Business aircraft can provide a unique level of privacy and security, but they also represent a potential high value target for criminals and terrorists. Assessing your business aviation security risk, and implementing mitigation strategies, can reduce your vulnerability.
Assess Your Risk
Assessing your business aviation security risk involves identifying threats and vulnerabilities. Threats to business aircraft operations are often tied to the overall specific threat to the business itself, or its owners or other key personnel, but business aircraft may also present a general target of opportunity in certain areas where they may be operated. Assessing the threat to your business aviation operations should include:
- A review of State Department, Overseas Security Advisory Council, law enforcement, and other publicly available security information for the areas where you operate.
- Engagement with the individuals who handle security for the overall business.
- Engagement with the individuals in your organization located in areas where the aircraft will be operated.
- Engagement with trade associations, security officials, and law enforcement representatives.
- A review of the need for a tailored security assessment, or access to commercial intelligence service information.
Once the threats have been identified, you will want to evaluate the areas of vulnerability for your aircraft operations. While the vulnerabilities will be specific to each operation, most operators will at least need to consider:
- Physical security of your aircraft both at home and away.
- Security and privacy for your passengers and crew members throughout the flight, and during their time at the destination.
- Vetting of crew members and passengers.
- Confidentiality of flight plans, destination travel and accommodations, and company security protocols.
Mitigate Your Risk
Once the specific business aviation security risks have been identified, you will need to evaluate the available options to mitigate each risk. Mitigation strategies can, and in some cases must, include costly and inconvenient measures, but that is not always the case. Inexpensive and relatively easy to implement measures often produce a high return on investment, and should not be overlooked. Examples include:
- Blocking your aircraft flight and ADS-B out information, which can make it much harder for third parties to track your operations.
- Positively verifying the identity of passengers and other individuals seeking access to the aircraft, which can serve as a strong deterrent.
- Training your crews and passengers on the basics of maintaining a low profile, which can reduce the chance that they become a target.
Planning ahead, doing the research, and carefully evaluating your options for mitigation are the keys to lowering your risk of a security issue.
Lori N. McGee is a partner with the law firm of Jetstream Aviation Law and counsels clients on the acquisition, financing and operation of corporate jets operated under Part 91 and Part 135 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. Jetstream Aviation Law can be found at www.JetstreamLaw.com.