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Harden Your International Operations Against Security Threats

NBAA Webinar Has Lessons on Crime and Terrorism

April 18, 2011

Security has always been a top priority for the business aviation community, but recent civil unrest overseas has led business aircraft operators to redouble their focus on international flight security.

NBAA has offered a series of resources to help Members address security concerns – the latest was a webinar presented March 31, entitled, "Protect Your Flight Department: Similarities of Crime & Terrorism."

"Organized crime and terrorists have found a very comfortable working relationship with one another," said webinar presenter Sam Harris, CEO of V1 Analytical Solutions and a captain in the U.S. Navy Reserves with two special operations tours in Iraq. "Most flight departments don't really have to worry about terrorist threats to the extent that they do organized crime…but more and more, terrorists are starting to engage in organized crime types of behavior."

Showing a map of the globe with areas that have required international intervention, Harris described an "Arc of Instability" that includes most of Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Central America and Andean South America. "These are now the areas where global commerce is starting to flow," said Harris. "As a business pilot, you're finding that you're flying into harm's way."

To help business aircraft operators harden their flight procedures against threats in these countries, Harris shared four lessons learned from the war on terrorism:

  • Lesson 1: Know the enemy. To understand a threat, it's essential to understand the criminal or terrorist's ends, ways and means, i.e. the objectives and methods used.
  • Lesson 2: Don't underestimate the enemy. "The enemy you face is intelligent; just because a person is wearing tattered clothes or living in a poor country doesn't mean they're not smart," said Harris. "The most resourceful people on the planet are those who don't have many resources."
  • Lesson 3: Your enemy understands risk vs. reward; you should, too. "All you have to do is make sure the risks you pose to anybody seeking to do you harm are greater than the risks posed by anyone else on the ramp," said Harris. "If we're all trying to make ourselves a little more hardened than the other guy, then everybody's game comes up eventually."
  • Lesson 4: Deterrence may be your best course of action. International operators should decrease the potential "reward" to criminals and terrorists of targeting their people and assets by not allowing business passengers' families to accompany them on trips and increase the 'risk' by hardening security.

Harris also offered practical procedures for hardening the security of international operations, such as using security tape on all access panels when the aircraft is unattended.

Greg Kulis, chair of the NBAA Security Council, discussed this advice as well as the security threat from the FAA's proposal to severely limit the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program.

To review more international security resources from the NBAA Security Council, read an article from earlier this year and the Security Council's list of best practices. Access NBAA's On-Demand Education portal to download this webinar.