilian aviation sector, security issues for passengers and cargo, and
suggested actions to improve security concerns.


Brazil is rated as a Category 1 nation under the US FAA’s International

Aviation Safety Assessment Program (IASA). IASA assesses compliance
with international standards as established by the International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO). The assessed areas include legislation,
organization, licensing, operations, airworthiness, accident investigation,
air navigation systems, and aerodromes. According to the FAA assess-
ment, Brazil exceeds world standards in all categories (Aviation Safety
Network, 2010). While ICAO has its own voluntary safety audit system,
the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP), the program
is voluntary and no results from the audit are revealed. Like the ICAO
system, the system created by the IATA does not include public disclosure
of results, but all members of IATA are required to participate in the IATA
Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) program and funds were made available
for member airlines. The following airlines are listed in IATA: Avianca
Brasil, AZUL, and TAM Linhas Aereas (IATA, 2015b).

Security – Crimes against Passengers

Robbery and theft on airport property are serious problem at Brazilian

airports where travelers are the most common and easiest targets. The
frequency of occurrences recorded at the Guarulhos International Airport
Police Station in São Paulo increased 33.5 percent between 2011 and 2012.
The thieves are well-dressed and employ sophisticated techniques to distract
passengers so either they or their partners can rob or scam their victims of
their property. A common venue for these crimes are crowded common
areas such as check-in kiosks, baggage claim, shops, food courts, and

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156 Air transport security

r­ estaurants. Rather than outright robbery, subtle techniques are employed

to distract a victim so that luggage or other personal property such as wal-
lets and passports can be taken. When checking in for a flight a passenger
may be distracted by an unsuspecting employee to the point that a thief may
strike. Pickpocketing is another technique used along with subtly opening
zippers on backpacks or carried items. Thieves also communicate directly
with their victims by posing as a friendly fellow traveler. They will sit next to
the intended victim and strike up a conversation, either asking for informa-
tion or simply making small-talk. During the conversation, an accomplice
of the first thief will wait for the right moment before deftly walking away
with a purse, backpack, carry-on bag or some other property without being
detected by the victim. Other than outright theft, this technique can also be
used for the transportation of drugs or other contraband where the item is
secretly placed into a bag the unsuspecting victim is carrying and carefully
retrieved at a later point. Passengers are also targeted for other types of
crimes such as illegal cabs where unlicensed drivers pick up unknowing
passengers and either charge outrageous fares or rob them outright once
they are away from airport property (Duran, 2013).

Security – Cargo Theft

Stolen cargo is also on the rise at Brazilian airports. As a demonstration of

their organization and sophistication, criminals are aware of the increased
security around arriving shipments and instead target cargo that has
already been checked in and is not being monitored as closely. An example
of this practice occurred in early February 2015, when a team of criminals
took approximately $4 million in electronics from the secured customs area
at the Viracopos Airport in Campinas. Later that same month, around
$260,000 of electronics were also stolen from a cargo facility at Congonhas
Airport in São Paolo. And, approximately $20,000 in money intended for
a currency exchange house was stolen at an airport in Maceio City in late
March of 2015. General security at Brazilian airports is more difficult
to manage due to a lack of investment in surveillance technology or the
implementation of physical or electronic barriers. Also there are fewer
security and law enforcement officers working inside airport facilities
(Myer, 2015). In an effort to inhibit cargo tampering or theft, various
technological solutions are being implemented. ‘Cargo trackers’ is one
such technology that employs tracking and sensing capability on a device
packed securely within the shipment. Features include temperature and
shock sensing, location tracking, inflight shutdown for anti-interference,
long battery life, and a variety of other features (FreightWatch Security
Net, 2011).

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Safety and security in Brazilian aviation ­157

There are a number of safety measures recommended or in place for the

safe movement of both passengers and cargo. As the airline industry has
grown in Brazil, airport infrastructure has not always kept pace and often
neighboring cities or geographical constraints have impeded much needed
expansion. An increase in passengers and cargo without appropriate
security and safety measures has resulted in an understandable increase in
related criminal activity. Given the current state of airport/airline security
within Brazil the following lists describe recommendations for increasing
safety and security for passengers and cargo respectively:
Passenger Security:

●● Only exchange money in authorized exchange offices or banks, not

in airports.
●● Passengers should avoid using public (unlicensed) taxis and rental
vehicles. Only use the taxi stand located within the airport.
●● Always keep your luggage in site and within easy reach, even on the
●● Declare valuables carried in dispatched luggage such as jewelry and
electronics during check-in and take out insurance as permitted.
●● Keep your backpacks and other bags on the front side of your body
so you can monitor zippered and other pockets.
●● Use a bag with vibrant colors or patterns that is easily noticed and
identified. Ensure your name and other appropriate information is
on both the inside and outside of your luggage. This may reduce
theft in the first place or aid in identification in case of loss.
●● Use official airport information desks for directions and other
needed information.
●● Maintain stringent control and checking over travel documents –
passport and entry/exit cards.
●● Use biometric devices when available and appropriate.

Cargo Security:

●● When possible schedule movement of cargo so it does not sit over-

night at the airport, especially on weekends or holidays.
●● If the cargo must spend an extended period of time at the airport
(overnight), use paid storage in a secured area when available.
●● When it is possible, use airlines that allow the inclusion of smart
tracker devices.
●● Establish and maintain operational secrecy throughout the shipment.
●● When possible alternate between airports and make arrangements
as close to the departure date as possible. Include ground movement

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158 Air transport security

to and from the airport as part of the risk assessment and planning
●● Maintain stringent control and checking over shipping documents.


ANAC is responsible for aviation regulation in Brazil. According to IATA,

‘Brazil’s idiosyncratic approach to aviation could jeopardize its contribu-
tion to the development of the industry.’ The report cites the following
issues as illustrations of the problems they see hampering aviation: an
unexpected 2012 audit of all international airlines that resulted in tax
liabilities of over $10 million, a 75 percent import tax on Chinese-made
plates and silverware used onboard aircraft, high fuel costs from the state-
owned oil company Petrobras, monopoly ground handling provisions at
airports, airport slot availability and allocation, changes in air crew duty
and flight time requirements, regulations on excess baggage, and the failure
to participate in the Secure Freight initiative (IATA, 2015a). As an airline
trade association, IATA would be expected to highlight areas impacting
airline profitability and economic freedom; however, there have been
other instances that have raised questions regarding the approach of the
Brazilian government and ANAC. In an effort to deal with excess capacity
and predatory competition, the government partially re-regulated the
aviation market in 2003 banning new aircraft imports, controlling price,
and preventing consolidation (Bettini and Oliveira, 2008). Despite these
moves, air traffic continued to increase rapidly leading to severe strains on
the infrastructure that reached a crisis in 2006–2007 with a series of delays,
cancellations, strikes, incidents, and two aviation accidents that became the
deadliest in Brazilian history (Lohmann and Lipovich, 2013).


After a number of years as one of the stars of the BRIC countries, the
World Cup and Olympic Games were intended to showcase a Brazil that
was ready to shed the label of developing nation and assume a leading
role beyond Latin America. A massive building plan to improve the infra-
structure was designed to reassure the world that the host of two of the
largest sporting events in the world was a safe, secure, and modern nation.
Unfortunately, the world watched as Brazil grappled with economic and
political crisis brought on by massive spending, corruption, and allegations
of waste. The threat of the Zika virus only added to international concerns
over water quality, sanitation, and the ability of the government to deal

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Safety and security in Brazilian aviation ­159

with its pressing issues (Rios, 2016). Amid protesters from both sides of the
political spectrum in Brazil and deepening financial crisis, the Government
of Brazil raced to complete critical transportation infrastructure necessary
to get thousands of foreign visitors to and from the athletic events in safety
and security (Williams, 2016; Winter, 2016). For Brazil, the only good news
was that the athletic events did not experience any acts of terrorism nor
result in major domestic violence.
Economic crisis is always bad for aviation and the financial results in
Table 9.2 bear witness to the plight of Brazilian Airlines before 2016.
The World Cup and the Olympic Games were expected to increase both
domestic and international air traffic. The trends, however, are not good.
In the last quarter of 2015, airline passenger numbers took their largest
drop in six years as airlines raced to cut capacity. Viracopos airport,
whose new $800-million-dollar terminal sat gleaning but largely empty,
was further witness to the turmoil in Brazilian aviation. Its new terminal
was to become the largest hub in Latin America and bigger than London’s
Heathrow by 2042. The bad news continued for 2016 as the latest traffic
report from Brazil showed the first annual traffic decline since 2003.
Domestic traffic in 2016 decreased by 5.7 percent as capacity (total number
of seats available) fell by 5.9 percent. International traffic posted slightly
better results, although these two were negative at 20.27 percent for traffic
and 23.07 for capacity (Flightglobal, 2017). Unfortunately, it appears that
even these high profile events cannot make up for the slumping domestic
economy. Only time will tell if the investments made to strengthen Brazil’s
aviation infrastructure have created a safer and more secure system.


Agence France-Presse (2012). ‘Brazil’s GA sector booming despite global woes’,

Hurriyet Daily News. Available at:
Airline Update (2016). Airframe, Engine and Component MRO in Brazil, Available at:­subscrip​
Aviation Safety Network (2010). Brazil air safety profile. Available at: https://
Bettini, H.F.A.J and A.V.M. Oliveira (2008). ‘Airline Capacity settling after
reregulation: The Brazilian case in the early 2000s’, Journal of Air Transport
Management, 14: 289–92.
Bezerra, G.C.L. and C.F. Gomes (2015). ‘The effect of service quality dimensions
and passenger characteristics on passenger’s overall satisfaction with an airport’,
Journal of Air Transport Management, 44–5: 77–81.

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Boadle, A. (2015). ‘Brazil’s most costly soccer stadium may not host the Olympic
games’. Available at:
Brazil (2005). Comando da Aeronáutica. RBHA 145: empresas de manutenção de
aeronaves. Brasília-DF, 2005.
Brazilian Airlines (2015). available at
Brazilian Association for General Aviation (2012). ‘2nd Yearbook of Brazilian
General Aviation’. Available at:
Brooks, B. and J. Barchfield (2015). ‘Rio’s waters are so filthy that 2016 Olympians
risk becoming violently ill and unable to compete’, Business Insider. Available at:
BusinessUSA (2013). Aerospace Industry Overview in Brazil. Available at http://
Canaday, H. (2015). ‘Latin American Air Growth Strong, MRO Support Fragmented’,
Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 13, 2015. Available at: http://­aviation​
CAPA (2008, Sep 11). ‘Air Traffic Control still causing disruption in Brazil’.
Available at: CAPA – Centre for Aviation:
Carrington, D. (2010). ‘First Amazon bridge to open world’s greatest rainforest to
development’, The Guardian. Available at:­environ​
ment/2010/jul/29/manaus-bridge-amazon-rainforest (accessed August 7, 2013).
CIA Factbook (2015). ‘The World Factbook: Brazil’. Available at: https://www.cia.
CNBC (2017, February 2). ‘US Dollar/Brazilian Real FX Spot Rate’. Retrieved
from CNBC, Real Time Quote:
Connors, W., B. Parkin, and R. Jelmayer (2016). ‘Brazil police take over security
screening at Rio Olympics’. The Wall Street Journal. Available at: 7/29/2016https://​
Day, J. (2014). ‘Big events, big risks: Lessons from Brazil’s World Cup’, Forbes.
Available at:​
Duran, R. (2013). ‘Safety at Airports’, Brazil Business. Updated April 16, 2013.
Available at:
FIFA (2015). 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil in numbers. Available at: http://www.​
Flightglobal (2015). São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport-Traffic. Available
e​a rchTerms=%22Sao%20Paulo%20Guarulhos%20International%20Air
Flightglobal (2017). ‘ANALYSIS: Brazil Airport Concessions Face Financial
Crunch’. Available at:​
FreightWatch Security Net (2011). ‘FreightWatch Security Net Creates New Air
Cargo Tracker’, SupplyChainBrain. Available at http://www.­supplychainbrain.

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Garcia, M. (2015). ‘Brazil’s airline crisis is a perfect storm of economic woes
and bad politics’, Skift. Available at:
IATA (2015a). Special report: Brazil. Available at:
IATA (2015b). IATA Operational Safety Audit. Available at:
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Available at:
Kiernan, P. (2015). ‘Brazil’s Gol Airline deepens Delta Ties’, Wall Street Journal.
Available at:​-ties-1​
Lohmann, G. and G. Lipovich (2013). ‘Low cost carriers in South America’. In
The Low Cost Carrier Worldwide, eds. Sven Gross and Michael Luck, Ashgate
Publishing Ltd., UK.
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Maintenance Companies: A Preliminary Study’. Proceedings from the POMS
22nd Annual Conference, Reno NV, April 29 to May 2, 2011, Available at: http://​
Matheson, V. (2014, June 28). ‘Were the Billions Brazil Spent on World Cup
Stadiums Worth It?’ Retrieved from FiveThirtyEight:
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de Janeiro, Brazil: McKinsey and Company.
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tion estimates. (2016). Retrieved from The World Bank, Data: http://data.
Rios, E. (2016). ‘No, the summer Olympics will not be leaving Rio’, Mother Jones.
Available at:
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Impeachment Vote’. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.
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Janeiro. Retrieved from Reports, Crime & Safety Reports:
SITA (2014). ‘Brazil upgrades air traffic technology for World Cup and Olympics’.
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The World Factbook (2017, January 12). Retrieved from US Central Intelligence
Tomkiw, L. (2016, August 1). ‘Rio Olympics Water Problems: Athletes, Tourists
Warned About Pollution, Bacteria, Viruses’. Retrieved from International Business
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Olympic double header’. tnooz. Available at:​
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10.  Air transport security in Israel
Hillel Avihai


Aviation security in Israel has become one of the most challenging topics
of national security, and the Israeli experience reflects many aspects of
aviation security worldwide.
Broadly speaking, the evolution of the Israeli security strategy regarding
the civilian aviation industry, takes us back to July 23, 1968, when El-Al
flight 426 Boeing 707 bound for Tel Aviv from Rome was hijacked by three
members of the ‘Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’ (PFLP),
founded in late 1967 by Dr. Waddi Haddad and Dr. George Habash, and
was forced to land in Algeria.1
This incident which marked the birth of aviation terrorism in the Middle
East, may certainly be regarded as the first spark in a long history of avi­
ation terrorism which affects the entire civilian aviation industry worldwide,
not only due to the fact that since this incident, many other terrorists have
adopted various tactics of terrorism which are aimed at aircraft, but also –
and perhaps more importantly – because of the Israeli philosophy of the
meaning of the civilian aircraft, which represents a national icon (despite
the fact that most airlines today are privatized).
In this chapter, a window to the aviation security in Israel will be
presented and, yet, this window will be narrower rather than wide, due to
national security issues.
However, the author will share his experience regarding aviation secur­
ity, following his employment by the Israeli flag airline El-Al (1992–1997),
and following his expertise in aviation terrorism, which was the topic of
research of his Ph.D. thesis (2006).2
This chapter will present a brief history of aviation terrorism with
regard to the Israeli carriers, but the main focus will be on the Israeli avi­
ation security philosophy, which offers a unique perspective of the strategy
of preventing terrorist attacks aimed at the Israeli carriers. This strategy, of
which some aspects were adopted by other airlines and/or national decision
making, emphasizes the understanding that the Israeli perception of the


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civilian aircraft represents far more than another means of transportation.

With no exaggeration, an attack on an Israeli civilian carrier is considered
a strategic attack, which, in one case in 1986, almost caused the declaration
of Casus Belli against another country which conducted a failed attempt
to blow up an El-Al jumbo jet (Boeing 747) bound for Tel Aviv from New
York via London.3 It is important to understand the reality of the state of
Israel, which, from the first day of its birth in 1948, has suffered constant
attempts to attack its civilian infrastructure, and the Israeli airline has been
and will remain perhaps one of the top targets for terrorists.
The simplicity of hijacking the Israeli aircraft in 1968 alongside the
understanding that this successful attempt will cause other terrorists to
imitate this tactic, or worse attempts to sabotage an Israeli aircraft, have
caused Israeli decision making in the highest level to establish a philosophy
which will offer the highest level of security, and the efforts invested match
the Israeli understanding that targeting an Israeli airline is to some degree,
more severe than targeting other national symbols such as embassies or
other strategic targets, including other means of transportation such as
trains, buses or ships.
The perception of the aircraft as a symbol that represents the sover-
eignty of the state of Israel, alongside clear declarations by terrorists that
their top target is an Israeli airline, was emphasized inter alia, by George
Habash’s statement in 1970 declaring that ‘[w]hen we hijack a plane it has
more effect than if we killed a hundred Israelis in battle’.4
Since this one and only successful incident up to date, Israeli political
and security agencies have declared that aviation security is a critical
matter, and tremendous resources were and still are invested with regard to
economic, human and technological aspects, alongside the establishment
of unique personal profiling, aimed at one and only matter: offering the
highest possible level of security to the Israeli aviation carriers.
Therefore, the entire aviation security field in Israel is based on this
assumption, and major resources are invested in order to prevent terrorists
from targeting aviation infrastructure. However, this chapter will focus
only on airline security, i.e. aircraft security. The chapter will be structured
in the following sections:

Section 1: Types of aviation terrorism incidents focused on Israeli

carriers. This section presents some selected terrorism attacks aimed at
Israeli civilian aircraft (mainly against El-Al Israeli carrier) since 1968.
Section 2: Israeli security philosophy: Look for the bomber! This
section presents the Israeli perception of aviation security by high-
lighting the differences between the Israeli perception compared with

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American and European aviation security, prior to the September 11,

2001 attack.
Section 3: Israel’s aviation security in practice: the multi-circle strategy.
This section presents (taking into account some classified restrictions)
the Israeli aviation security in practice.
Conclusions: The Israeli perception of the civilian aircraft: Can it be
adopted worldwide?



For a start, the relevant chosen tactics of aviation terrorism are as


●● Hijacking or an attempt to hijack the aircraft itself.

●● Hijacking the aircraft as well as taking hostages.
●● Destroying the aircraft only, and releasing the hostages.
●● On-board or in-flight assassination.
●● Sabotage or an attempt to sabotage in the air or on the ground.
●● Targeting the aircraft by anti-air missiles or other means during
flight or on the ground.
●● Using the aircraft as a flying missile and flying it into a selected
symbolic target conjoined with a suicide bomber. The aircraft may
host passengers or it may host the hijacker(s) alone.
●● Using the aircraft as an agent for the spread of Weapons of Mass
Destructions (WMD), such as chemical or biological weapons.

The Israeli experience with regards to terrorist tactics includes hijacking,

with two main incidents considered the most relevant: the 426 flight of July
23, 1968, and the 216 flight of September 6, 1970.5
As to sabotaging attempts, two main incidents are considered as the
most relevant to this chapter: the El-Al Boeing 707 jet of August 16, 1972,
when a bomb exploded in the aircraft belly without destroying the aircraft
in mid-air,6 and the ‘Nezar Hindawi plot’ of April 17, 1986 – the attempt
to sabotage an Israeli jumbo jet in mid-air, using Hindawi’s pregnant
girlfriend passenger as an unwitting accomplice.7
As to missile or rocket attacks (referring mainly to shoulder missiles –
MANPADS,8 mainly SA-7 Russian missile named ‘Strella’, and a shoulder
anti-tank RPG rocket), three main incidents are considered as the most
relevant to this chapter: the missile attack on September 5, 1973 on an
El-Al Boeing 707 Jet at Fiumicino airport in Rome, conducted by five

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terrorists related to the ‘Fatah’ Palestinian movement,9 the MANPADS

attack against El-Al Boeing 707 jet on January 25, 1976 during a stopover
at Nairobi’s Embakasi International Airport (Kenya) from Johannesburg
to Tel Aviv, and the third incident was the failed attempt to down an
Israeli Boeing 757 jet airliner operated by ‘Arkia airlines’ after take-off
from Mombasa Kenya on November 28, 2002, by what was referred to as
Al-Qaeda terrorists.10
Yet, some other incidents are burnt in Israeli security history, such as the
commando assault on the Belgian Sabena Boeing 707 jet flight on May 8,
1972, hijacked by four terrorists affiliated to ‘Black September’ terrorist
group by two men and two women,11 or the commando rescue operation
of the hijacked Air-France Airbus jet to Uganda on June 27, 1976 and
other incidents, some of them never published. Yet, these incidents men-
tioned above, are probably the most significant incidents which shaped the
Israeli security philosophy, considered as one of the most efficient systems



Look for the bomber rather than the bomb, do not rely only on technology
detection and pay attention to the passengers’ intention, and sky security starts
with ground activity. (Avihai, 2006)

The Israeli philosophy, which was built on a multi-circle strategy, is based

on a few assumptions:

1. The aircraft represents the state of Israel and therefore should be

regarded as a national symbol whenever it lands, takes off and flies. In
all these cases, the aircraft should be guarded.
2. The focus should be first and above all on the passenger and on his
luggage. The basic conception is that since to conduct a terrorist attack
there is a need for a means (such as a weapon or bomb), the intention
of the attacker is the main issue regarding aviation security.
3. The security measures should be constructed with a few security circles
or layers, visible and invisible technologies and well-trained personnel.
4. The best way to prevent terrorists from attacking the aircraft, is by
ensuring that the aircraft will be declared as a ‘sterile object’ as well
as its nearest area and only authorized personnel will have access to
the aircraft, after being checked and background confirmed by the
security personnel.

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5. The potential terrorist is a Middle East Arab/Palestinian, including an

Arab-Israeli citizen, whenever it is a male or female, younger or elder
or non-Arab but affiliated with terrorist organizations worldwide.
The chance that a Jewish citizen (Israeli or any Jew around the world)
would be involved in a terrorist attack against Israeli aircraft is
6. The average Israeli citizen is willing to accept some inconvenience
regarding security checks, as long as he feels secure.

These assumptions were taken into account while establishing the Israeli
aviation security philosophy.


Generally speaking, the security concept is based on a few ‘security circles’:

the plane itself, the area around the plane, the airport where the Israeli
airplane is parked, about to take-off or preparing to land at an airport.
Another circle relates to the aircraft route, which is monitored (there were
times were the plane was even escorted by fighter jets, at some routes).
With regard to these circles, two main platforms were adopted, which
represent the ‘core’ of the Israeli security strategy: professional synergy of
technological detection measures and well-trained personnel.12

The First Circle: the Aircraft

The Israeli experience has shown with no doubt, that once a terrorist has
managed to overcome all security measures at the airport and is on board
with the intention to hijack the plane, well-trained security personnel is the
answer. This practice took place in the ‘Dawson Field affair’ of September
1970, when a security guard managed to foil Leila Khaled’s and her col-
league’s (Patrick Arguello) intention to hijack the plane. His action, as well
as the maneuver of the pilot, emphasized the necessity for a means which
is considered as the ‘last line’ which will face hijacking attempts.
The presence of armed personnel on a civilian aircraft is a sensitive issue,
involving security, political and international implications. Some other
airlines have adopted the practice of armed personnel on board, but some
past incidents relating to foreign airlines showed that the effectiveness of
this means depends on the training of the security guard. Israeli on-board
security personnel are the chosen few from many, and they are subject to
constant checks, training and regular personnel characteristic checks.13
But armed personnel is only one of the measures that are implemented

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168 Air transport security

on board a commercial aircraft. Some other means, visible and invisible,

are aimed at preventing an unauthorized person from entering the cockpit.
Generally speaking, the cockpit door will never be opened to the cabin
during flight, without at least one additional measure which has been
deployed during opening the cockpit door (such as in a case when the pilot
wishes to step out the cockpit during flight or when one of the cabin crew
wishes to get inside).14
As to the threat of sabotaging the aircraft by means of a smuggled bomb
into the belly, the incident of El-Al’s flight on August 16, 1972, emphasized
the Israeli perception of aircraft security, by implementing multi-level
defensive measures; in this case installing strengthened containers, making
them blast-resistant. Despite damage that was caused to the rear door and
a hole in the baggage compartment, which was caused by 200 grams of
explosive that was hidden in a record player equipped with a barometric
detonator, the aircraft managed to land safely.15
This simple measure, if installed in Pan Am’s flight 103 (December
1988), could have avoided the destruction of the ‘Clipper Maid of the
Seas’ jumbo jet, despite the fact that a suitcase with the Semtex bomb was
loaded on board without identification of the passenger.
To summarize this aspect of Israeli strategy regarding hijacking attempts
is based on technical/technological measures but the most important meas-
ure is the human shield, i.e. well-trained armed personnel.

Second Circle: Around the Aircraft

The Israeli perception regarding aircraft security is based on the ‘sterile area’,
meaning, that only authorized personnel will have access to the airplane, and
this refers to cabin cleaners, mechanical/maintenance personnel, fuel and
catering personnel and others. No person will enter the aircraft without being
checked manually by Israeli or local authorized trained personnel.
This practice, which is unique to the Israeli airline, is possible due to the
fact that the entire Israeli fleet, which involves three airlines: El-Al, Arkia
and Israair, contains less than a hundred aircraft (some other airlines –
European, American and Asian – hold fleets of hundreds and thousands
of aircraft).
The aim of this practice is to ensure that the aircraft has been monitored
from the moment it landed until it takes off.

Third Circle: the Terminal Security

Perhaps the most well-known incident which has been an integral part of
any aviation security person training plan, was the ‘Nezar Hindawi’ case

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(known to security personnel as the ‘Ann Murphy case’), of April 17, 1986
at Heathrow airport, when an Israeli security officer managed to foil a
Syrian-Palestinian plot to sabotage an Israeli jumbo jet bound for Tel Aviv
from New York via London, using an Irish girl named Ann Mary Murphy,
who was Nezar Hindawi’s fiancée.
Hindawi’s operators succeeded in installing 1.5 kg of Semtex explosives,
equipped with a sophisticated timer, slipping through the British security
checks at Heathrow airport. Following an interview held by the author
with the security officer, he admitted that there were certain suspicious
signs in Murphy’s behavior.
The security officer decided to re-check Murphy’s bag, and when he
picked it up and walked 10 to 15 meters away from the check-in counter to
the X-ray machine, he realized that the bag was too heavy for its size and
weighed at least 1 kg more than it should have.
The fact is that without the Israeli security officer’s ‘gut feeling’, 375
passengers could have perished. It was not the technology that prevented
this deadly attack from being carried out, but a well-trained and highly
motivated security officer. Not luck played a role in this incident, but well-
trained personnel who made the difference between success and a major
The necessity of monitoring every single element, passenger or piece of
luggage before entering the Israeli aircraft is the ‘hard core’ of the Israeli
strategy, and a well-known experience of any passenger who is about to
embark on an Israeli jet (but also for passengers who wish to fly to Israel
with a foreign carrier or who are about to leave Israel with an Israeli carrier
or a foreign one).
To emphasize the airport security personnel aspect, two issues should
be highlighted:

1. The understanding that no passenger, ground personnel or a piece of

luggage will embark on the aircraft or will be placed near the aircraft,
is a basic concept of Israeli security, which emphasizes the necessity
to ensure that no suspicious source, human or physical element will
be able to overcome the security checks. But there is another issue: the
tragedy of the Pan Am explosion in mid-air (December 1988), was a
result of a piece of luggage which was loaded on the jumbo jet, with-
out making a verification that the passenger who owned the suitcase
was on board. This basic fact emphasizes the Israeli point of view:
ensuring and verifying that no item will be loaded on board, without
the passenger who owns the suitcase. Indeed, aircraft also carry post or
commercial goods but these items are well checked before being loaded
into the Israeli aircraft.

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170 Air transport security

2. The understanding that security personnel have to focus mainly on

the passenger and not mainly on his luggage, is the basic difference
between the Israeli security philosophy compared to other airlines,
especially before the 9/11 attack but also in the aftermath of this worst
terrorist attack against aviation so far. The Israeli perception is based
on profiling passengers, categorizing each of them by a wide range of
parameters, which, due to national security aspects, will not be dis-
cussed here. However, generally speaking, the profiling philosophy was
successfully tested in the Ann Murphy case, where she had no idea that
her fiancée had placed a bomb inside her luggage.

The profiling system clearly shows, despite constant criticism as to the

legitimacy of this practice, that well-trained personnel, adopting the profil-
ing system, have shown its efficiency.
The Israeli profiling system is also useful with regard to the ‘modern
terrorists’, mainly fundamental terrorists, who adopt the ‘immediate ter-
rorism’ approach i.e. no negotiation for passenger exchange (unlike during
the late 1960s and 1970s), and rather adopt the suicide tactic as occurred,
for example on September 11, 2001. The Israeli profiling system has the
ability to focus and track any passenger when his personal characteristics
indicate that he should be inspected and monitored, sometimes even before
he arrives at the terminal.
Should the profiling system have been implemented effectively at
American Airports on the morning of September 11, 2001, perhaps the
tragedy could have been prevented.
The role of the establishment of well-trained security personnel, or,
using the author’s term, ‘human eye platform’ was, in fact, emphasized
during the September 11 attack. On that day, the terrorist group leader,
Muhammed Atta, arrived at Portland’s airport after buying two first-class
tickets via the internet for the 6 a.m. US AIR flight to Boston with a
connecting flight to Los Angeles. The ticket agent, who was manning the
check-in counter at the time, admitted that a $2,500 first-class ticket was
not an everyday occurrence. In addition, he admitted to being troubled by
the expression on Atta’s face: ‘He had the most hateful and angry look. I
had never felt like this before . . . I looked at him and thought: My God, I
sense terrible anger . . . but I said to myself: if this man does not look like
an Arab terrorist, nobody does.’
However, the ticket agent decided, despite his ‘gut feeling’, to let Atta
and his colleague, Abdul Aziz al-Mari, pass – mainly because of their bags
which gave the impression that they were businessmen.
Another interesting example, probably not known, refers to the PFLP
attempt to hijack the Israeli Boeing 707 on September 1970 (‘the Dawson

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Field affair’), where four terrorists were assigned to take over the Israeli jet,
knowing that security personnel were placed on board, and therefore they
decided to recruit another two terrorists, in addition to Patrick Arguello
and Leila Khaled.
The hero of this incident was, undoubtedly, the aircraft captain, Uri
Bar-Lev. First, he succeeded in preventing the embarkation of two of
the four terrorists (only Leila Khaled and Patrick Arguello succeeded in
boarding, despite the security checks).
The security officer, who warned Bar-Lev of his suspicions regarding
the two Senegalese passport holders, alerted Bar-Lev to the fact that
­‘something was odd . . . I couldn’t tell exactly what, but something was
wrong . . . causing Bar-Lev to re-check their passports’.16 Bar-Lev discov-
ered that these two ‘passengers’, who had bought two first-class tickets and
had checked in at the last minute, presented passports with consecutive
numbers and, as a result, he refused permission for these passengers, who
appeared to be two of the four terrorists, to board the Israeli airline.
Even if technology today is able to signal when two or more passports
with consecutive numbers are presented and screened, it is important to
remember that this event occurred more than 40 years ago, when such
technology was not available, so that the human eye had to replace the
technology which, as mentioned above, was unavailable at that time.
This evidence emphasizes the critical role of human inspection in
observing suspicious behavior such as body-language. Suspicious answers
resulting from questioning (known as the ‘profile system’), based on past
incidents, clearly show that tragic results could have been avoided. These
‘suspicious signs’ cannot be detected efficiently by machinery. On the other
hand, machinery does not suffer from fatigue, erosion, or short-memory
relating to suspicious behavior, or from strikes caused by union policy.
Despite the critical role of human inspection, it has certain limitations,
and the ‘human factor’ does not produce 100 percent results. There have
been cases where ‘passengers’ have succeeded in boarding an aircraft
without a flight ticket (at least on one occasion during the 1990s, a journal-
ist boarded an El-Al flight to Kenya, after bypassing security checks), or,
when a mentally ill male managed to reach the gate at Ben Gurion Airport,
one of the most secure airports worldwide, with a non-valid ticket, after
being inspected by security personnel.
And yet, airport security does not end in the description above. Should
you land at any international airport flying an Israeli airline somewhere
around the world, be sure that many eyes are watching the aircraft. Some
of them are visible. Some of them are watching and monitoring the aircraft
even before touch-down, during taxiing, while parking and during take-off.
These measures are aimed at preventing terrorists from targeting the Israeli

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172 Air transport security

jet using MANPADS or other rocket launchers. Again, the Israeli experience
has shown that terrorists have not given up their efforts to target an Israeli jet,
and launching a missile against the aircraft is one of their favored tactics.17

Fourth Circle: Preventing the Use of the Aircraft as a ‘Flying Missile’

Analyzing terrorist attacks against the aviation industry, alongside the

transformation from secular ideology, which represented most of the
terrorist organizations in the late 1960s until mid-1980s, towards religious-
fundamental ideology, which arose at the mid-1980s and in greater scale
opening the third millennium, clearly shows the escalation of aviation
threats, especially where the hijacking for exchange was the well-known
practice of the 1970s, towards sabotaging or destroying the aircraft by
using is as a flying missile, as occurred in the 9/11 attack.18
This escalation was taken into account, with regard to two main threats:

1. Missile attacks, focusing on mainly Russian MANPADS such as SA-7,

SA-14, SA-16 and the latest, the Russian ‘Verba’ missile.
2. Using a hijacked aircraft for the purpose of using it as a flying missile,
targeting a strategic civilian infrastructure in Israel.

As to the first threat, Israel faced a wake-up call on November 28, 2002,
when twin SA-7 (Strella) missiles were launched at ‘Arkia’ Boeing 757 flight
582, bound for Tel Aviv from Mombasa. The combination of malfunction
as well as unprofessional activation of the missiles, saved Israel from the
worst aviation catastrophe conducted by terrorists. This incident was the
trigger for offering a defensive system, adopted from a military aircraft,
which deals with this kind of threat by using flares that divert the infra-
red missile from the aircraft. This system, named ‘Flight Guard’, was
not adopted by the Israeli aviation industry for various reasons, but one
disadvantage of the system was that it aimed at confronting first generation
MANPADS such as the SA-7, while terrorists are equipped with modern
and sophisticated missiles, such as the advanced Russian SA-14, SA-16 etc.
or even the American ‘Stinger’ missile. These missiles are equipped with
the technology that enables them to distinguish between the main target,
i.e. the aircraft and flares. During 2015, a new sophisticated system named
‘Magen Rakia’ (‘Sky Shield’), developed in Israel (as well as the Flight
Guard system), was adopted and already installed under the aircraft belly.19
As to the threat of using the aircraft as a flying missile, Israel has
adopted a well-established procedure which is aimed to ensure that no
unidentified aircraft will penetrate the Israeli airspace without being
identified. This system refers to civilian aircraft but also takes into account

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previous attempts to launch small unarmed vehicles (UAVs), mainly from

the Lebanese border and lately from the Gaza Strip.
As to the threat of a hijacked civilian aircraft that is aimed at crash-
ing into a skyscraper or into civilian strategic infrastructures, various
identification procedures have been placed, and every carrier which flies
to Israel has to follow a series of identifications as it approaches specific
locations. Attention was given to this threat since Israel has a limited range
to respond towards an aircraft that was not identified and approaches
the Israeli border, due to its narrow and small territory. Some specific
technologies enable Israeli security agencies to know who flies the aircraft
and other critical information.
Other attention was given to the threat of targeting the main interna-
tional airport (Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv) with ground missiles,
due to the short distance from the West Bank.
All these measures mentioned above, offer a small glance at the Israeli
aviation security strategy.


When Leila Khaled tried to hijack the El-Al jet, the captain Uri Bar-Lev
declared that ‘My aircraft will not be hijacked!’
This statement represents, perhaps by the best example, the philosophy
of the Israeli aviation security.
The perception of the Israeli aircraft by the Israeli authorities is far
more significant than just another civilian target. It represents the exist-
ence of the state of Israel despite constant efforts, since the first day of
the creation of the state, to delegitimize its existence. Since the first day
there has been only one successful hijacking of an Israeli jet in July 1968,
Israel has invested enormous efforts in order to establish a proven security
strategy regarding securing the Israeli aircraft. Despite the fact that none
of the Israeli carriers are national flag carriers owned by the government,
the aircraft remain a top target for terrorists who wish to achieve mega-
publicity by managing to target an Israeli aircraft. For them, hijacking-
for-bargaining is no longer a preferred tactic, but rather sabotaging the
aircraft or using a shoulder missile at the aircraft and, in a worse scenario,
using the aircraft as a flying missile, or launching small UAV aircraft and
the horrific but possible option, loading it with WMD.
This chapter emphasized the understanding that only a well-established
synergy between the technological platform and the ‘human eye detection
platform’, can offer efficiency as proven with regard to Israeli history of
aviation terrorism.

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174 Air transport security

Table 10.1 Human element vs. technological element: a comparison


Human element Technology element

Advantages: Advantages:
1. Inter-personnel ability to detect 1. Advanced passenger authenticity
suspicious passengers (biometrics)
2. Circumstantial element as a factor 2. Product homogeneity
that raises human suspicions 3. No mass fatigue
3. Common sense 4. Time saving
4. Effectiveness proven in previous 5. Adequate on-line database
incidents ‘Computer Assisted Passenger
Prescreening System’ (CAPPS)
6. Offers international
standardization (ISO).
Disadvantages: Disadvantages:
1. Lack of ‘product similarity’ 1. Absence of ‘gut feeling’
between security personnel 2. Lack of ability to accumulate
2. Mass-fatigue reduces security circumstantial elements
effectiveness 3. Ability to overpower detection
3. ‘Short memory’ technology
4. Human error 4. False alarms cause the reduction
5. Lack of motivation of machinery sensitivity, which
6. Human biases. increases probability of smuggling
7. Difficult to ‘export’ the ‘product’ weaponry
to other countries 5. High cost may prevent third-
world states from purchasing the
6. Requires constant training and
efficient supervision

Source:  Avihai, H., Evolution and Escalation of Aviation Terrorism: From Bargaining Chip
Fashion to Total Destruction Orientation, Ph.D. thesis (2006).

Indeed, each of these platforms offers advantages as well as disadvantages,

as presented in Table 10.1.
The combination of these platform emphasize the understanding that
analyzing potential terrorists intentions requires the use of psychological
analysis as well as identifying external signs that may indicate that the pas-
senger is about to take a one-way ticket rather than boarding a plane for
the purpose of flying on a vacation or business trip.
For decades, the Israeli security philosophy was aimed at the passenger’s
intentions, and the profiling system was highly adopted, despite some

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Air transport security in Israel ­175

criticism as to its ‘racism’ characteristics. And yet, the Israeli system

proved itself in preventing not only potential attacks but also showed its
effectiveness in some incidents during the past 50 years.
An interesting point referring to what seems to be a dramatic change
regarding the Israeli philosophy, is the adoption in some security aspects
of more technological measures and reducing the human eye platform.
This change, identified as the Hold Baggage security (HBS) system, is
aimed at reducing the security checks at the terminal of Ben Gurion
Airport, the main international airport of Israel.20
For years, each passenger who entered an Israeli terminal, had to face
a security profiling and his luggage was screened by various screening
machines, most of them using X-ray with Computerized Tomography
(CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and other technologies.
Passengers, who were selected as a potential threat, were subject to deep
security checks, including luggage opening in front of all other passengers.
Certainly not a pleasant adventure.
The growth in passenger flow as well as constant efforts to reduce incon-
venience to passengers who wish to fly, brought new infrastructure that
conducts all the luggage security checks after the passenger has checked in
placed at Ben Gurion Airport. The luggage is checked in a separate area,
invisible to passengers. When luggage has been identified as suspicious lug-
gage, it is searched manually by well-trained personnel, hired under strict
and constant training. A suspicious passenger is subject to intrusive checks
but in a separate area, with major efforts to minimize inconvenience. And
yet, the Israeli security philosophy will continue to adopt the human eye
platform, since it showed its effectiveness over the years in various inci-
dents. After all, we need to prevent 100 percent of terrorist attempts. They
need to succeed only once, and Israel cannot suffer an aviation disaster
resulting from a successful terrorist attack.
Some of the Israeli philosophy was adopted by other airlines, taking
into account the unique characteristics of the Israeli aviation industry.
The number of airports and the size of the Israeli fleet enables the
establishment of a highly professional security infrastructure, alongside
the understanding that the average Israeli is willing to give up some of his
liberty in order to achieve security. This point of view has not penetrated
the average European citizen. In Israel national security is a reality since
the birth of every Israeli citizen, and this reality escorts any passenger
who steps into an Israeli airport or boards an Israeli airline or wishes to
visit Israel.
Offensive tactics are changing, and so are prevention measures. The
pistol and the hand grenade are replaced by the missile and, even worse,
by fundamental and lethal ideology that adopts the total destruction

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176 Air transport security

­rientation rather than hijacking-for-negotiation tactic which was the

characteristic of many terrorist attacks in the late 1960s up to the
If terrorism is an international issue, and the aviation industry is a global
business, then international cooperation is needed in order to confront
terrorist attempts.
Not all the aspects of the Israeli measures were adopted, and some of these
measures are classified, but the general philosophy of the Israeli aviation
security can be adopted. Since international cooperation also involves coun-
tries who do not maintain diplomatic relations with the state of Israel, and
some countries do not accept the Israeli profiling system, the reality is that
despite mandatory regulations conducted by the American Transportation
Security Administration (TSA), there is no homogeneity with regard to
security measures worldwide. But there is another issue: money.
Installing anti-terror measures, whether an on-board armed guards or
security means in or outside the aircraft, demands economic resources.
While the global aviation industry still licks it wounds after the tragic
attack on September 11, 2001, airlines as well as other related industries,
have suffered losses of billions of dollars. Until now, there has been no
accurate estimate as to the incremental losses of the attack, not to mention
the difficulty in gaining profit from commercial aviation: the question
that perhaps explains the answer as to unwillingness to adopt multi-level
security strategy is: ‘Who is going to pay for it?’
As to the Israeli point of view, the Israeli carrier is a national asset
(despite being privatized). As mentioned above, the Israeli aircraft means
to the state of Israel far more than just a means of transportation, and if
it serves as a national symbol, then national resources should be invested.
Aviation security in Israel is a topic that is hardly discussed, but of high
For the state of Israel, targeting an Israeli aircraft is something that it
cannot bear.
With regard to the delicate issue of on-board armed security personnel,
the latest incident was connected to El-Al flight 581 to Istanbul (November
18, 2002),when an undercover sky-marshal overpowered the Arab-Israeli
student Taufik Fukra within seconds, who, as was suspected, tried to force
himself into the cockpit, which emphasizes the effective results regarding a
well-trained security officer.
On the other hand, arming trained personnel may reduce terrorists’
efforts to hijack an aircraft with the intention of controlling the cockpit
and flying the jet into selected target, or, trying to operate a bomb during
flight as Richard Reid attempted to sabotage American Airlines flight 63
on December 22, 2001.21 However, since the issue of a worldwide stand-

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Air transport security in Israel ­177

ardization with regard to on-board armed marshals is less likely to become

mandatory, the aircraft remains a ‘soft target’ for terrorists.
Another aspect that should be discussed refers to the role of the crew
during a terrorist attack during flight. Following Leila Khaled’s attempt
to hijack the Israeli jet in 1970, Israel has been the pioneer country with
legislation regarding immunity to a flight crew in a case where they had
killed or injured an on-board terrorist. This issue should be emphasized,
since trained crew can prevent future attempts to conduct a terrorist attack
on board, by a hijacker or even by a terrorist who wishes to destroy the
aircraft in mid-air. Training personnel as well as immunity for cabin crew
will enhance the willingness of the crew, who are responsible for the safety
of the passengers, to confront any attempt to harm the passengers or the
aircraft during flight.
The threat to aviation from terrorists is not limited only to the Israeli
carriers. Recent threats clearly show that ultra-fundamental terrorists
are focusing on American and European infrastructures, including the
aviation industry. Adopting multi-level security strategy is needed. The
world aviation industry cannot suffer another catastrophe as occurred on
September 2001, while the world still faces the economic consequences of
the worst ever attack against the aviation industry. As to the terrorists, the
last word has not been said yet.
The Israeli philosophy of aviation security cannot be completed without
giving attention to the sociological perspective: The average Israeli will
in most cases prefer to allow security measures to be taken, even though
it causes inconvenience. Arriving at an airport at least three hours prior
to take-off, being monitored and, in some cases, being body searched,
alongside with strict security procedures, is something that escorts every
Israeli since he was born, whenever he is in Israel or abroad. Being an air
steward for the Israeli airline, we were subject to a series of behavior codes
while staying abroad. For us, it is a way of life, a daily standard of being
an Israeli. Would the average American or European passenger accept this
daily life?
The adoption of the Israeli aviation security philosophy may contribute
not only to the security field, but also to the understanding that in some
cases, life comes before the quality of life. If one accepts this assumption,
security measures would become more understandable worldwide.


  1. The first officer, trainee Avner Slapak, was interviewed by the author, during his Ph.D.
research, as to the circumstances of this incident.

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178 Air transport security

 2. Evolution and escalation of aviation terrorism: From bargaining chip fashion to total
destruction orientation, Ph.D. thesis (2006), Anglia Ruskin University, UK.
  3. Refers to the ‘Nezar Hindawi case’ of April 17, 1986 (Avihai, 2006).
  4. Gearty, 1991, p. 10.
  5. This incident refers to the PFLP attempt to hijack three aircraft (TWA, SwissAir and
El-Al). As to the Israeli jet, the two hijackers, Patrick Arguello and Leila Khaled, tried
to hijack the Boeing 707 bound for New York from Tel Aviv via Amsterdam. The
presence of an Israeli armed security personnel on board the aircraft, alongside the
courageous maneuvering of the captain, Uri Bar-Lev, prevented this attempt to hijack
the plane. Finally, no less than four aircraft were hijacked including a Pan Am jumbo
jet and a British VC-10 jet (BOAC) and later exploded on the ground (three airplanes
were exploded at an abandon airfield in Zarka, Jordan, while the Pan Am jumbo jet
was exploded at Cairo airport, Egypt, in all these cases, without the passengers being
harmed, who were released in exchange for jailed terrorists in Switzerland and Leila
Khaled in Britain (Avihai, 2006).
  6. This sabotage attempt was conducted by Ahmed Jibril, founder of the Popular Front
for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command – PFLP-GC. Jibril’s expertise was
sabotaging aircraft using a barometric trigger. Another interesting point was the fact
that probably Jibril’s ‘finger prints’ were related to the sabotage of the explosion of Pan
Am flight on December 1988 over Lockerbie, with regard to a Libyan-Iranian plot to
target American airlines (Avihai, 2006).
  7. This incident is considered as the ‘top incident’ with regard to the establishment of
the Israeli security philosophy which considers the ‘human eye detection’, which will
be introduced broadly in this chapter. The security officer who discovered the hidden
Semtex bomb was interviewed by the author, during his Ph.D. research. This incident is
also well known to Israeli security and decision making, due to what was related to the
Israeli Prime Minister, Yizhak Shamir. who saw this incident, if successfully conducted,
as a ‘Casus Belly’ against Syria, after presenting hard evidence that the Syrian leadership
was involved in this incident (Avihai, 2006).
  8. Man Portable Air Defense System.
  9. The El-Al captain jet was Uri Bar-Lev, who was captain of the El-Al flight 219 jet that
was planned to be hijacked on September 6, 1970 (Avihai, 2006).
10. This incident marked the beginning of the development of an airborne counter missiles
system, first named ‘Flight guard’ and the latest system named ‘Magen Rakia’ [Sky Shield],
which has already been installed on an Israeli aircraft on specific routes (Avihai, 2006).
11. The Sabena incident is considered to be the first ever successful commando assault on a
hijacked aircraft (Avihai, 2006).
12. For further discussion as to the synergy of technological and personnel detection
platform, see Avihai, 2007.
13. Israel was not the pioneer in assigning armed personnel on board, but so far, generally
speaking, Israel is the only state where this practice is an integral element of an interna-
tional commercial flight (Avihai, 2006).
14. During the author’s flights abroad, he always watches the cockpit door, counting the
times that the door is opened during flight, and monitoring the cabin crew’s operation
with regard to securing the cockpit while the door is opened. Some additional measures
were taken especially after the 9/11 attack, and yet, the measures taken are not compa-
rable to the measures taken on board an Israeli flight.
15. The record player bomb was given to two unwitting English female passenger accom-
plices (Avihai, 2006).
16. Captain (Ret.) Uri Bar-Lev was interviewed by the author on March 9, 2005.
17. Further discussion will focus on the counter-missile systems, installed on board the
Israeli jets.
18. The 9/11 attack was the first successful attempt, but it is important to emphasize that
previous attempts were foiled, such as the ‘Bojinka Plot’ of December 11, 1994 or the
Air France hijacking at Algeria on December 24, 1994.

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19. The author flew in a domestic flight with an Airbus jet operated by ‘Israair’ airline, and
saw the Sky Shield system. This is a small system whose main advantage, besides its
capability to confront advanced shoulder missiles, also has the possibility to be taken
off and placed in another airplane within one hour. This function allows it to be trans-
ported easily with no need to equip each aircraft with the system, but only on high-risk
flights or on specific routes.
21. Richard C. Reid (28) also named Abdul Raheem, a member of Al-Qaeda, boarded the
jet with 10 ounces of plastic explosives (TATP – Triacetone Triperoxide) hidden in his
shoes. Reid had attempted to board the same flight the previous day, December 21, the
13th anniversary date of the Pan Am bombing (December 21, 1988), but he was delayed
by suspicious French authorities. There is evidence that on December 11 the FAA had
issued a warning to airlines that someone might attempt to board an aircraft with a
weapon in a shoe. In addition, there is evidence that the original plan was to blow up
two US jets in mid-air simultaneously. The other terrorist, Saajid Mouhammed Badat
(25), decided to withdraw from the plot. He was convicted in a British court on April 23,
2005 and sentenced to thirteen years for his role in assisting Reid after admitting that he
planned to bring the bomb on board (Avihai, 2006).


Avihai, H. (2006). Evolution and Escalation of Aviation Terrorism: From Bargaining

Chip Fashion to Total Destruction Orientation, Ph.D. thesis, Anglia Ruskin
University, UK.
Avihai, H. (2007). ‘Aviation Security: The Human Eye vs. Detection Technology’
Gearty, C. (1991). Terror, London: Faber and Faber.

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11.  Air transport security in Kenya
Evaristus Irandu


Air transport is one of the most important drivers of the world economy.
However, in recent years, it has become an easy target for terrorist attacks.
Hence, a safe and secure aviation system is a critical component of a
country’s overall economic development (Atanasov and Chenane, 2013;
Elzawi and Eaton, 2016). The importance of the aviation industry in
the economic development of Kenya and the rest of Africa cannot be
gainsaid. At present, aviation remains the safest, fastest and most reliable
form of transport in the world. Air transport is an important facilitator of
economic activity and trade. As such, airports are not just communication
hubs but are the core of both regional and international trade. The slow
aviation infrastructure development pace in Africa, therefore, has implica-
tions not just for the aviation industry but also for African development in
general. Understanding the role security plays in assuring passenger and
operator confidence has convinced many that adequate security is crucial
to the aviation sector’s ability to deliver and to sustain a sound aviation
industry and vibrant economies.
As Wells and Young (2004) observe, the most significant issue faced by the
airport in the 21st century is airport security. Airport security concerns all
areas and all users of the airport, not limited to travelers, airport police force
and so on. To guarantee airport security, different procedures are designed
to detect, prevent and respond to chemical acts. Airport security includes
an array of techniques and methods used in protecting airports and aircraft
from crime. Large numbers of people pass through airports. Such gatherings
present a target for terrorism and other forms of crime. Similarly, the high
concentration of people on large airliners, the potential high mortality rate
of attacks on aircraft, and the ability to use a hijacked airplane as a lethal
weapon provide an alluring target for terrorism (Wells and Young, 2004).
This chapter begins by discussing recent trends in air transport in
Kenya. The expansion of aviation industry as witnessed by growth of
airports and increase in volume of passenger and cargo traffic is examined.


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The chapter then critically examines air transport security in Kenya. This
is achieved by, firstly, discussing the air transport security situation in the
country and, secondly, by examining the main challenges faced in address-
ing aviation security. It then proceeds to discuss possible solution options
to address air transport security issues in the country such as adoption of
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, establishing
Aviation Security (AVSEC) mechanisms and cooperation with other
African states. The chapter concludes by suggesting policy issues that
need to be considered urgently in the country to ensure that the aviation
industry is secure in the future.


Being a major mode of long distance transport within and between nations,
air transport is a crucial facilitator of economic development for any coun-
try. Air transport has become increasingly important to the economy of
Kenya. At present, it is the second most important transport service in the
country in terms of its share in the total value of output from the transport
sector (Government of Kenya, 2009; Gitau, 2011). The aviation sector in
the country has recorded significant growth in the recent past, both in
passenger and cargo transport. The aviation industry in Kenya is highly
competitive and heavily dominated by foreign investors. It consists of the
national airline (Kenya Airways), over 15 foreign commercial airlines with
regional offices in the country, 27 other foreign airlines which operate in
the country but without regional offices, and 13 other local private airlines.
The leading international airlines, including British Airways, Air France,
KLM, Swissair, Alitalia and South African Airways, fly in and out of
Kenya. Some of the firms offering charter services in Kenya are owned by
locals, often in partnership with foreign investors (Gitau, 2011).
Kenya has more than 200 airports and airfields, 15 of which have paved
runways, including four with runways longer than 3,000 meters. About 35
airfields can be considered commercial. Four airports handle international
flights: Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Mombasa’s
Moi International Airport (MIA), Eldoret International Airport and
Wajir International Airport (KAA, 2010). Other facilities include Wilson
Airport in Nairobi; airports at Malindi, Kakuma and Kisumu; and numer-
ous airstrips throughout the country. The Northern Corridor Transport
Improvement (NCTI) project approved in mid-2004 included US$41
million for aviation. The funds were earmarked to enhance facilities and
safety at JKIA and MIA, including perimeter fencing, new navigation,
security and baggage-handling equipment (European Union, 2009).

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182 Air transport security

The total passenger traffic in the country exceeded 3 million people in

2002, a 30 percent increase from three years earlier. Cargo handling, in turn,
reached 169,000 tons in 2002, a 45 percent increase from three years earlier.
This could partly be explained by a steep rise in shipments of horticulture
products to Europe, which would not have been possible without frequent
direct air links. By 2010 passenger traffic reached 7.2 million. This was com-
posed of 2.3 million domestic passengers and 3.7 million international pas-
sengers and 1.2 million transiting passengers. Passenger numbers increased
to 8.5 million in 2012 while freight handled declined from 305,986 tons
in 2011 to 296,395 tons in 2012 (KCAA, 2012; Okwach, 2012). The rapid
growth of passenger traffic handled by the country’s major airports poses a
big security challenge which cannot be overlooked by state security agents.
JKIA in Nairobi is East-Africa’s major airport and an important
regional hub (Irandu and Rhoades, 2006; Okwach, 2012). JKIA is the
sixth busiest airport in Africa, and currently serves 32 destinations in the
African continent (ASN, 2010). More than a dozen large European and
Asian airlines also operate direct flights to Nairobi (United Nations, 2005;
KCAA, 2012). However, the current airport was originally designed for
an annual capacity of 2.5 million passengers and presently handles almost
double that volume. The runway extension that is on-going at JKIA is
expected to raise capacity from 2.5 to 9.3 million annual passengers and
providing improved security in order to comply with International Civil
Aviation Authority standards (European Union, 2009; Government of
Kenya, 2009). A key objective of the airport upgrade is to achieve approval
of ‘category one’ status from the US Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) to allow for direct flights between JKIA and US airports. Direct
flights would boost tourism and trade and secure JKIA’s status as a
regional hub. Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) operates all airports and
runways in Kenya and authorizes airlines to use airport facilities and
compiles traffic data (KAA, 2010).


Airport Security

In the earliest days of air travel, there were no threats to the sector. People
moved around the airport or boarded their flight(s) without feeling threat-
ened and, hence, aviation security was only a minor concern. However,
with the increasing number of aviation attacks globally, the concept of
aviation security is now high on the list of priorities, especially after the
September 11 attacks (KCAA, 2012).

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Air transport security in Kenya ­183

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the US demonstrated that

the consequences of inadequate security can be more severe and tragic
than previously imagined (KCAA, 2012). Since the attack, the industry
has initiated a number of efforts designed to strengthen the security of all
aspects of commercial civil aviation. Following the attacks, air travelers
around the world experienced many changes in airport security proced­
ures. For example, airlines asked passengers to arrive at airports as much
as two hours before takeoff for domestic flights. When in December 2001
a passenger attempted to light a bomb in his shoe while in flight, security
screeners all over the world now ask passengers to remove their shoes when
passing through airport checkpoints. In all airports in Kenya, passengers
on domestic flights are asked to arrive at least two hours before departure
for security check. Passengers are also asked to remove their shoes whether
on domestic or international flights.
All airport areas are restricted. KAA issues temporary security passes
to the public who may wish to access the airport restricted areas issued at
the discretion of the Managing Director, General Manager (Security) or
the Airport Manager. The public should give valid reasons to be allowed
access to the restricted areas. The passes are issued upon depositing per-
sonal national identification cards (IDs) or valid passports in the security
office at the airport. All airport staff are required to go through security
checks when reporting on duty or accessing restricted area of the airport.
The staff access and exit restricted areas through the staff gates only.
Before entering the restricted area, staff are all required to put any items
they may be carrying into the X-Ray machine and then walk through a
metal detector/archway detector.
To ensure security of air travelers into and out of Kenya, the Civil
Aviation Act (2013) was passed by Parliament. According to the Act, the
following acts of unlawful interference are prohibited:

1. Seizure of aircraft in flight or on the ground;

2. Hostage-taking on board aircraft or at airports;
3. Forcible intrusion on board an aircraft, at an airport or on the prem-
ises of an aeronautical facility;
4. Introduction on board aircraft or at an airport of a weapon or hazard-
ous device or material intended for criminal purposes;
5. Destroying or causing damage to air navigation facilities, or interfer-
ing with their operations; and
6. Use of an aircraft in service for the purpose of causing death, serious
bodily injury, or threats of bodily harm to passengers, crew and other
persons not on the aircraft but whose safety are of interest to passen-
gers or crew on the aircraft.

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184 Air transport security

Security in Kenyan airports like in other African countries is usually

the responsibility of the national government. KAA, a state corporation,
runs airports, provides for control towers, runways and perimeter fencing.
Airport safety is the domain of both civil aviation and airport authorities
through air traffic controllers, navigators, aviation safety officials and
other law enforcement agencies. Protection at airports primarily includes:

1. Branch of the local police department stationed at the airport (airport

2. Members of the local police department, usually paramilitary (General
Service Unit) assigned to the airport as their normal patrol area includ-
ing securing of the perimeter fence and guarding vital installations;
3. Members of the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF).

Kenya is responsible for ensuring the implementation of adequate security

measures at airports pursuant to the provisions of ICAO Annex 7 to
the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The terrorist threat on
aviation led ICAO to establish a plan of action for strengthening aviation
security. This included a program of regular, mandatory, systematic and
harmonized audits to evaluate aviation security in all member states and
to help identify and correct deficiencies in the implementation of security
related Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). ICAO launched
its Universal Security Audit Program (USAP) in November 2002. Kenya
was first audited in June 2004 and again in June 2008. Kenya Civil Aviation
Authority (KCAA) continues to implement the Corrective Action Plan
developed after the audit in order to address deficiencies identified in
ICAO audits.
The ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP) follow
up audit of Kenya conducted in 2013 revealed that the implementation
of the Critical Elements (CE) pertaining to establishment of a regulatory
system had improved significantly since the comprehensive audit of Kenya
in 2008. However, the effective implementation of CEs relating to safety
surveillance actions and resolution of safety concerns remained low, 61
percent and 51 percent respectively. Among others, Kenya had not estab-
lished a mechanism to ensure the availability of sufficient aviation safety
oversight personnel, and the Safety Management System of the aerodrome
operator was not fully implemented.

Air Cargo Security

Transport of goods by air has become an essential component of today’s

world economy, especially in the high value, ‘just-in-time’ supply chain that

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Air transport security in Kenya ­185

serves many other industries. Airlines are financially dependent on cargo

transport, which carries, on average, higher profit margins than passenger
traffic, accounting approximately for 15 percent of total traffic revenue.
Air carriers transport billions of tons of cargo each year and the volume of
air cargo is expected to steadily increase, at a faster pace than the number
of passengers, thus adding to the growing importance of cargo (Buzdugan,
In this connection, vulnerabilities in air cargo security place at risk the
entire air transport system and could have devastating consequences for
the international economy due to loss of life and property, interruption of
trade and costs of diverting traffic. Besides, in the wake of September 11,
2001, the fact that enhanced security measures have focused almost exclu-
sively on passenger air travel has left the air cargo system more vulnerable
and a likely target for terrorists. While 100 percent of baggage is required
to be screened, only a relatively small amount of cargo transported by air
is currently subject to screening and inspection.
Currently, there are two main views regarding air cargo security. One is
that full screening of air cargo would be too costly and too disruptive to
allow for successful implementation. The other claims that full screening
and enhanced security measures are needed to minimize as much as pos-
sible the risks associated with air cargo. At the present time, it is generally
accepted that any type of physical inspection or electronic screening
of all cargo would not be technically and logistically feasible without
adversely impacting air cargo operations. It is argued that if full physical
cargo screening is implemented at airports, only a very small percentage
of cargo volume at airports could be processed (Buzdugan, 2015). Thus,
most experts agree that a practical approach would involve the use of
risk-managed cargo profiling procedures to identify shipments that may
be considered of high risk and the application of physical inspection on
selected shipments.
Given the growing terrorist threat to civil aviation worldwide, Kenya
needs to pay attention to air cargo security through investment in cargo
screening equipment and necessary compliance with ICAO cargo security
requirements in order to safeguard export of her products. ICAO adopts
SARPs, which are contained in Annex 17. SARPs aim at preventing explo-
sives and incendiary devices from being placed onboard aircraft, either
through concealment in otherwise legitimate shipments or through gaining
access to aircraft via cargo handling areas.
Before 1992, air cargo security was industry driven mainly by airlines
and their agents. That is, security measures were driven by aircraft/airport
operators and conducted at the airport. However, screening at last point
(airport) before departure presents the following challenges:

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186 Air transport security

1. Cargo is already palletized and difficult to screen;

2. Limited choice of screening equipment/methods for varied nature and
size of cargo;
3. Large consignments difficult to screen by conventional X-ray most
common at airports;
4. Large and increasing volumes of cargo and timelines to beat.

In September 1992 ICAO introduced security controls for cargo, courier

and express parcels and mail in Annex 17 Amendment 8 (5th edition).
In November 2005 ICAO introduced security for all-cargo operations
in Annex 17 Amendment 11 (8th edition) and also required states to
establish a process for approval of Regulated Agents. Currently, Annex
17 Amendment 14 (12th edition) applicable from November 14, 2014 and
containing SARPS on AVSEC is in force (Nakasangah, 2015). Following
the various threats on airfreight cargo planes in different parts of the world
(Table 11.1), ICAO amended Annex 17 and the Aviation Security Manual
to address the emerging challenge of ‘High-Risk Cargo’.

Kenyan air cargo regime

ICAO USAP audits of 2006 and 2008 on Kenya exposed the need to
comply with Annex 17 SARPS on cargo security. Standard 4.6.3 of Annex
17 (8th edition) required states to establish a process for approval of
Regulated Agents. In October 2009, Kenya developed the Regulated Agent
(RA) Concept. Today, about 19 RAs are registered. Known Consignors
(KCs) validated by RAs under KCAA Instructions. RAs must provide list
of KCs to KCAA, Post-certification inspections conducted on scheduled
or ad-hoc basis. Airlines deal only with KCAA RAs. List of Certified RAs
regularly updated and provided to stakeholders. KCAA developed Model
RASP to guide RAs. RAs required developing RASPs and submitting
other valid documents.

Roles of stakeholders in air cargo security

All Air Cargo Supply Chain players in Kenya have roles to ensure that
safety and security standards are established and maintained. The major
stakeholders and their roles are summarized in Table 11.2. KCAA is
responsible for the regulation and oversight of aviation security in Kenya.
KCAA coordinates with stakeholders on issues of air cargo security and
facilitation through:

1. National Civil Aviation Security Committee (NCASC);

2. National Air Transport Facilitation Committee;
3. Airport Security Committees (ASCs).

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Table 11.1  Chronology of terrorist threats or incidents on air cargo planes

Terrorist threats or incidents Consequences

September 9, 1980
IED explodes in cargo hold of United 2 persons killed.
Airlines (B727) being unloaded.
June 23, 1985
Bomb placed in hold baggage 2 cargo handlers killed and 4 others
explodes  after being unloaded from a wounded.
Canadian Pacific Air flight at Narita
October 29, 2010
Air freight shipment seized at Quantity of explosives used made
Nottingham East Midlands Airport devices potentially dangerous for the
(UK) and at Dubai International aircraft involved.
Airport in the UAE. Besides, had the IEDs been detonated
Seized parcels contained over populated areas, they could have
sophisticated IEDs concealed in caused a lot of damage and heavy
ink cartridges inside computer casualties on the ground. Fortunately,
laser printers and were difficult to the attempt was thwarted.
detect by conventional cargo screening
Target was a US registered aircraft
on which the devices were to be

Note:  IED = Improvised Explosive Device.

Source:  Modified from Nakasangah, 2015, pp. 12–14.

Air Transport Security Challenges

The main challenges of air transport security in Kenya as elsewhere in

Africa include location of airports, access control and airport perimeter
fencing, security screening equipment and procedures, technology and
training of security personnel. These challenges are discussed briefly below.

Location of airports
The location of most airports in Africa renders them particularly vulner-
able to missile attacks. Most approaches to runways in Africa are located
in bushy areas or residential areas with a high density of population that
is difficult to police and susceptible to acts of unlawful interference. This

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Table 11.2  Roles of stakeholders in air cargo security

Stakeholder Roles
Regulators Implement Annex 9 and 17 Standards in National Aviation
  regulatory framework
Develop and ensure implementation of NCASP and/or
  National Air Cargo Security Programs
Develop Regulations and provide oversight
Approve Security Programmes for RAs, A/c Operators and
Provide guidelines to stakeholders
Conduct validation at origin and transfer points
Balance between security and facilitation
Certification, continuous monitoring and enforcement on
  supply chain entities
Maintenance of a database on RAs and KCs as applicable
KCs/Shippers Originator/sender of cargo/goods
Develop and implement SOPs in line with the NCASP
Secure premises and security culture
Apply security controls during handling, packaging,
  storage of cargo for air transport
Secure loading and transport (if applicable)
Hauliers To read, sign and implement Haulier Security Protocols
  developed by the Regulator
Validation and monitoring may be conducted by RAs or
  KCs under Regulator’s direction
Security awareness training
RAs Develop and implement RASPs and SOPs in line with the
  NCASP and/or national regulations
Apply security controls and account for security status of
Background checks and training of staff
Creating and maintaining an audit trail
Could be Freight Forwarders, Airlines, GHAs
Secure premises, handling facilities, transport system
Installation of ICT (EDI) infrastructure to support cargo
  data exchange
Designation of KCs (if delegated by the Regulator)
Transport logistics
Airport operator Develop and implement cargo security standards in ASPs
Provide the requisite infrastructure for cargo handling and
  ● Security to airside, access points, ramp security
  ● Background checks and training of staff
  ● Not to forget infrastructure for transfer cargo

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Table 11.2  (continued)

Stakeholder Roles
Airlines De-facto RAs
Develop and implement cargo standards in AOSPs
Ensure secure cargo process flow
Background checks and training of staff
Installation of ICT Infrastructure to support cargo data
Security of cargo during transfer
Security of cargo on the ramp, during loading and
Air transportation for cargo on Pax A/c or All-Cargo A/c
Designation of KCs (if delegated by the Regulator)

Note:  AOSPs = Aircraft Operator Security Programs; ASPS = Aircraft Security Programs;
EDI = Electronic Data Interchange; ICT = Information, Communications and Technology;
GHAs = Ground Handling Agents; KC = Known consignor; NCASP = National Civil
Aviation Security Program; RA = Regulated Agent; RASPs = Regulated Agent Security
Programs; SOPs = Standard Operating Procedures.

Source:  Nakasangah, 2015, pp. 34–45.

poses challenges to security managers especially in the case of terrorists

using shoulder launched missiles such as the Stinger and SAM7 missiles
that can be easily transported around and even dumped by their users after
use. Incidents of this nature could occur at the most critical stages of flight
such as just before landing or takeoff when the aircraft is flying low and at
lower speeds. For example, in November 2002, an Israeli airliner carrying
hundreds of tourists flying back to Israel was shot at MIA, Mombasa,
by surface to air missiles causing damage to the aircraft, in a twin terror
attack on Israeli interests in Kenya. The Israelis escaped the attack probably
because the missile used was an old one, estimated to be about 30 years old.

Access control and airport perimeter fencing

Airport perimeter fencing is the first step in securing the airport and vital
installations from unauthorized access, fencing also prevents encroach-
ment of airport land such as landing funnels thus enhancing not only
safety of aircrafts but also reducing the susceptibility of unlawful interfer-
ences. Airport perimeter fencing should be reinforced with electronic
surveillance equipment that should go hand-in-hand with regular security
patrols; airport authorities should take full control of airport land, this
includes the acquisition of necessary documentation for the land to
avoid irregular subdivisions. Governments should take a keen interest in

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190 Air transport security

the land use development pattern of land adjacent to airports to ensure

conformity with requirements that enhance aviation safety and security.
Perimeter fencing has been constructed around JKIA in Nairobi fairly
recently. Before then, the international airport was very much exposed and
could have been easily accessed from anywhere by unauthorized persons as
policing it was difficult.

Security screening equipment and procedures

Use of hi-tech security equipment is necessary for activities such as
explosive detection systems, explosive trace detectors, computer-assisted
passenger screening systems, and so on. Screening procedures and meth-
ods must contain, at a minimum, requirements for the control of screened
passengers in departure areas, security restricted areas, waiting areas,
passenger gangways, apron movement vehicles, movement areas, aircraft
stands and aircraft. The standards must also include measures to ensure
that if screened passengers and/or their cabin baggage come in contact
with unscreened persons or articles that they are re-screened in accordance
with approved methods. The state should also consider providing guidance
concerning any requirement to sweep the sterile area, as appropriate. The
challenge posed here is treatment of VIPs especially senior government
officials including ministers who decline to go through the screening
procedures. Such acts are not uncommon at most African airports includ-
ing JKIA. Apart from setting wrong precedence such acts also negate the
purpose of the screening exercise. Occasionally, some of the equipment
fails to operate thereby compromising security of the whole airport.

Instead of imposing burdens on passengers who are required to report
many hours before their flight for security screening, Kenyan airports
could adopt a better approach of making use of improved technology,
such as the following:

1. More-sophisticated luggage-screening devices, used on every single

2. New people scanners that can detect even ceramic knives under
people’s clothes;
3. Biometric systems for access control to secure areas at airports, to ensure
that only those individuals authorized to go there can actually do so.

Training of security personnel

Training is a vital part of air transport’s fight against acts of unlawful
interference and terrorism, yet here too, the government, airport authority

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administration and airline managements fail to ensure their employees

are adequately prepared for the role. This issue remains a major problem
in Kenya and throughout Africa. This can largely be attributed to lack of
national training programs for partners involved in aviation security.

Improving border and control measures

Airports are among frontier pathways into a country. Therefore, lack of
security at the airports leaves the country vulnerable to illegal immigrants,
drug, and other smugglers, criminal gangs and worse, terrorists. Security
has become a primary concern for nations especially after the September
11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Aviation security has become a topic of
increased interest. Worldwide, funding requests and enforcement proposals
were reconsidered as lawmakers began reassessing how national borders
must be monitored and protected. Africa is one region in serious need
of reorganization plans to increase frontier security effectiveness. These
include but are not limited to:

1. Introduction of additional control measures over immigrants, asylum

seekers and foreigners;
2. Provision of tamper proof passports;
3. Stringent rules in the issuance of visas and work permits;
4. Fortification of ports of entry including the erection of concrete
5. Integration of immigration, security, intelligence and customs services
in detection of unlawful activities at ports of entry; and
6. The interlinking of frontier posts for easy management of information
on matters of aviation security and monitoring of immigrants.


In order to enhance air transport security in Kenya, there is need for the
country to implement ICAO standards and to cooperate with other East
African Community (EAC) members and also implement the AVSEC

ICAO Standards

As World War II progressed, 54 states met in Chicago in the US on

December 7, 1944. These states formulated and signed the Convention on
International Civil Aviation commonly known as the Chicago Convention.
This Convention has since enabled the global civil aviation system to develop

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safely and systematically by setting global civil aviation regulatory policies

and guidelines. The Convention led to the establishment of the ICAO, a
United Nations (UN) specialized agency with about 191 contracting states.
The central aim of ICAO, as a specialized agency of the UN, is outlined
in the preamble to the Chicago Convention, namely: ‘the future develop-
ment of international civil aviation can greatly help to create and preserve
friendship and understanding among nations and peoples of the world,
yet its abuse can become a threat to general security’ (Buzdugan, 2015: 15).
According to Buzdugan (2015: 15) under the Convention, a major object­
ive of ICAO is to ‘ensure the safe and orderly growth of international civil
aviation throughout the world’ and to ‘meet the needs of the peoples of
the world for safe . . . air transport’. Accordingly, a core responsibility
of ICAO is the international regulating of a variety of technical aspects
of international civil aviation, particularly providing support for the total
safety and security of all air travel in the civil domain.
Since its establishment, ICAO has implemented a number of
International SARPS, standardizing safety, security, and navigation in air
transport. According to Giemulla and Weber (2011: 14), the ICAO stand-
ards are obligatory, unless a signatory formally indicates their inability to
implement them, and all are encouraged to act in accordance with these
practices for their overall advantage for the optimal functioning of an
international system of standards in civil aviation.
In 1974 ICAO adopted Annexure 17 to the Chicago Convention.
Annexure 17 (usually shortened to Annex 17) made it obligatory for signa-
tory states to set up a government agency to regulate a ‘national civil avi­
ation security program, with the aim to prevent the presence of weapons,
explosives, or other dangerous devices aboard aircraft’. Annex 17 requires,
among other things the checking, and screening of aircraft, passengers,
baggage, cargo and mail (Aberyatne, 2010).
According to Annex 17, every member state of ICAO must provide
for the protection of passengers and crew in their own jurisdictions up
until such aircraft flies out of the county’s airspace. Furthermore, a
member state must detain any unlawfully seized aircraft that has landed
in its territory, unless its departure must be permitted by the obligation to
protect human life. There is also an obligation that a member state should
inform with immediate effect ICAO and the country where such aircraft is
registered that it has been illegally seized. Any state whose citizens are also
on board and may have been injured or killed or held hostage, must also be
informed accordingly (Milde, 2008).
In addition, Annex 17 recommends that member states implement all
precautionary procedures for aircraft, airports, passengers, baggage, cargo
and mail and requirements for security personnel and responsive processes

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to acts of unlawful interference. It also requires that each member state has
as its primary objective the safety of passengers, crew, ground personnel
and the general public in all matters related to safeguarding against acts of
unlawful interference with civil aviation (Milde, 2008). Annex 17 further
imposes on all member states the development of a National Civil Aviation
Security Program and the creation of a governmental organization commit-
ted to aviation security, such agency to develop and implement appropriate
regulations. In addition, member states must develop ‘a security-training
platform, share aviation threat information, and otherwise cooperate with
other [ICAO Member] states on their national security programmes’.
International aviation security cooperation is strongly advocated by
ICAO and unanimously supported by its member states due to the
cross-boundary nature of aviation security threats. International aviation
measures are stipulated in the ICAO SARPs relating to the prevention or
deterrence of unlawful acts of interference against civil aviation, particu-
larly Annex 17, for security. These call upon all states to use clearly estab-
lished criteria for risk assessments extended beyond international flights to
include intra-state flights. The objective is the establishment of a National
Civil Aviation Security Program (NCASP) or other appropriate document
by each contracting state that appropriately defined the responsibility for
evaluation and implementation of civil aviation security.
Annex 17 to the Chicago Convention identifies acts of unlawful inter-
ference: or attempted acts likely to jeopardize the safety of civil aviation
and air transport, such as unlawful seizure of aircraft in flight, unlawful
seizure of aircraft on the ground, hostage-taking on board aircraft or at
aerodromes, forcible intrusion on board an aircraft, at an airport or on
the premises of an aeronautical facility, introduction on board an aircraft
or at an airport of a weapon or hazardous device or material intended
for criminal purposes, and communication of false information such as
to jeopardize the safety of an aircraft in flight or on the ground, of pas-
sengers, crew, ground personnel or the general public, at an airport or on
the premises of a civil aviation facility.
Kenya is a signatory to the Chicago Convention, and in accordance with
Article 37 of the Convention, she is obligated to comply with the ICAO
SARPs. The Kenya Civil Aviation (Amendment) Act was enacted on
October 24, 2002 and became effective on the same day. The Act amended
the Civil Aviation Act Cap.394 of the Laws of Kenya and established the
KCAA as an autonomous corporate body that took over the functions of
the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DCA) and the licensing of air services
previously under Civil Aviation Board (CAB). It performs two broad key
functions; to provide air navigation services in Kenya’s Flight Information
Region (FIR) and to regulate the aviation industry in Kenya.

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194 Air transport security

The EAC Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA)

African states have co-operated with other member states for the improve-
ment of aviation security. One such cooperation is the East African
Community Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (EAC
CASSOA). EAC CASSOA was established and commenced operations on
June 1, 2007, as an autonomous self-accounting body of the EAC follow-
ing the signing of the Protocol for the Establishment of EAC CASSOA by
the three founder Partner States of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania on April
18, 2007. Rwanda and Burundi have since harmonized their civil aviation
laws in line with EAC CASSOA. The major challenge facing the EAC is to
ensure safe, secure and efficient civil aviation for travel within the Partner
States as well as to and from other parts of the globe. The establishment of
EAC CASSOA in EAC provides a common framework and mechanism for
the Partner States to fulfill their international safety and security oversight
obligations as provided by the Convention in an effective and efficient way.
The purpose of EAC CASSOA is to help Partner States meet the require-
ments of the ICAO. This involves developing consensus among the Partner
States, coordinating activities, sharing technical expertise and facilities,
and achieving effective oversight of civil aviation safety and security.

AVSEC Mechanism

The safeguarding of international civil aviation against acts of unlawful

interference has been a matter of grave concern to the UN and its special-
ized agency, ICAO, for almost half a century. Hitherto, commercial air
travel was generally safe and certainly not subject to threats from criminal
activity, hijackings and sabotage (Irandu, 2001). Thus, during the pre-
2001 era, AVSEC was established with the aim of conducting assessment
of states’ capabilities for aviation security on request and to provide
assistance through conducting training, seminars and workshops. About
140 states were party to the mechanism (World Bank, 2006). However, fol-
lowing the terrorist act of September 11, 2001, it became imperative that a
worldwide civil AVSEC mechanism be put into place. This attack led to the
Resolution of the 33rd ICAO Assembly (September–October 2001), which
among other things required that all contracting states apply Annex 17 to
domestic flights, that aircraft cockpit doors remain locked during flight,
that states upgrade provisions regarding airport security controls, and that
sates were responsible to provide aviation security for their territories. The
AVSEC program is now in force in all ICAO contracting states.
The AVSEC program consists of measures and procedures designed
to prevent acts of unlawful interference against civil aviation. It also

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includes protection of airport ground facilities and navigation aids. The

overall purpose of the AVSEC program is to enhance the capability of the
contracting state such as Kenya to minimize acts of unlawful interference
against civil aviation. According to the AVSEC program, contracting
states are required to have at their airports basic equipment such as X-ray
baggage inspection devices, walk through metal detector units, handheld
metal detectors, two-way radios and silent alarms.

Initiatives to Implement AVSEC Mechanism in Africa

Over the years, various initiatives have been made in order to enhance
avi­ation security in Africa. In each of these initiatives, Kenya has been
actively involved. These include:

1. Agadir Seminar May 2000, co-sponsored by ICAO and the African

Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), aimed at creating a unique
coordination authority for aviation security at the airport level.
2. ICAO, in cooperation with the African Union (AU) and AFCAC, held
a conference from November 5–7, 2007 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on
the development of an African aviation security Roadmap.
3. On April 13, 2010, in Abuja, Nigeria, the African Ministers in charge
of aviation security together with regional and international organiza-
tions adopted the Abuja Declaration on Civil Aviation Security in
Africa in which they affirmed their commitment to preventing unlaw-
ful interference with civil aviation in all forms, with particular atten-
tion being placed on countering terrorist threats against civil aviation.
Following the Abuja Declaration, the AFCAC AVSEC Working
Group (August 10–12, 2010) was mandated with the implementation
of the African Roadmap on Civil Aviation Security. However, the
African Roadmap encountered significant implementation challenges
and did not achieve its desired outcome.
4. At a regional conference on aviation security, which took place in
Dakar, Senegal, October 17–18, 2011, African states acknowledged
ICAO’s leadership role and agreed to intensify cooperation to enhance
aviation security.
5. The African Ministers of Transport also met in Luanda, Angola
November 21–25, 2011 to deliberate on aviation security and agreed
on the need for a Regional Aviation Security Group to coordinate the
implementation of the Abuja Declaration and Roadmap.

Despite these determined efforts to implement AVSEC mechanism in

Africa, several obstacles and impediments have been encountered in

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196 Air transport security

establishing aviation security systems and infrastructures in the continent.

These challenges differ from one country to the other. Therefore, careful
consideration of these would help to improve compliance of aviation
security and SARPs on the continent. The common obstacles that have
been identified as priority areas of focus include but are not limited to:

1. Lack of political commitment at the national level to prioritize avia-

tion security requirements;
2. Inadequate enforcement powers allocated to the designated
Appropriate Authority for security;
3. Difficulty in attracting, retaining and maintaining AVSEC expertise,
due to, inter alia, the absence of training and succession planning;
4. Lack of an aviation security and facilitation infrastructure;
5. Lack of a security culture;
6. Difficulty in justifying the resources needed to maintain a national
aviation security oversight workforce due to the low volume of air
operations; and
7. Lack of coordination, and duplication of capacity-building efforts.


In this chapter, it has been established that air transport security is a major
challenge facing each country throughout the world and Kenya is not an
exception. It has also been observed that providing adequate security for
air passengers, cargo, planes and infrastructure is a much more daunting
task for Africa than other regions. This is because of location of airports,
poor and/or inadequate screening equipment and lack of well-trained
personnel especially in the AVSEC mechanism. Despite the challenges
faced, Kenya like other countries in Africa has made strides with assistance
of ICAO to enhance security at her airports.
It should be appreciated that no one agency, airline, or government has
all the answers for improving aviation security. Therefore, the way forward
must be through broad partnerships between governments and stakehold-
ers in the aviation industry in which no country is left out. If one country
is left out then the global security chain will be weakened.
Given the real threat to aviation security worldwide, all ICAO member
states (including Kenya) should start using armed pilots on some flights,
and armed undercover officers on passenger flights. Greater effort should
also be made by aviation authorities in Kenya, Africa and the rest of the
world to sensitize air passengers on how best to prevent any terrorist
attacks on flights.

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As already discussed in this chapter, Kenya adopts the general standards

for minimum security measures provided by the ICAO. It is important that
these standards are always met when screening passengers and cargo at
airports. In doing so, the country should use state-of-the-art technology
that is using the best technology available. Of course, this has serious
cost implications, but aviation security should not be compromised for
whatever reason.


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ASN (2010). Kenya air safety profile. Aviation Safety Network. [Online]. Retrieved
from http://aviation- safety-net/database/ (10/22/2010).
Atanasov, A. and R. Chenane (2013). Security Vulnerabilities in Next Generation
Air Transportation System, Master of Science thesis in computer systems
and networks. Chalmers University of Technology, Department of Computer
Science and Engineering, Goteborg, Sweden.
Buzdugan, M. (2015). Air Cargo Security: An Overview of Several Regulatory
Initiatives around the World, McGill Institute of Air and Space Law, Montreal,
Elzawi, A. and D. Eaton (2016). Airport Security: Structural Zoning in Developing
Countries, the University of Salford, UK.
European Union (2009). Aviation Security – Priorities of the Commission,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Giemulla, E.M. and L. Weber (eds.) (2011). International and EU Aviation Law:
Selected Issues, Wolters Kluwer, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Gitau, G.M. (2011). Effect of strategic implementation on the performance of firms
in the aviation industry in Kenya, Unpublished MBA Project, UON.
Government of Kenya (2009). National disaster response plan. Office of the
President. Ministry of State for Special Programme and Ministry of State for
Provincial Administration and Internal Security.
Irandu, E.M. (2001). The Role of Air Transport in East African Regional Trade,
USAID, Nairobi, Kenya.
Irandu, E.M. and D. Rhoades (2006). ‘The Development of Jomo Kenyatta
International Airport as a Regional Aviation Hub’, Journal of Air Transportation,
Vol. 11, No. 1: 50–64.
Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) (2010). Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
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Nairobi, Kenya.
Milde, M. (2008). International air law and ICAO, Eleven International Publishing,
Amsterdam, the Netherlands, pp. 477–86.
Nakasangah, G.N. (2015). ‘Ensuring High Safety and Security Standards in Cargo
Handling’, AFRAA Cargo Days Conference, Panari Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya,
September 30.
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Master of Business Administration Degree, School of Business of the University

of Nairobi.
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12.  Air transport security in Malaysia
Priyanka Puri, Manjit Singh Sandhu and
Santha Vaithilingam


The global aviation architecture is undergoing rapid structural transforma-

tion powered by the forces of globalization, liberalization and deregulation.
The civil aviation (or specifically commercial air transport) industry is
a major economic force reporting expeditious growth. According to the
International Air Transport Association (IATA), over the last decade
revenue of the aviation sector has doubled from US$369 billion in 2004
to a projected $746 billion in 2014 (Hilz and Clayton 2015). Furthermore,
IATA announced on March 2016, that globally revenue passenger kilo-
meters (RPK)1 rose 7.1 percent compared to 6.5 percent in 2015 (IATA
Despite this growth, the aviation industry faces major challenges not
only in terms of sustaining airline profitability but also in ensuring
safety and security measures. Air safety concerns peaked at the time of
the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, causing concern and decline in
confidence among consumers. Consequently, the industry responded with
significant progress on aviation safety and security, resulting in increased
inconvenience to consumers with longer security checks at airports. From
the supply side, the airlines themselves face an increase in operating costs
with increase in security regulations. However, experts have voiced their
concerns that safety and security are critical to the airline industry and
there should not be any cutbacks on the security measures (ICAO 2015a)
The period of 2014 to 2015 saw a cluster of aviation tragedies which
brought attention to exceptional transport security issues in aviation, start-
ing with the disappearance of flight MH370 (Appendix). A total of 1,280
lives have been lost as a result of eight air travel tragedies during 2014 to
2015 (Appendix). The unparalleled aviation events during the 2014 to 2015
period became a cold reminder to the world that aviation disasters can
happen despite our advancements in technology. Subsequently, the civil
aviation industry, governments and international governing bodies have


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200 Air transport security

put air transport security at the forefront of air transportation agenda and
policy in high level conferences taking place around the world.
In terms of the eight tragedies (Appendix), five involved Asian ­carriers
– Malaysia Airlines (MAS), AirAsia (AA) and TransAsia (TA). Media
reporting in 2014 to present has mainly focused on the infamous tragedies
involving two MAS flights. The public has criticized and questioned
the safety and security of MAS (a Malaysian national carrier) and
more importantly Malaysia’s current security practices and accountability.
Malaysia’s safety and security in civil aviation came into question in early
2014 as a result of two major incidents resulting in 537 deaths involving
the national carrier.
The Malaysian national carrier, MAS, was formed in 1937, when
the Straits Steamship Company and Imperial Airways formed Malayan
Airways Limited in Malaysia (Christina 2015). The company’s first com-
mercial flight was in 1947 (Khazahnah Nasional 2014). MAS has been
operating for 79 years and flies 40,000 passengers on 330 flights each day
to 50 destinations (Bishop 2014).
In the last decade, MAS was known in the aviation community as an
excellent service provider holding more than 100 awards (Kim 2014)
from industry groups such as Skytrax UK and the World Travel Awards
for the quality of MAS cabin crew, food and general excellence (Jansen
2014). From 2014 onwards, MAS has not won any international accolades
(Jansen 2014).
In terms of air transport security, the Malaysia has had a total of six
reported aviation accidents in the last 40 years (Table 12.1). Before 2014,
MAS had one of the best safety records in the aviation industry with just
two fatal tragedies in 58 years (Jansen 2014) (Table 12.1). However, the
long held positive perception the carrier had as a competent safe air travel
service provider dramatically changed for the worst on March 8, 2014.
Any threat to safety can cause a decrease in, or total absence of tourist
activity not only in a particular hostile destination, but also very often in
neighboring regions or countries (Cavlek 2002). Tourist perceived safety is
considered a prerequisite in travel decision making (Pinhey and Iverson 1994;
Pizam et al. 1997; Roehl and Fesenmaier 1992; Sönmez et al. 1999; Sönmez
and Graefe 1998), specifically poor perceived safety has been found often
to act as a deterrent to international travel (Floyd et al. 2004; George 2003).
Despite rising passenger volume entering Malaysian airports, the eco-
nomic backlash post MH370 was estimated to sum up to a loss of RM120
million affecting travel and related industries in Malaysia as a result
of outrage and avoidance of Malaysia by Chinese tourists2 over events
surrounding flight MH370 (Kong 2014). Evidently, safety perceptions
influenced the sudden change in demand in 2014 for MAS specifically.

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Table 12.1  Malaysian aircraft accidents in the last 40 years

Date Commercial Aviation Security Incidences

1977, December 4 Malaysian Airline System Flight 653
● Flight 653, a Boeing 737-200, flying towards the
Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, was hijacked as
soon as it reached cruise altitude.
● The plane crashed in the Malaysian village of
Tanjung Kupang, with all 93 passengers and
seven crew members killed instantly. The mystery
surrounding the hijacking and crash remain unsolved.
1983, December 18 Malaysian Airline System Flight 684
● Flight 684 flying from Singapore, crashed just over
a mile short of the runway in Subang. The crash did
not cause any deaths. However, the aircraft (Airbus
A300B4) was destroyed.
● The investigation post crash revealed the probable
cause was pilot error. The pilot had neglected to
monitor descent rate properly during poor visibility
caused by heavy rain.
1995, September 15 Malaysia Airlines Flight 2133
● Flight 2133 crashed in a shantytown in Tawau, killing
34 people. The pilot misjudged the landing, touching
down too far along the runway at Tawau Airport and
lost control of the aircraft (a Fokker 50). Only 15 of
the passengers and crew on board lived to tell the tale.
2014, March 8 Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370
● Flight MH370 disappeared from radar. At time of
writing cause of disappearance and the location
of the aircraft is unknown. However, debris of a
flaperon has been found on Reunion Island.
2014, July 17 Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17
● Flight MH17 shot down by surface-to-air missile in
Ukraine. Investigations on who is responsible are still
2014, December 28 Indonesia Air Asia Flight QZ8501
● Flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java Sea as a result of
pilot error, poor alternatives for technical malfunction
and bad weather. The flight was not permitted by
authorities to fly Surabaya-Singapore route.

Source:  Livesey (2014); Abend (2015); West (2014).

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202 Air transport security

Table 12.2  MAS key performance indicators (KPIs)

Airline key performance indicators prior to delisting of December 12, 2014

2013 2014 Change1
September September
Revenue Passenger 4,212.2 3,661.7 213.1%
 Kilometers2 (mil)
Available Seat 4,933.6 4,992.0 1.2%
 Kilometers 3 (mil)
Load Factor4 (%) 85.4 73.4 212.0 pts
Number of passenger 1,547 1,353 212.5%
  carried (000)

1 The table indicates that ASK has increased by 1.2%, which means MAS utilization
of the fixed number of aircraft seats has improved from 2013 to 2014, this could be
because of lower priced tickets and reduction of flight routes offered by MAS after
the disappearance of MH370. Whereas, the other KPIs indicate that overall passenger
numbers have decreased from 2013 to 2014 based on a low RPK, load factor and
passengers carried.
2 Revenue Passenger Kilometre (RPK) measures passenger traffic. RPK = number of
paying passengers x kilometers flown.
3 Available Seat Kilometer (ASK) indicates the extent to which an airline is utilizing the
fixed number of seats in terms of number of kilometers flown. If all of the seats on
the plane are not sold, then the ASK of the airline is operating at below capacity. Long
instances of unavailable seats on an airline can cost an airline millions of dollars. ASK =
The number of seats available for sale x number of kilometers flown.
4 Load factor measures the capacity utilization = RPK/ASK.

Source:  Adapted from CAPA (2014).

Before the MAS tragedies, airline safety was not on the top of the minds
of most passengers because safety is taken for granted by consumers
(Iyengar 2015). Post MH370 and MH17, safety of MAS will act as a factor
which will influence traveler’s purchase intentions (Iyengar 2015). In fact,
on September 2014, MAS reported a drop in revenue per passenger, load
factor and number passengers carried around 12–13 percent in compari-
son to 2013 (Table 12.2) (CAPA 2014).3
When a customer avoids a company, this has severe consequences for a
company’s bottom line. According to industry reports, this has been the
case for MAS. In the first 10 days after the MH370 tragedy, the company
saw a huge commercial impact with 10 straight days of an average of
100,000 cancellations a day (Manjur 2015). Today’s security perception of
Malaysian civil aviation has changed as a result of unprecedented compli-
cations involving MAS flight MH370 and flight MH17 in 2014.

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Air transport security in Malaysia ­203

Aviation professionals believe that the public awareness of air travel risk
and airline safety increased, as a result of the hyperbolic media reporting
after the disappearance of MH370 (Beardmore 2015). Indirect exposure to
the air travel tragedies was largely through media and this includes both:
(1) media coverage of the actual tragedies of 2014 and 2015; and (2) the
subsequent weeks of coverage that reviewed a particular air travel tragedy
in greater detail divulging the consequences regarding injured and dead
passengers, which often entailed images of destroyed aircrafts.
Statistically, consumers are aware that there is little chance that the same
situation will ever happen again, however logical information steps aside
for more emotional information when our body is giving us information on
whether there is danger or not (Aeronewstv 2014). Hence, all people need
to see are pictures of planes crashing of one company or more and these
images will have a forceful impact on the mind (Aeronewstv 2014). Thus,
a single event or a series of tragedies involving an airliner can increase risk
perception, safety concerns and erode the favorable image of a brand and
ultimately impact future revenue and profitability. Humans are far more
sensitive to risk that is catastrophic, which kills people all at once in one
place (e.g. plane crash) than individuals are about risks which is chronic,
where the victims are spread out over space and/or time (e.g. smoking)
(Grose 1995).
Conversely, based on statistics, flying by air is less risky than other
transportation modes. For instance, riding a motorcycle is more than 3,000
times more likely to cause harm than flying (Bennett 2015). In addition, it
should be noted that there is a global downward trend of number of airline
fatalities since 1946 (Figure 12.1) whereas there is an upward trend in the
number of flights taking off (Figure 12.2). Such statistics absolutely put air
travel risk into perspective. Based on the aforementioned metrics, there is
no question that flying is a less risky way to travel than other transporta-
tion modes.
Nonetheless, research shows that risk perception is not a matter of
numeric facts (Reichel et al. 2009; Grose 1995). When a well-publicized
crisis occurs, consumers are made aware of the possible harm and physical
threat to their wellbeing (Grose 1995).
According to Bennett (2015) and Beardmore (2015), the 2014 MAS
disasters have twisted the perception of airline safety and air travel risk. As
events continue to spiral on and relations between Malaysian air transport
service providers and customers become strained, it raises the question
of what impact MH370’s disappearance and MH17 missile shooting in a
conflict zone have on the air transport industry’s security. Perhaps the most
pressing question is: What are the air transport industry and governing
bodies doing in terms of air transport security in Malaysia?

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Source:  Tolan et al. (2014).



Figure 12.1  Commercial aviation deaths per year, worldwide



Air transport security in Malaysia ­205



30M 30M
29M 28.8M 27.8M 29M
27.3M 27.5M


2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2030

M = Millions

Source:  Tolan et al. (2014).

Figure 12.2  Annual worldwide commercial airline departures

The objective of this chapter is to discuss the present state of air transport
security in Malaysia with a focus on aircraft flight tracking and conflict zone
risk. In order to meet this objective, the chapter is divided into four sections:
Malaysia’s civil aviation industry (section 12.2), commercial aviation inci-
dents in Malaysia (section 12.3), air transport security in Malaysia (section
12.4), and challenges, implications and recommendations (section 12.5).


Today, in terms of RPK, Asia Pacific holds the majority world market
share with a value of 31.5 percent, followed by Europe with a value of 26.7
percent (IATA 2016a). Strategically situated in the world’s growth region,
Malaysia, a South East Asian state with a population of 30.5 million
(‘The World Factbook’ n.d.; Rom and Rahman 2016) and member of the
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)4 shares a land and mari-
time border with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam,
Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam (Chong and Chang 2016). Air traffic
into Malaysia is on the rise. In 2014, it was reported that 85 million pas-
sengers passed through all Malaysian airports (ICAO Journal 2015a), as
illustrated in Figure 12.3.
In the early stages, civil aviation in Malaysia focused on bridging the

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206 Air transport security

100 millions
80 millions
Number of passengers

65M 68M
60 millions 59M

40 millions

20 millions

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

Source:  ICAO Journal (2015a).

Figure 12.3  Passenger movement in all Malaysian airports (2010–2014)

divide between East and West Malaysia. Today, civil aviation is an integral
part of Malaysia’s economy and vision to be a developed nation (referred
to as wawasan 2020 or vision 2020) (Ehambaranathan et al. 2015; Soltani
et al. 2015; Eriksson 2015).
Malaysia’s Vision 2020 aspirations are economically supported by the
country’s goal and strategy to be a leading aviation nation in Asia Pacific.
Most recent reports suggest that the civil aviation sector contributes RM7.3
billion (1.1 percent) to the Malaysian gross domestic product (GDP) (Oxford
Economics 2011). In addition, there are RM17.2 billion in ‘catalytic’ benefits
through tourism, which raise the overall contribution of the civil aviation
sector to RM24.5 billion or 3.6 percent of the Malaysian GDP (Oxford
Economics 2011). A total of 345,000 Malaysian people are employed at pres­
ent as a result of the catalytic effects of civil aviation (Khazahnah Nasional
2014). All these points together demonstrate the significance of aviation and
the benefits to the Malaysian economy. Thus, the Malaysian government
continues to support liberalization (through policies such as the open skies
agreement) and structural transformation (i.e. meeting air traffic volume by
developing a new airport called KLIA 2 and ultimately increasing airport
space) (Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia 2015a).
Moreover, studies have shown that the national carrier, MAS contrib-
utes an estimated RM6.9 billion toward the annual GDP (Khazahnah
Nasional5 2014). Experts explain that the aviation industry has one of the

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Air transport security in Malaysia ­207

highest economic multipliers of any industry – 12x, versus the typical 1–3x
of other industries (Khazahnah Nasional 2014). Therefore, the aviation
industry holds great economic importance to Malaysia. Furthermore,
Khazahnah Nasional (2014) asserts that for every one person employed by
MAS, another four jobs are created elsewhere in the economy (Khazahnah
Nasional 2014).
Thus, based on the evidence above, the critical importance of the air
transportation industry thriving for Malaysians and MAS cannot be
understated. Civil aviation provides much to the nation’s economy con-
necting Malaysia and her people to global markets, facilitating trade,
expanding export markets, and generating tourism (Department of Civil
Aviation Malaysia 2015a).
However, recent commercial aviation incidents in Malaysia (explained
in section 12.3) have disrupted the air transportation industry. As result of
such incidents, the industry has faced economic loss and negative percep-
tions. Problems in air transport security in Malaysia have caused disorder
in both Malaysian and global civil aviation.


In order to understand Malaysia’s recent air transport security concerns

today, the events that transpired regarding flight MH370 and flight
MH17 require discussion. On March 8, 2014, MH370 (a Boeing 777-200)
departed from KLIA6 at 0:41am local time (LT) to Beijing, China with
239 persons (Office of the Chief Inspector of Air Accident Ministry of
Transport Malaysia 2014). At 1:19 a.m. LT, MH370 was transferred by
Kuala Lumpur Air Traffic Control Centre (KL ATCC) to Ho Chi Minh
Air Traffic Control Centre (HCM ATCC) (Office of the Chief Inspector
of Air Accident Ministry of Transport Malaysia 2014). The MH370
pilot acknowledged the transmissions with HCM ATCC; this was flight
MH370’s last contact with KL ATCC.
There was no radio notification of flight problems from the crew, no
radio communication from the crew after 1:19 a.m. and no emergency loca-
tor transmitter communication received (Office of the Chief Inspector of
Air Accident Ministry of Transport Malaysia 2014). MH370’s radar label
began to fade and eventually dropped from the KL ATCC radar screen.
At 1.21 a.m. LT, the transponder7 was turned off and traffic controllers
could no longer identify flight MH370 (Safety Investigation Team for
MH370 2015). Based on queries from HCM ATCC, subsequent attempts
to establish communication with MH370 were futile and failure to obtain

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208 Air transport security

a position report from various sources resulted in the Kuala Lumpur

Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (KL ARCC) being activated at
05:30 a.m. LT (Office of the Chief Inspector of Air Accident Ministry of
Transport Malaysia 2014). In the aviation industry, the inconceivable had
happened: a 200ft long, wide-bodied jet plane nearly six stories high and
carrying 239 people vanished without a trace (Frizell 2014). Table 12.3
highlights the initial response by the civil aviation bodies involved in the
first four hours of the flights disappearance
The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) was informed that flight
MH370 was missing and an international investigation was launched
(Office of the Chief Inspector of Air Accident Ministry of Transport
Malaysia 2014). In accordance with the ICAO Annex 13,8 Malaysian Civil
Regulation 1996 Part XII9 four accredited representatives were appointed:
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of USA,10 Air Accidents
Investigation Branch (AAIB) of United Kingdom,11 the Australian gov-
ernment and the Chinese government.
The disappearance of MH370 continued to linger in public consciousness
months after and was tragically followed with another MAS tragedy on
July 17, 2014. On July 17, a surface-to-air missile shot down MAS flight
MH17 over war-torn Eastern Ukraine, killing 298 passengers and crew
(Reynolds 2016). Flight MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala
Lumpur (Mignon 2016). The Boeing aircraft was in cruise flight close to the
Ukrainian/Russian border at 33,000 feet,12 under the control of Ukrainian
Air Traffic Control (UATC) and was operated by a competent crew (Dutch
Safety Board 2014). At 13:20 hours in Ukraine, a warhead13 detonated out-
side and above the left hand side of the cockpit of flight MH17.14 According
to the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) preliminary report,15 the aircraft was in
an airworthy condition at Amsterdam Airport (Dutch Safety Board 2014).
According to Annex 13, notifications were sent to Malaysia,16 the US,17
ICAO, the Netherlands18 and Australia19 (Dutch Safety Board 2014). The
National Bureau of Investigation of Ukraine (NBAAI) began an investi-
gation on the same day of the incident. On July 23, 2014, the investigation
was assigned to the DSB (Dutch Safety Board 2014). The ICAO advised
DSB in procedural matters to ensure compliance with standards and
practices set forth in Annex 13 (Dutch Safety Board 2014).
Together, flights MH370 and MH17 resulted in the loss of 537 lives.
However, not knowing what happened to flight MH370 remains, as inves-
tigations have yet to discover the cause of the crash or the physical MH370
aircraft.20 The mystery of flight MH370 followed by eight tragedies21 in air
travel started a very public discussion on the risks of air travel. In relation
to MH370, consumers learnt that without a transponder on, it is very
difficult for aviation professionals to locate a plane despite living in an era

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Air transport security in Malaysia ­209

Table 12.3  Details of initial response of missing aircrafts

Local time Details of initial response of missing aircraft

1:07 a.m. ● 
The last data transmission from Flight MH370 using the
ACARS protocol is made (Safety Investigation Team for
MH370 2015).
1:07–2:03 a.m. ● 
The satellite communication link is lost (Safety
Investigation Team for MH370 2015).
1:19 a.m. ● 
KL ATCC requests the MH370 crew to contact Ho Chi
Minh ATCC (HCM ATCC). The aircraft passes wayward
IGARI1 as the MH370 pilot signs off with words ‘all
right, good night’. This is the last voice contact with Flight
370 (Safety Investigation Team for MH370 2015).
1:21 a.m. ● 
The position of Flight 370 vanishes from KL ATCC
radar, indicating the aircraft’s transponder is no longer
functioning (Safety Investigation Team for MH370 2015).
Malaysian military radar captures flight MH370
immediately beginning to turn left until it is travelling in a
south-westerly direction at this time (Safety Investigation
Team for MH370 2015).
1.38 a.m. ● 
HCM ATCC reaches out to KL ATCC in regards
to MH370 last seen radar. KL ATCC has no success
communicating with MH370 (Office of the Chief
Inspector of Air Accident Ministry of Transport
Malaysia 2014).
02:15 a.m. ● 
KL ATCC reaches out to MAS to query on flight MH370
location. MAS informs KL ATCC that MH370 aircraft is
in Cambodian airspace based on MAS flight tracker. This
information is relayed to HCM ATCC by KL ATCC.
HCM ATCC is still not able to establish communication
with MH370 (Office of the Chief Inspector of Air
Accident Ministry of Transport Malaysia 2014).
02:18 a.m. ● 
KL ACC contacts HCM ATCC asking whether Flight
MH370’s planned flight route is supposed to enter
Cambodian airspace. HCM ATCC replies that Flight
370’s route did not include Cambodian air space.
Cambodia had also confirmed to HCM ATCC that
MH370 had not entered Cambodian airspace (Office
of the Chief Inspector of Air Accident Ministry of
Transport Malaysia 2014).
03:30 a.m. ● 
Finally, MAS informs KL ACC that the flight tracker
is not an accurate tracking tool but based on flight
trajectory projection (Office of the Chief Inspector of Air
Accident Ministry of Transport Malaysia 2014).

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210 Air transport security

Table 12.3  (continued)

Local time Details of initial response of missing aircraft

03:30–5:30 a.m. ● 
Additional coordination efforts to locate aircraft were
made by HCM ATCC and Singapore ATCC (Office
of the Chief Inspector of Air Accident Ministry of
Transport Malaysia 2014).
5:30 a.m. ● 
KL Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) is
activated by Air Traffic Controllers who are Search and
Rescue (SAR) trained (Office of the Chief Inspector of
Air Accident Ministry of Transport Malaysia 2014).

Note:  1 The transponder – which identifies the plane and transmits its altitude and
location to ground controllers – was turned off at 1.21 a.m. local time as the aircraft flew
into Vietnamese airspace from Malaysian air traffic control over the South China Sea, a
vulnerable point noted by aviation experts in a Reuters report as Malaysian and Vietnamese
controllers could assume that the plane was the other’s responsibility.

Source:  Table adapted from Office of the Chief Inspector of Air Accident Ministry of
Transport Malaysia (2014).

of exponential technological advancement. Subsequently, the downing of

MH17 brought attention to the allowed practice of commercial jets flying
into airspace known as a warzone (in this case Donestk in Ukraine). The
DSB on MH17 conveyed that there was adequate reason to close the
airspace above Eastern Ukraine because of the Russian-separatist conflict
(Dutch Safety Board 2015), yet the Donestk area which MH17 flew over
had only a no-fly zone, which was in place up to 32,000ft and so MH17 flew
at 33,000ft (Milmo 2014).


Malaysia air transport security is based on international standards

(Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia 2015b). The Malaysian gov-
ernment does not take separate unique security measures and instead
stringently follows ICAO recommendations. Consequently, the Malaysian
government has been pushing for global standards in aircraft tracking and
conflict zone risk mitigation, so that rules and measures taken in Malaysia
are in line with international standards (Brown 2014).
ICAO and IATA are two bodies which are involved in governing
­international aviation (i.e. policymaking) and setting standards for better

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Air transport security in Malaysia ­211

air travel operations respectfully. ICAO is a branch of the United

Nations22 and represents the different government authorities of UN
member nations (Knoch 2014), whereas, IATA23 is a trade associations of
airlines (Havel and Sanchez 2009).
ICAO was founded based on the Convention on International Civil
Aviation (Chicago Convention)24 (ICAO Journal 2015b). Based on the
Chicago Convention,25 ICAO develops principles and standards, technical
processes for international air navigation, and planning of air transport to
ensure safety (ICAO n.d.).26 For instance, ICAO27 defines the procedures
for air accident investigation followed by transport authorities of member
states (ICAO 2014a).
The ICAO council is guided by two essential principles of the Chicago
Convention when adopting new safety standards and practices: First,
states are responsible for the safety of civil aviation operations in their
respective sovereign airspace (ICAO 2013) and second, airspace users are
ultimately responsible for deciding where they can operate safely (ICAO
Journal 2015b).
Malaysia signed the Chicago Convention on April 7, 1958 (ICAO n.d.).
Malaysia is one of the member states with effective implementation above
60 percent of the ICAO Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP). According
to the near-term objectives of the GASP, an effective implementation (EI)
of over 60 percent is required to have 100 percent implementation of the
State Safety Program (SSP) by 2017,28 thus addressing risk explicit to their
aviation systems according to ICAO (ICAO 2015a).
In May 2014, ICAO hosted a special multidisciplinary meeting on global
flight trafficking (ICAO 2015b). As a result of the meeting, an ad-hoc
working group (ADWG) on flight tracking was established by ICAO.
The ADWG developed a Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System
(GADSS). Figure 12.4 gives a summary of the main components of
GADDSS (ICAO 2015b). Further, on July 24, 2014, ICAO created a task
force for conflict risk zone, in response to the MH17 tragedy.
IATA (the world’s trade association for airlines) represents 260 air-
lines or 83 percent of total air traffic (IATA 2016b). IATA supports and
helps formulate industry policy on critical aviation issues (IATA 2016c).
Further, IATA grants international certification to member airlines called
IOSA (Petersen 2015).29 The IOSA certification is recognized globally
to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline
(Petersen 2015). Airlines are re-evaluated every two years (Petersen 2015).
IOSA is believed to be the industry standard of stringent rules and
practices governing aviation safety. All IATA members including MAS
are IOSA registered. MAS and other IATA members must continue to be
IOSA certified to maintain IATA membership (IATA 2016b).

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SZYLIOWICZ 9781786435194 PRINT.indd 212
Flight Data Recovery
• Automatically deployed
Autonomous Distress • Floatable
Tracking (ADT) • Contains ELT to aid location
• A Distress Signal • Alternate Solution
• Auto Triggered by very • Performance Based
specific event • Provides a minimum CVR and
Aircraft Tracking • May be manually activated FDR dataset
• Can not be isolated • Operation Approval Required
Abnormal Operations
• Triggered by abnormal events

• Provides flight location data at
least once per minute
• Controllable by flight crew
• Multiple solutions Airline
Aircraft Tracking
Normal Operations
• Possible Subset of ATS
• Used for Airline Operational ATS/RCC
• Controllable by Flight Crew
• Multiple solutions

Source:  ICAO (2015b).

Figure 12.4  Global aeronautical distress and safety system formulated by ICAO 

25/07/2018 10:56
Air transport security in Malaysia ­213

The governing body in Malaysia which regulates air transport security

is the DCA. The DCA was developed under the Malaysian Ministry of
Transport in 1969, based upon the Civil Aviation Act 1969 by the Malaysian
Parliament (Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia 2006). The DCA was
formed mainly to provide safe, efficient and orderly flow of air transporta-
tion and to regulate aviation activities in Malaysia (Department of Civil
Aviation Malaysia 2015c; Barreveld 2015).
The DCA’s functions and responsibilities are the following (Barreveld

1. Exercise regulatory functions in respect to civil aviation, airport and

aviation services including the establishment of standards and the
enforcement of the standards.
2. To represent the government in respect of civil aviation matters and to
do all things necessary for this purpose.
3. To ensure the safe and orderly growth of civil aviation throughout
4. To encourage the development of airways, airport and air navigation
facilities for civil aviation.
5. To promote the provision of efficient airport and aviation services by
the licensed company.
6. To promote the interests of users of airport and aviation services
in Malaysia in respect of the prices charged for, and the quality and
variety of, services provided by the licensed company.

There are 13 divisions in DCA, which report to the director general of the
DCA5 (Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia 2015d). This chapter only
focuses on Aviation Security Division (ASD).
ASD’s main responsibility is safeguarding domestic and international
civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference (Department of Civil
Aviation Malaysia 2015b). ASD’s responsibilities are guided by ICAO
Annexes 9, 17, and 18 and DOC 8973 and DOC 9284. ASD heads six sub-
divisions (aviation security program, transportation of dangerous goods
by air, investigation, intelligence, training certification, annual audit); each
sub-division has its own independent function as displayed in Table 12.4.

12.4.1  Malaysian Regulation in Civil Aviation

The civil aviation system in Malaysia is based on the federal constitution

(Barreveld 2015). The legal framework in place consists of the legislation
enacted by Parliament as displayed in Table 12.5. In the local context, the
Malaysian government updated the Civil Aviation Act 1996 (Act 3) to Civil

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214 Air transport security

Table 12.4  Summary of ASD sub-divisions in Malaysia

Sub-division of Sub-divisions’ main purpose

Aviation Security
Aviation Security ● This sub-division’s main goal is to guarantee security
Program measures in air transport satisfy national laws and
that ICAO standards are in place.
  ●  i.e. security requirements during airport
construction and renovation.
● The sub-division also defines laws, standards, and
regulations of aviation security in Malaysia based on
NCASP and ICAO regulations.
● This sub-division also reviews standard operating
procedures of security units in Malaysian air
transport and assess contingency plans.
Transportation of ● This sub-division focuses on the executing the
Dangerous Goods by processes and issuance of approval related to
Air carriage of dangerous goods such as radioactive
materials, weapons, ammunition and explosives.
Investigation ● Investigations regarding unlawful interferences and
incidences related carriage of dangerous goods by
air are carried out by this sub-division.
Intelligence ● This sub-division’s main focus is to publish
information regarding aviation security issues to
assist in the prevention of smuggling activities.
Training Certification ● This sub-division function is to endorse air transport
institutions and companies which have gone through
the National Security Training Programme.
● The sub-division also certifies individuals,
specifically aviation security staff. This endorsement
ensures that security staffs are competent to perform
passenger screening functions.
Annual Audit ● Audits by ASD are conducted with organizations
associated with operations related to civil aviation
security. Organizations include regulated agents,
catering companies, ground handlers, training
institutions, national carriers and air transportation
● The division work with the aforementioned
organisations to conduct survey, observation and

Source:  Adapted from Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia (2015c).

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Air transport security in Malaysia ­215

Table 12.5  Malaysian legislation related to air transport security

Legislation Last amended/ Key points

1. Civil Aviation 1969, Last ● This act empowers the Minister of
Act 1969 (Act 3) amended June 1, Transport to give effect to the Chicago
2003 Convention and regulate civil aviation.
● This Act permits Ministry of Transport
(MOT) and Air Accidents Investigation
Bureau (AAIB) with the proper
authority to conduct investigations in
compliance with ICAO Annex 13.
● Empowers MOT to make rules
providing for ‘the investigation in such
manner as may be prescribed, including
by means of a tribunal established
for the purpose, of accident either
occurring in Malaysia or occurring to
an Malaysian aircraft’.
● States the duties and functions of
the Director General Civil Aviation
(DGCA) and by extension, the
objectives and functions of the DCA.
2. Civil Aviation ● Stipulates an ‘ipso facto’ to address
Regulations 1996 Updated to ICAO Annexes 1 to 18.
CAR 2016 ● Defines which accidents and incidents
shall be reported.
● Empowers MOT to appoint a Chief
Inspector of Air Accidents and
● CAR also allows the Chief Inspector
to have the authority to determine
if investigations of an accident
and incident are necessary, which
regulations apply and what form of
● CAR also stipulates that a mandatory
submission of a report to the DGCA
in respect of any reportable occurrence.

Source:  Barreveld (2015).

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216 Air transport security

Aviation Regulations 2016 (CAR)30 as a response to the flight MH370

tragedy (Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia 2016). A new section has
been included called ‘enforcement and investigations’, with more stringent
measures than CAR 1996 (Barreveld 2015).

Recommendations in civil aviation are formulated through international
collaborative effort via organizations and governments (rather than local
institutions working alone) based on real-life challenges and implications
faced by air travel service providers. In the case of flights MH370 and
MH17, recommendations were put forth by ICAO, IATA and DSB
for two main challenges – aircraft flight tracking and conflict zone risk

12.5.1  Aircraft Flight Tracking

The principle governing flight tracking31 lies in Annex 6 (operations of

aircraft) of the Chicago Convention (ICAO 2016), where provisions for
aircraft operators are detailed – examples include requirements for flight
recorders, in flight fuel management and communication and navigation
An immediate response after the ICAO High Level Safety Conference
in February 2015, was to formulate a performance based standard (ICAO
Journal 2015b). Over time, ICAO has gathered more intelligence on flight
tracking through industry collaboration with IATA, aircraft manufactur-
ers and safety experts. Normal aircraft tracking will be the standard norm
by November 2018. IATA and ICAO have worked together on table top
exercises and simulations to ensure that airlines and operators can meet
the 15 minute tracking standard in real world conditions (Broderick 2015).
This standard was tested by volunteering IATA members Qantas and
Virgin Australia wide-body aircraft and was eventually extended to all
Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) equipped aircrafts
operating in the Australia regions (The Nationals 2015). As a result, ICAO
state members are recommended to follow a new 15 minute flight-tracking
standard for passenger planes during normal operations that is not pre-
scriptive, meaning global airlines can meet the standard using available
aircraft equipment and the procedures which airlines deem cost effective
(i.e. through software upgrades instead of making physical changes to

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Air transport security in Malaysia ­217

Further, the flight MH370 tragedy has focused the world’s attention and
exposed areas that previously were not seen to be high risk in the past.
In March 2016, ICAO Council adopted new provisions for distress flight
tracking. The provisions focus on three key areas:

1. The requirement for the aircraft to carry autonomous distress-tracking

devices which can autonomously transmit location information at
least once every minute in distress circumstances (ICAO 2016).
2. The requirement for aircraft to be equipped with a means to have
flight recorder data recovered and made available in a timely manner
(ICAO 2015b).
3. ICAO will look to extend the duration of cockpit voice recordings to
25 hours so that air carriers and traffic control can cover all phases of
flight for all types of operations (ICAO 2015b).

ICAO recommends passenger planes to be fitted with systems enabling

aircrafts to report their positions every minute when in distressed condi-
tions and the transmission of location should be possible even in the event
of aircraft electrical power loss by November 2018 (ICAO 2016). This is
what ICAO refers to as Autonomous Distress Tracking (ADT), which is
under the GADSS.
IATA and ICAO are now focusing on testing and validating the
distress-tracking standard to roll out as an expected practice in January
2021 (Constable 2015; IATA 2016d). The two organizations will, via
a new set of exercises in Normal Aircraft Tracking Implementation
Initiative (NATII), work to design a distress-tracking standard which
can be realistic­ally adapted to the real world environment of civil aviation
(Wainscott-Sargent 2016).

12.5.2  Conflict Zone Risk Mitigation

The principle governing the MH17 incident lies in Article 3 of the Chicago
Convention. Abeyratne (2014, p. 1). Article 3 articulates that Annex 3
states that contracting states recognize that every state must refrain from
resorting to the use of weapons against civil aircraft in flight and that, in
case of interception, the lives of all persons on board and the safety of
aircraft must not be endangered.
According to MH17 investigations (conducted by DSB under the
compliance of the Chicago Convention), the aviation parties involved in
the MH17 incident did not identify the risks of armed conflict in Eastern
Ukraine. The DSB articulates three civil aviation best practices to be
adopted after the conclusion of the MH17 investigation:

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218 Air transport security

1. stricter definition for closing airspace

2. risk assessment of conflict zones
3. operator accountability.

DSB asserts that in order to realize improvements on the three recom-

mendations, initiatives will have to be taken in both an international and
national context.

Stricter definition for closing airspace

The principle of sovereignty32 forms the basis of the Chicago Convention
(Dutch Safety Board 2015). DSB believes that a stricter redefinition of the
responsibility of states and their airspace and far more active role by ICAO
is required. ICAO member states (including Malaysia) are advised to
ensure the state’s responsibilities related to the safety of their airspace are
strictly defined in the Chicago Convention, so that the issue of when airspace
should be closed is clear (Dutch Safety Board 2015). This is because ICAO
members cannot independently define when airspace should be closed;
there needs to be a uniform standard in order to ensure air transportation
is run smoothly across the globe.

Risk assessment of conflict zones

DSB’s investigation showed that operators cannot take it for granted that
an open airspace above a conflict zone is safe (Dutch Safety Board 2015).
DSB suggests that IATA and ICAO encourage states and operators who
have relevant information about threats within a foreign airspace to make
information available in a timely manner to all states and operators across
the globe.
Malaysia and other states need to ensure operators are required through
national regulations to make risk assessments of overflying conflict zones.
Risks increasing and uncertain factors should be included in risk assess-
ments in accordance with the ICAO Working Group on Threat and Risk
recommendations (Dutch Safety Board 2015).
As a result of MH17, the ICAO Task Force on Risks to Civil Aviation
arising from conflict zone (TF RCZ),33 on August 2014, advocated a
central information system which was launched on April 2, 2015 (ICAO
2014b). The system is a web portal (called the risk repository) and is pres-
ently available to ICAO states, operators and the traveling public from the
homepage of the ICAO public website (ICAO Journal 2015b). The risk
repository includes a web application of NOTAMs34 supplemented with
relevant information regarding risks that conflict zones pose to aviation
(Croft 2015). The estimated cost could be as much as $2.5 million per year
to operate the web portal (Croft 2015). The web portal will be operated

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Air transport security in Malaysia ­219

by ICAO and draw upon input from all member states35 (ICAO Journal
2015b). Additionally, ICAO has also revamped the risk assessment process
for airlines by including factors that increase risk in conflict zones:

1. Civil aviation is the target of one of the fighting parties;

2. Those operating the anti-aircraft missiles are poorly trained or inex-
perienced (possibly in combination with the absence of a properly
functioning command structure);
3. Flights involving military airplanes in a combat role are taking place;
4. Military transport flights are taking place;
5. Flight routes run through or close to locations of strategic importance,
which can be attacked from the air;
6. The absence of effective air traffic management above the area, for
example because the state in which the armed conflict is occurring
does not have complete control over its territory.

DSB has pointed out that the focus of risk assessment has typically been
on ground (place of departure and destination); this is addressed in Annex
17 of Chicago Convention (Dutch Safety Board 2015). However, Annex
17 does not explicitly include the assessment of potential threats in foreign
airspace at cruising altitude.36 Due to the past Annex 17, operators have
focused on the safety of their take-off and landing locations (Dutch Safety
Board 2015). Hence MH17 reveals a lack of regulations related to risk
management in relation to upper airspace (Dutch Safety Board 2015).
In order to facilitate an effective assessment of the risks posed by
conflict areas based on the threat analysis, ICAO in 2015, identified a
number of factors (listed above) that increase risk for a civil aircraft being
shot down (Dutch Safety Board 2015). These factors need to be included
in states’ and operator’s risk analysis.
IATA published for the 9th edition of the IOSA Standards Manual (ISM)
on September 1, 2015, the issues of over flight of armed conflict zones
(IATA 2016b). The guidance material relating to IOSA Standard DSP
1.12.2 was amended to include armed conflict zones (IATA 2016b, p. 4):

DSP 1.12.2: The Operator shall have a safety risk assessment and mitigation
program in the organization responsible for the operational control of flights
that specifics processes to ensure:
(i)  Hazards are analysed to determine the corresponding safety risks to aircraft
(ii) Safety risks are assessed to determine the corresponding safety risks to
aircraft operations; and
(iii)  When required, risk mitigation actions are developed and implemented in
operational control.

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220 Air transport security

. . .
Hazards are relevant to the conduct of aircraft operations are typically associ-
ated with: . . .
● Operations in airspace affected by armed conflict.

Besides actions taken (particularly the ICAO Conflict Zone Repository), a

platform to exchange information on best practices assessing risks related
to overflying of conflict zones needs to be initiated by ICAO and IATA
according to DSB (Dutch Safety Board 2015). However, best practices on
flying through conflict zones will require time as countries and airliners
adopt the ICAO risk repository and risk analysis tools provided only
recently by ICAO. Over time, as the risk repository data grows and
experiences using the updated Chicago Convention on over flying conflict
zones continues, ICAO and IATA members will be in a better position to
formulate and train members on best practices.

Operator accountability
In aviation today, it is not clear which flight routes pass over which conflict
zones. Airlines should provide public accountability for flights chosen, at
least once a year (Dutch Safety Board 2015). DSB also recommends that
IATA ensure that IATA members agree on the method to publish informa-
tion regarding flight routes over conflict zones and making operators
accountable for that information (Dutch Safety Board 2015).
Whilst DSB appreciates the essential need for information and intel-
ligence which may affect the safety of passengers and crew, DSB also rec-
ognizes the highly complex and politically sensitive area of international
coordination required for conflict zone risk assessment (IATA 2016b).
However, IATA has responded by not making such prominent changes
as recommended by DSB on transparent operator accountability practices
regarding conflict zones and flight routes. Instead, IATA believes that
providing the public with access on IATA’s website of members with IOSA
certification is sufficient. This is because the IOSA certification today now
includes over flying conflict zones risk in the risk analysis of an airline
(IATA 2016b).

12.5.3 Malaysia and MAS Respond to Aircraft Tracking and Conflict

Zone Mitigation

There were several problems that arose in locating the physical aircraft of
flight MH370. Firstly, there was the absence of conventional data such as
the aircraft’s last known position, altitude, speed, actual flight route (ICAO

SZYLIOWICZ 9781786435194 PRINT.indd 220 25/07/2018 10:56

Air transport security in Malaysia ­221

2015c). This absence of conventional data was a result of: no d ­ istress

beacon detections, old tracking technology adopted by MAS, heavy
reliance on ACARS system and a transponder which can be switched
off and the military’s reservation in sharing radar information as a result
of national security implications. Subsequently, the aviation community
believes such problems faced by a nation and carrier could be averted
through better technology adoption supporting flight tracking and timely
tracking of aircrafts.
In response to current challenges of flight tracking, Malaysia has invited
tenders for a planned 700 million ringgit (US$190 million) upgrade of
Malaysian civilian radar systems and also Malaysia is improving the
coordination between civilian and military agencies (Raghuvanshi and Ng
2015). The government has made the decision to upgrade radar technology
due to rising air traffic into the country and the disappearance of flight
MH370 exposing weaknesses in radar systems and techniques to track
airliners in flight in Malaysia (Raghuvanshi and Ng 2015). The transport
ministry has confirmed that up till October 2015, Malaysia has spent
RM231.5 million on operations to find MH370 and RM12.9 million on
the recovery mission for flight MH17 (Raghuvanshi and Ng 2015).
At the company level, MAS data from the airline’s Boeing 777 jets is
now downloaded every 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes as previously
(Raghuvanshi and Ng 2015), thus adopting the new ICAO recommenda-
tions. The flight tracker installed in MAS planes is the SITA OnAir’s
Aircom Flight Tracker37 service, which allows for the new ‘15 minutes
minimum’ surveillance period (SITA 2015).
In terms of conflict zone risk assessment, Malaysia as an ICAO
member follows ICAO’s 2nd High Level Safety Conference in February,
Recommendations (ICAO 2015d) and practices highlighted by the DSB.


Air transport security in Malaysia is inevitably linked to the international

civil aviation security standards because of the very nature of civil aviation
means airlines cross state borders. Thus, the international community
believes that addressing the issues of flight tracking and conflict zone risk
lies in the hands of member states of ICAO, and cannot be addressed by
one country alone. If Malaysia were to choose to have independent stand-
ards for issues such as flight tracking and conflict zone risk for incoming
air traffic, it would create great administrative issues as airlines would have
different standards for different countries. While the Chicago Convention
respects sovereignty of member states, ICAO members such as Malaysia

SZYLIOWICZ 9781786435194 PRINT.indd 221 25/07/2018 10:56

222 Air transport security

believe that to effectively and efficiently improve civil aviation security

means working through ICAO, ICAO’s regional offices and partners
(ICAO Journal 2015b).
Thus, in terms of air flight tracking, Malaysia has taken part in confer-
ences and task forces to formulate the two new practices. Firstly, ICAO
states have agreed that when the flight is cruising and operations are
normal, the flight tracking must be done in 15 minute intervals. Secondly,
ICAO states have established that when a flight is in distressed conditions,
the flight must report their position every minute. Furthermore, ICAO has
established that the transmission of the location of the aircraft must be
possible even in the occurrence of an electrical power loss on the aircraft.
In terms of conflict zone risk, DSB has articulated three main changes
that should be adopted by ICAO and IATA. DSB urges ICAO to redefine
when member states should be closing airspace. A new definition of when
to close airspace needs to be added to the current Chicago Convention.
Additionally, DSB believes that the fate of MH17 shows that the ICAO
needs to reevaluate current risk assessment metrics for conflict zones.
ICAO, after creating a task force to address conflict zone risk assessment,
has added six factors and thus revamped the risk assessment process
required by airlines. Additionally, ICAO has created central information to
ensure information pertaining to conflict zone risk can be timely accessed
by member states. Furthermore, IATA has added risk analysis including
conflict zone risk as part of the IOSA certification of airlines today.
The Malaysian government has actively participated and aided in the
conferences and task forces established by ICAO and IATA to address
flight tracking and conflict zone risk. In response to the high level changes
in standards and practices, Malaysia is in the process of upgrading civil
radar systems and improving the coordination between civilian and
military agencies. On a company level, MAS now adopts the SITA OnAir
Aircom Flight Tracker that allows 15 minutes intervals of flight tracking.
Ultimately, the challenge of enhancing security is much bigger than one
country or region and requires international collaboration.


  1. Revenue Passenger Kilometers measures actual passenger traffic, specifically the sales
volume carried by IATA members. RPK = the number of revenue-paying passenger
onboard a flight? distance travelled in kilometers.
  2. 153 out of 239 of passengers onboard were Chinese.
  3. MAS delisted from the stock exchange on December 12, 2014. Performance results of
2015 are not available.
  4. International governing body of aviation, part of the United Nations.

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Air transport security in Malaysia ­223

 5. Khazahnah Nasional is the wealth fund or investment arm of the Government of
  6. Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
  7. A device identifying jets to ground controllers.
  8. This Annex conveys aircraft accident and incident investigation.
  9. Part XII conveys Investigation of Accidents in Malaysian Civil Regulations 1996.
10. NTSB is the state member of ICAO that represents state of design and manufacture of
the aircraft in this situation.
11. AAIB is the state member of ICAO that represents state of design and manufacture for
the aircraft engines in this situation.
12. There was only a no-fly zone which was in place up to 32,000ft.
13. 9N314M warhead installed on the Buk surface-to-air missile system.
14. Other scenarios that could have led to the disintegration of the airplane were consid-
ered, analyzed and excluded based on the evidence available.
15. Based on preliminary findings, there were no technical and operational issues found
with aircraft or crew prior to ending of voice recordings. Damage in the forward section
of aircraft suggests that the aircraft was penetrated by a large number of high-energy
objects from outside the aircraft.
16. State of Registry and state suffering fatalities.
17. State of Design and Manufacture.
18. State having suffered fatalities.
19. State having suffered fatalities.
20. On September 3, 2015, French officials conveyed that the flaperon debris found on
Reunion Island belonged to the MH370 plane. To present day, investigation has been
discontinued by the governments involved because there has been little success in
concluding the reason for flight MH370 disappearance in the three-year investigation.
21. MAS flight MH370, MAS flight MH17, TransAsia Airways flight GE222, Air Algerie
flight AH5017, Indonesia Air Asia flight QZ8501, TransAsia Airways flight GE235,
Germanwings flight 9525, Metrojet flight 9268.
22. Established by Article 44 of the Chicago Convention signed at Chicago on December 7,
1944. ICAO has 191 contracting states.
23. Malaysia Airlines is the only Malaysian carrier that is an IATA member, this means
AirAsia and Malindo Air are not IATA members.
24. The Convention establishes rules of airspace, aircraft registration and safety, and details
the rights of the signatories in relation to air travel; it also exempts air fuels from tax.
25. There are 96 articles which establish rules on airspace, aircraft registration, safety and
details of the rights of state members who have signed the Chicago Convention. The
Convention also details issues and recognition of certificates of airworthiness, operating
certificates and licenses.
26. ICAO sets objectives for safety in the Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP) which is
coordinated and supported by regional implementation under ICAO’s regional aviation
groups or Tactical Air Support Groups (TASGs).
27. The 37th Session of ICAO Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO) held on September 28, 2010 officially recognized that ICAO has three stra-
tegic objectives: safety, security and environment protection and sustainability of air
28. State Safety Programme is an integrated set of regulations and activities aimed at
improving safety.
29. IOSA stands for IATA Operational Safety Audit.
30. These regulations come into operation on March 31, 2016.
31. A process established by the operator that maintains and updates at standardized
intervals a ground based record of the four dimensional position of individual aircraft
in flight.
32. This principle applies that every state is responsible for its own airspace and determines
independently how and by whom the airspace is used.

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224 Air transport security

33. A body that addresses issues related to safety and security of civil aircraft operating in
airspace affected by conflict to study concepts for sharing risk data and create guidance
for developing risk assessments that states can use to decide when to issue warnings or
close airspace.
34. NOTAM stands for an unclassified notice filed with an aviation authority to warn
aircraft pilots of potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect
the safety of the flight. NOTAMs are created and transmitted by government agencies
and airport operators under guidelines specified by Annex 15.
35. Only certain users will be able to add data, and ICAO says it will not be responsible for
information from anonymous sources.
36. It does not prevent states from assessing on air risks if necessary.
37. Uses existing equipment and re-purposes air traffic control data. This ground-based
software upgrade allows airlines to follow aircraft positions and identify any unexpected
deviations or gaps in position reports. Because it utilizes existing equipment, the
solution is highly cost effective. SITA OnAir has designed a solution that works using
the AIRCOM Server ACARS message handling system, which airlines already have
in place, so the cost and disruption are minimal. AIRCOM FlightTracker enables the
airline to proactively obtain ADS-C tracking data immediately when it detects a gap in
data from other sources.


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Table 12A.1  Summary of air travel tragedies (2014–2015)1

Date Deaths
2014, March 8 ● 
flight MH370 disappeared from radar. At 239
time of writing cause of disappearance and the
location of the aircraft is unknown. However,
debris of a flaperon has been found in Reunion
2014, July 17 ● 
MAS flight MH17 shot down by surface-to-air 298
missile in Ukraine. Investigations on who is
responsible are still ongoing.
2014, July 23 ● 
TransAsia Airways flight GE222 crashed due to 48
pilot error and bad weather.
2014, July 24 ● 
Air Algerie flight AH5017 crashed to the 116
ground due to pilot error.
2014, December ●  Indonesia Air Asia flight QZ8501 crashed into 162
28 the Java Sea as a result of pilot error, poor
alternatives for technical malfunction and
bad weather. The flight was not permitted by
authorities to fly Surabaya-Singapore route.
2015, February 4 ● 
TransAsia Airways flight GE235 crashed only 43
two minutes after taking off into a nearby river
from Songshan Airport in Taipei as a result of
basic mistakes by pilot.
2015, March 24 ●  Germanwings flight 9525 crashed into the 150
French Alps, which was found to be caused
deliberately by the co-pilot on a suicide mission.
2015, October ● 
Metrojet flight 9268 crashed into the Sinai 224
31 Peninsula. The reason for the crash is still
under investigation. Russia, UK and the
USA have reasons to believe that plane was
brought down by a bomb and the Islamic State
group is responsible, however Egypt refutes
this hypothesis. Until the investigations have
concluded, cause is unknown.

Note:  1 Details of air travel tragedies are accurate to what we know at time of writing.
Flight MH370 and flight 9268 are still undergoing investigations for cause of tragedy and
flight MH17 is undergoing investigation to find person/party responsible for the shooting
down of flight MH17.

Source:  Adapted from Elvey (2016); The National (2016); Yahoo News (2015); Ap (2015);
Molko (2015); Botelho and Haddad (2015); Sonawane (2016).

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13.  Air transport security in Japan
Toki Udagawa Hirakawa


After the attacks on September 11, 2001, counterterrorism measures have

been strengthened at airports all over the world. Nevertheless, the threat of
terrorism continues to exist, especially as globalization has improved the
capacity for individuals and articles to be transported around the world.
For the first 32 years since its construction, Haneda Airport in Tokyo,
Japan, was primarily used for domestic flights. On October 31, 2010, an
international flight terminal (Terminal 3) opened at Haneda, and the air-
port began operating regular international flights for the first time. Prior
to this, Haneda had offered some international flights within Asia and
some non-regular flights. In 2010, however, Haneda officially became part
of the global network of international airports and took the first step to
becoming an international hub airport in Asia. Because the airport is open
24 hours and is near downtown Tokyo, it is convenient for passengers.
Before the internationalization of Haneda, in July 2010, Narita
International Airport introduced its new ‘Skyliner’ airport transit railway.
This railway service dramatically reduces travel time between Narita and
Ueno, a major city in Tokyo, from 60 minutes to 36 minutes.
In addition to these large airports, the number of international flights
out of local airports is increasing as well. Now, without passing through
a large airport like Narita or Haneda, passengers can depart for or arrive
from overseas at a small airport in Japan. Today, Japan has 97 airports
(Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport, 2017), more than twice
the number of urban and rural prefectures in the country.
When members of the general public use airports, various problems and
unexpected incidents occur. As people must travel alongside strangers, as
well as with strangers’ baggage, it is essential that each country maintains
an appropriate aviation security system to ensure that all people are safely
sent to their final destinations. Japan is linked to the other countries of
the world through air travel, and tens of thousands of passengers from
foreign countries come to Japan daily. Since most of these people arrive


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232 Air transport security

by aircraft, aviation security against any threat is increasingly important

in Japan.
Fifteen years have passed since the September 11 attacks. As time passes,
the public memory of the threat of aviation-related terrorism fades away.
Therefore, countries can no longer insist on aviation security reinforce-
ments and counterterrorism measures based solely on the memory of those
attacks. Instead, each country has to consider a balance between travelers’
convenience and security (Udagawa, 2010). Yet, because of the appearance
of ‘homegrown terrorists’ or ‘lone wolves’, we do not know where terror-
ists may be today.
In Japan, cooperation with other organizations for security reinforce-
ment is planned through anti-terrorism joint drills or airport security com-
mittees (Cabinet Secretariat, 2015). Under the leadership of the Ministry
of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT), proof experiments to
test the development and performance of security screening equipment at
airports are conducted periodically. Through these government office-led
actions, visible security is strengthened and influences the public.
In contrast, no clear conclusions have been reached about the role and
responsibility of the many private organizations that are now responsible
for Japanese aviation security. Not enough attention is being paid to the
private companies that contract with airlines to perform security screen-
ings of individuals and their baggage, which are indispensable for aviation
safety. Yet, the principal responsibility for aviation security in Japan lies
with the airline companies rather than the national government.
Security screeners confirm the safety of passengers and their baggage
according to international and civil counterterrorism and anti-hijacking
measures. Thus, the screeners assume an important duty for aviation
security. Airlines trust the screeners to ensure the security of everyone and
everything on an aircraft for safe flying.
The airport security business in Japan is one of the industries bound
by laws pertaining to the guard business. A guard performing a security
screening has only the same amount of authority as any other person as
opposed to the increased authority over others that a police officer would
have. Thus, all security checks are performed with passenger cooperation.
A screener cannot force a security check on a passenger.
Because aviation-related terrorism is a serious issue that can affect an
entire nation, these voluntary security checks are the strongest way of
ensuring safe air transport. In Japan, however, the screeners in charge of
security checks have no authority according to their contracts with airline
companies (Udagawa, 2009-1).
This study focuses on the Japanese aviation security system and sum-
marizes how the history of the international menace of terrorism and the

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security measures in Japan have changed over time. Next, it discusses the
balance between aviation security and the convenience of airport services in
Japan. Finally, it proposes some suggestions for the enhanced security sys-
tems that will be necessary for our international airports when Japan serves
as the host country for the Olympic Games in 2020 and in the future as well.


In the late 1960s, hijacking became a frequent occurrence in the Soviet
Union and Europe, as well as in the United States. In response to this
situation, in 1969, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
requested that each country ratify the Tokyo Treaty, the first international
treaty for the prevention of crimes such as hijacking. The treaty stipulates
that a crime occurring in an airplane will be considered to have occurred
within the registration country of the airplane and that all crimes occur-
ring on airplanes should be dealt with by the captain.
However, at the time of the formulation of this treaty, hijacking was
limited to certain countries. Almost all countries thought that the treaty’s
regulations about hijacking did not apply to them. Only 12 countries rati-
fied the treaty before the ICAO’s advice in 1969. The sense of an impend-
ing hijacking crisis was so low that not even Japan, where the Tokyo Treaty
was formulated, ratified it. This situation ended with the 1970 ‘Yodo-Go’
hijacking incident in Japan. Later that year, the ICAO again urged the
ratification of the Tokyo Treaty.

13.1.1  The ‘Yodo-Go’ Hijacking

The ‘Yodo-Go’ case was the first indication that the concept of aviation
security had to be taken seriously in Japan.
On March 31, 1970, nine members of the Japanese Communist League-
Red Army Faction (a predecessor of the Japanese Red Army) brought
swords, knives, and firearms onto a plane and invaded the cockpit. They
hijacked Japan Airlines Flight 351, also called ‘Yodo-Go’, while flying
from Haneda to Fukuoka with 138 crew members and passengers. Their
destination was Pyongyang, North Korea, and their purpose was exile.
This was the first hijacking case involving a plane that had departed from
Japan. As a case of hijacking was previously not believed to occur in Japan,
the country had no solutions to it. Succumbing to the criminals’ demands,
the Japanese government (the Sato Cabinet) released the Red Army mem-
bers and sent them to Pyongyang. Five days later, the ‘Yodo-Go’ case was
settled (National Police Agency, 2005).

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234 Air transport security

After the ‘Yodo-Go’ hijacking case, Japan immediately implemented

aviation security measures. On May 12, 40 days after the hijacking, Japan
ratified the Tokyo Treaty. A civil law pertaining to hijacking demanded ‘a
law about punishments for such crimes as the seizure of a plane’ by the
end of the same month and took effect in June. The Japan Civil Aviation
Bureau (J