Airline and Aircraft Security


Airport and Aircraft Security


In this lesson, you will see the various measures that are used for securing the Airport and parked Aircraft. The agencies carrying out security control measures and the gadgets used for this purpose shall also be discussed in brief.

Airport Security

Important Definitions

Security: A combination of measures of human and material resources intended to safeguarded civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference.

Security control: A means by which the introduction of weapons, explosives or other dangerous devices, which may be utilized to commit an act of unlawful interference, can be prevented.


Types of Attacks

The types of attacks that can occur are:

  1. Sabotage attacks against aircraft such as a person gaining access to baggage area and placing an explosive device
  2. Sabotage attacks against airport facilities such as car bomb in car parks, attacks against fuel storage areas or attacks against air navigation facilities.
  3. Unlawful seizure of aircraft such as unauthorized person gaining access to aircraft and seizing control


Security Lapses at Airports

Some examples of lapses at Airports are given below;


  1. In December 1987, 146 aircraft crashed, killing all on board, A disgruntled ex-employee shot his former manager and then the pilot. He evaded detection when passing to airside either by misusing his invalid permit or through familiarity with the access control guards. This incident shows that he was able to take a weapon on board and carry out an attack.
  2. In 1986 in Asia, attackers disguised themselves as members of the security staff, and unchallenged, drove to an unguarded aircraft, carried out an armed attack and killed more than 20 passengers and crew. This incident shows that poor access control allowed attackers to go through the control point near the terminal and carry out an attack against the selected target.

Difficulties Presented While Protecting an Airport

The difficulties presented in trying to protect an airport are:

  1. Size of the airport and boundary
  2. Number of workers at an airport
  3. The requirement for people and vehicles to have legitimate access for operational purposes
  4. 24- hour operations

Security of Airports

The basic security measures that are carried out at an Airport are:

  1. Access Control:
    1. For People
    2. For Vehicles
  2. Anti – Hijacking Measures:
    1. Screening of Hand Baggage
    2. Screening of Passengers
  3. Anti-Sabotage Measures:
  4. Guarding and Patrolling
  5. Surveillance:
    1. Manual
    2. CCTV
  6. Contingency Response

Access Control

Access Control ensures that only authorized persons enter the airport, or specific areas of the airport premises. The task of carrying out the functions of Access Control at the Airport is entrusted to the Aviation Security Group (ASG). Access Control is done by checking the documents of authorization.

The Access is controlled at:

  • Terminal Building
  • Different Areas of Terminal Building
  • Airside

Access is controlled for:

  • People
  • Vehicles

Anti-Hijacking Measures

The duty of taking anti-hijacking measures is assigned to the ASG at the Airports.

This has two components:

          Screening of Hand Baggage : The hand baggage carried by the passenger is subjected to X-ray examination of the baggage is also carried out. If any dangerous article is found in the baggage, it is removed.

          Screening of Passenger: The passenger, after passing the WTMD (Walk –through Metal Detector), is frisked with the help of the HHMD ( Hand Held Metal Detector), and if need be, is also subjected to a pat-down search, to ensure that no dangerous article is concealed on the body of the passenger.

Anti-Sabotage Measures

The duty of taking Anti-Sabotage measures is generally entrusted to the Airlines. This pertains to screening of the registered baggage of a passenger. If the Airport has in-line baggage screening facilities, then this work is done by the Airport operator.

Guarding and Patrolling

Guarding and Patrolling job is done by the ASG at the Airport. Guarding is basically placing a static guard at a place or facility to ensure that the integrity of the place is intact. It is with the objective of protecting vulnerable areas and facilities.

Patrolling is a mobile function carried out by security personnel to ensure that there are no breaches or violations of the premises. It is with an objective to prevent and deter unauthorized access. Patrolling can be done by:

  • Foot
  • Mobile (On a vehicle)


Surveillance is primarily done by the ASG, but other regulatory agencies like Customs, Police, Immigration, etc., are also involved in the surveillance at an airport, from their perspective.

Surveillance is done by:

Manual methods: A man is placed in an area to keep watch for suspicious activities by people. The person doing this duty is not in uniform.

CCTV: A network of cameras is placed in different areas, and a watch is kept in a covert manner over various people and activities at the Airport.

Contingency Response

Contingency response is assigned to ASG. ASG is a dedicated team which looks after the various security contingencies of an airport, like Bomb Threat or Hijack.

Aircraft Security

  1. In April 1973, attackers burst through an access control point at a Mediterranean airport.
  2. In November 1974, attackers broke through a boundary fence at a Middle East airport.

Aircraft security is generally the responsibility of the concerned Air Operator, but the Airport operator is also responsible for protecting the airport protection should be  clearly defined by the airport authority.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Parked Aircraft

Procedure for normal conditions:

  • Security person guarding the aircraft
  • Only authorized people allowed on-board
  • Intercept unauthorized people in the vicinity of or gaining access to the aircraft

Additional Procedure during heightened threat:

  • A specific person, appointed by the airline, should be asked to challenge
  • the unauthorized person attempting to board the aircraft.

The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for parked aircraft is as follows:

  • The parking areas of the Aircraft should be designated.
  • Portable lighting should be available.
  • Additional security guards / Patrols should be available.

Requirements for unattended aircraft are:

  1. Aircraft must be parked in a well-lit area.
  2. All external doors must be locked.
  3. Stairs and loading bridges must be removed.
  4. Stairs and steps in the vicinity of the aircraft must be moved away and immobilized

Aircraft Access Points

Responsibility of the Guard Protecting the Aircraft

The duties and responsibilities of a guard placed for protection of the aircraft are to:

  1. Establish the integrity of the aircraft upon taking up duty:
  • Ensuring that all possible means of access have been removed
  • Making a visual inspection of the exterior and ensuring that all is satisfactory
  • Ensuring that there is no object, which can cause problems, in the vicinity of the aircraft(for example, an oil drum near the aircraft, which can be blown by the wind)
  1. Prevent aircraft being approached by unauthorized persons
  2. Check the authorization of anyone wanting to approach the aircraft
  3. Patrol periodically
  4. Repeat visual inspection at random intervals, depending on the lighting and weather conditions

Response to Unauthorized Access to a Parked Aircraft

Response actions to be taken when an unauthorized person gains, or attempts to gain access to a parked aircraft will be as follows:

  1. Prevent the persons from gaining access to the aircraft
  2. Notify security supervisor
  3. Notify airline representative


  • Airport Security
  • Aircraft Security