Airport Safety and Security


Airport Safety and Security


Safety at the airside is very critical. Any accident at an airside may endanger the aircraft, airside equipment’s and invaluable human lives. Guidelines on the safe operating procedures to the airlines, airport authorities and all third party operators must be in place. These guidelines ensure that no accidents or incidents take place that result in disastrous consequences. A safety management system provides guidelines to ensure that incidents and accidents are reduced to the absolutely minimum.

Let us look at this topic in detail.


Airport Safety


Safety is the state in which the risk of harm to persons or of property damage is reduced to, and maintained at or below, an acceptable level through a continuing process of hazard identification and risk management. Safety is increasingly viewed as the management of risk.

Concept of Safety in Aviation

Concept of aviation safety may have different implications, such as:

  • Zero accidents ( or serious incidents) – a view held by travelers
  • Freedom from danger or risk – those factors which are likely to cause harm
  • Attitude towards unsafe acts and conditions by employees (reflecting a “safe” corporate culture)
  • Degree to which the inherent risks in aviation are “acceptable”
  • Process of hazard identification and risk management
  • Control of accidental loss (of persons and property, and damage to the environment)

Airport Safety Management System

A Safety Management System (SMS) is an organized approach to managing safety, including the necessary organizational structures, accountabilities, policies and procedures. A safety program will include many safety activities aimed at fulfilling the program objectives.


A State’s safety program has regulations and directives to conduct safe operations by the following agencies:

  • Aircraft operators
  • Air traffic service (ATS)
  • Aerodrome services
  • Aircraft maintenance

The safety program in SMS may include provisions for diverse activities such as:

  • Incident reporting

A Safety management system (SMS) is required to:

  • Implement safety activities in an integrated manner
  • Mitigate possible accidents or incidents


Implement the SMS shall take care of the following:

  • Identify safety hazards
  • Ensure the remedial actions necessary to mitigate the risks / hazards are implemented
  • Provide for continuous monitoring and regular assessment of the safety level to be achieved

ICAO Guidelines for Safety Management System

ICAO provides specialized guidance material such as manual on safety management, for fulfilling the Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs).


A State’s safety program manual includes a conceptual framework with the following objectives

  • Managing safety
  • Establishing an SMS
  • Establishing of the systemic processes
  • Establishing activities

In accordance with the provisions of Annexes 6,11 and 14, States shall require that SMS be accepted and implemented by the following:

  • Individual operators
  • Maintenance organizations
  • ATS providers
  • Certified aerodrome operators

Strategic Objective of ICAO on Safety (2005 – 2010)

To enhance civil aviation safety globally, the following measures must be taken:

  • Identify and monitor existing types of safety risk to civil aviation
  • Develop and implement an effective and relevant global response to emerging risks
  • Ensure the timely implementation of ICAO provisions by continuously monitoring the progress toward
  • Conduct aviation safety oversight audits to identify deficiencies and encourage their resolution by States.
  • Develop global remedial plans that target the root causes of deficiencies
  • Assist states to resolve deficiencies through regional remedial plans and the establishment of safety oversight organizations at the regional or sub –regional level
  • Promote mutual confidence in the level of aviation safety by encouraging the exchange of information between states.
  • Accelerate the improvement of safety oversight between States
  • Groups (PIRGs)
  • Support the implementation of safety management systems across all safety – related disciplines in all States
  • Assist States to improve safety through technical cooperation program and by making critical needs known to donors and financial organizations


ICAO Safety Target for 2008 – 2011

The safety target set by ICAO for the year 2008 – 2011 are:

  • Reduce the number of fatal accidents and fatalities worldwide irrespective of the volume of air traffic.
  • Achieve a significant decrease in accident rates, particularly regions where these remain high.
  • Maintaining a target that no single ICAO region shall have an accident rate more than twice the worldwide rate by the end of 2011

Stakeholders in Safety

The stakeholders in Aviation Safety are:

  • Aviation professionals – Flight crew, cabin crew, air traffic controllers (ATCO) and aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs)
  • Aircraft owner and operators
  • Manufactures (especially airframe and engine manufactures)
  • Aviation regulatory authorities – CAA, EASA and ASCENA or DGCA in India)
  • Industry trade associates – IATA, ATA and ACI
  • Regional ATS providers – e.g. EUROCONTROL
  • Professional associations and unions – e.g IFALPA and IFACTCA
  • International aviation organizations – e.g ICAO
  • Investigative agencies – e.g United States NTSB
  • The flying public


Responsibility for Safety

The responsibility for safety and effective safety management is shared among wide spectrum organizations, institutions and agencies such as:

  • International organizations
  • State regulatory authorities for civil aviation
  • Owners and operators
  • Services providers for air navigation services and aerodromes
  • Major aircraft and power plant manufactures
  • Maintenance organizations
  • Industry and professional associations
  • Aviation education and training institutions
  • Third party agencies that provide aviation support services


Functioning Authority

A functioning authority is anyone and everyone working in:

  • The operational areas of airports
  • All areas where an aircraft is parked and handled
  • The aircraft-in-flight

Various other agencies and people providing support to the Airline and Airport operators also form the functional authority.

A Safety Management system is not a fool proof system. Ultimate every functioning authority or the service providers is:

  • Responsible for the safety arrangements
  • Accountable for non compliance of safety procedures


Results of Non- Compliance with Safety Regulations

Non-compliance with the safety regulations will result in serious negative implications such as:

  • Catastrophic aircraft accidents
  • Compensation payment to injured personnel
  • Penalties
  • Loss of revenue following flight delays
  • Damage to aircraft parts or other equipment
  • Loss of reputation
  • Loss of existing and future contracts


Safety Precaution on – board : Flight Operations Briefing Note(FOBN)

Safety precautions on-board contain the following:

  • Proper Crew briefings
  • Awareness of Notices to Airmen (NOTAM)
  • Weather briefing
  • Despatcher Conditions affecting Take-off-performance
  • Load sheet review(Weight and Balance Data)
  • Runway Conditions and Wind
  • NAVAIDS set-up
  • Discussions on deviation from SOPs



Safety Precautions at the Aerobridge area

Passengers board or de-board the aircraft from the aerobridge. Therefore safety precautions must be taken at the aerobridge area such as:

  • The aircraft door must be closed and locked
  • The aircraft and aerobridge canopy auto-leveler must be retracted
  • The aerobridge safety barrier must be raised or the doors should be closed
  • The apron drive bridge must be withdrawn
  • Checks should be made to see that there are no obstructions to the aerobridge movement before the movement commences.


Airside Safety Measures

Personnel working in the aircraft vicinity must implement various airside safety measures such as:

  • Ensuring places of work are safe
  • Maintaining equipments and systems (of work) that will avoid injury to the working personnel
  • Maintaining airports safety to ensure safe aircraft operations and safety to aircraft
  • Operation aircraft safety by following the standard operating procedures
  • Exercising extreme care and precaution to avoid damage to the aircraft
  • Identifying all risks, hazards and steps needed to outline and avoid such risks and hazards.
  • Implementing a Risk Management system that will greatly assist and evaluate the risk, suggest step to avoid or combat the risks.


Guidelines for Ensuring Airside Safety

Safety can be ensured by:

  • Properly planned and maintained airport infrastructure
  • Maintenance of equipments that interface with the aircraft like the aerobridge
  • Software and hardware compatibility
  • Compatibility of On-ground Aids, Aircraft systems and Crew training and awareness
  • Maintenance of all vehicles
  • Trained driver and operator
  • Properly planned and executed aircraft turnarounds
  • Cooperation and coordination of all airport users


Safety Training at the Airport

Everyone employed at the airport must undergo safety training which would include:

  • Induction training
  • General Safety training
  • Safety skills training
  • Refresher training
  • Safety drills


Awareness of safety practices and measures must be created among everyone employed at the airport through awareness programs. The awareness programs will include:

  • Airside services roads
  • Aprons
  • Stands
  • Surface Marking and signs
  • Prohibited Areas / Restricted area
  • Parking areas and restrictions
  • Speed limits and signs
  • Potential hazards

Vigilance at Airport

Though precautionary measures for airside safety are in place at almost all airports, accidents and incidents do take place for no system is fool proof.

Therefore everyone including passengers must:

  • Airside service roads
  • Aprons
  • Stands
  • Surface Marking and signs
  • Prohibited Areas / Restricted area
  • Parking areas and restrictions
  • Speed limits and signs
  • Potential hazards

Vigilance at Airport

Though precautionary measures for airside safety are in place at almost all airports, accidents and incidents do take place for no system is fool proof.

Therefore everyone including passengers must:

  • Keep their eyes and ears open
  • Maintain alertness at all times



  • Airport safety
  • Concept of “safety “ in Aviation
  • Airport safety Management Systems
  • ICAO Guidelines for Safety Management System
  • Strategic Objectives of ICAO on Safety (2005 -2010)
  • ICAO Safety Target for 2008 -2011
  • Stake Holders in safety
  • Responsibility for safety
  • Function Authority
  • Results of Non-Compliance with the safety regulations
  • Safety Precautions on-board: Flight Operation Briefing Note
  • Safety precautions at the Aerobridge area
  • Airside safety measures
  • Guidelines for ensuring Airside safety
  • Safety training at the airport
  • Vigilance at airport