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Danger on the runway.

CORPORATE AIRCRAFT WERE rarely targeted in the sky-jacking era of the 1960s and 1970s, but more turbulent times lie ahead. Private aviation will be buffeted by rising worldwide crime and the desire of corporate executives to pursue market opportunities in less stable regions, such as the former Soviet Union. Security's mission is to chart a course that allows company profits to soar while keeping perpetrator's plots from getting off the ground.

The challenges are immense. Airports in the new Commonwealth of Independent States, for instance, lack trained controllers, mechanics, fuel, and spare parts. They are also so crime ridden that many chief pilots advise corporate aircraft to avoid staying overnight at these locations.

The problems related to the CIS are also found in many other parts of the world. In January 1993 alone the U.S. State Department issued approximately thirty travel advisory bulletins in Africa generally reflecting high crime rates, civil unrest, limited airport facilities, limited fuel supplies, less than desirable medical assistance, dangerous surface travel, and the lack of consular service.

The rise in criminal activities throughout the Third World increases the threat to corporate aviation. The theft of black boxes and other electronic instruments from the cockpits of corporate jets is still a good day's pay for many citizens in underdeveloped nations. Crime and corruption go hand in hand where the salary of customs or law enforcement officials is low and the temptation to engage in extortion is constant. The demand for protection money as a cost of doing business, and the complicity of local authorities has unfortunately become business as usual at some foreign airports.

Corporate aviation personnel must also be sensitive to the danger that their aircraft may be used as airborne "mules" for drug trafficking. Corporations are subject to the U.S. Customs' Zero Tolerance Policy whereby the company may lose its aircraft and a hard-earned reputation if illegal drugs are found on an aircraft returning from a foreign trip.

Unfortunately, the security manager has been forced into a reactive mode. Because of the pressure of meeting immediate problems, corporate security personnel often fail to engage in a strategic assessment and, therefore, fail to take appropriate actions before a threat becomes critical. It is this type of assessment that is needed in a rapidly changing and unstable international environment.

A corporation can take a number of intraorganizational measures to prevent this from occurring. The first step is a commitment from corporate leadership to provide funding for the recruitment and training of personnel who can effectively meet threats to corporate aviation security. The force should emphasize preventive, not reactive, policies. Cooperation must also exist between the head of the security department and the chief pilot.

Security personnel should draw on the expertise of the flight crew members who can identify potential security problems. All members of the corporation--crew members, the chief executive, and passengers--must develop an awareness of potential threats and learn to follow procedures that can prevent incidents. Security is everyone's responsibility.

The corporation must be knowledgeable about the threats in its operations and develop an independent security program capable of anticipating those threats. A variety of source material should be collected and analyzed to meet the corporation's unique aviation security requirements.

An individual or office should be given the responsibility and training to handle threat assessment analysis. By maintaining files on the political, economic, and social conditions that are potentially threatening to aviation operations, the corporation can take appropriate measures to identify and meet security challenges.

The corporation can develop and refine its procedures to notify appropriate personnel or departments about an impending threat. Developing these procedures does not require highly specialized skills. Any corporation that engages or plans to engage in international operations can draw on its staff to analyze the environment where the corporation is planning to conduct business. Assessment personnel should work closely with corporate security personnel who can identify specific security threats and develop a security profile of the intended areas of operation.

It is absolutely essential that the corporation formulate a security plan that not only addresses the general security requirements of the corporation but also the unique requirements of conducting air operations in potentially dangerous areas. The development of the plan calls for close coordination between corporation threat assessors, the security department, and the aviation department. Again, senior corporate officers must be involved.

The plan should be realistically tested by all concerned personnel through the use of command post exercises or full-scale simulations.(*) Such training should be based on demanding crisis management scenarios that evaluate the capability of the corporation to handle critical situations. Such situations can range from saving an aircraft, crew, and passengers from a violent coup d'etat to identifying and transporting bodies of crash victims.

As the corporation plans to embark on its international operations, preparations must be made to ensure that adequate physical security measures will be taken to shelter the aircraft from potential incidents. The need to protect aircraft, particularly when it must remain overnight anywhere other than home base is vital.

Several security devices and procedures are available that may help protect aircraft. They range from simply ringing the aircraft with lights or using self-destruct number seals at all apertures to installing more sophisticated electronic sound and motion detection systems.

Irrespective of the system, the requirement for crew awareness cannot be understated. The flight crew may bear responsibility for the welfare of passengers and protection of equipment.

The way to reduce the company's exposure is not to curtail air operations. It is to implement a variety of measures to protect aircraft. Failure to recognize this security challenge may find a corporation literally flying blind and paying a Draconian price for its failure to recognize the new security demands.

* For a discussion of the command post exercises technique, see Stephen Sloan, "Developing a Proactive Approach to Crisis Management: Command Post Exercises and the Crucial Role of the Intelligence Function." Security Journal, 2, no. 1, (January 1991).

Harry Pizer is an international corporate aviation consultant based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Stephen Sloan is a professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma in Norman and has consulted on international terrorism and counterterrorism intelligence. They co-authored Corporate Aviation Security: The Next Frontier in Aerospace Operations. Sloan is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Travel Security; corporate aircraft security
Author:Pizer, Harry; Sloan, Stephen
Publication:Security Management
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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