UK Aircraft Terror Plot: Airport Security Evaluation in US
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
Federal intelligence agencies have reported that in the past, terrorists have considered using general aviation aircraft (all aviation other than commercial and military) for terrorist acts, and that the September 11th terrorists learned to fly at general aviation flight schools.
The events unfolding in the United Kingdom with regard to a large-scale terrorist threat to airline security, including the possible use of liquid explosives, reveals the need to contantly review security within the aviation sector.
The questions many security experts now ask include:
(1) What actions has the federal government taken to identify and assess threats to, and vulnerabilities of, general aviation; and communicate that information to stakeholders?
(2) What steps has the federal government taken to strengthen general aviation security, and what, if any, challenges does the government face; and
(3) What steps have non-federal stakeholders taken to enhance the security of general aviation?
The federal and state governments and general aviation industry all play a role in securing general aviation operations. While the federal government provides guidance, enforces regulatory requirements, and provides some funding, the bulk of the responsibility for assessing and enhancing security falls on airport operators.
Although Transportation Security Administration has issued a limited threat assessment of general aviation, and the FBI identified that terrorists have considered using general aviation to conduct attacks, a systematic assessment of threats has not been conducted. In addition, to assess airport vulnerabilities, TSA plans to issue a self-assessment tool for airport operatorsâ€™ use, but it does not plan to conduct on-site vulnerability assessments at all general aviation airports due to the cost and vastness of the general aviation network.
Instead, TSA intends to use a systematic and analytical risk management process, which is considered a best practice, to assess the threats and vulnerabilities of general aviation. However, TSA has not yet developed an implementation plan for its risk management efforts.
TSA and the Federal Aviation Administration have taken steps to address security risks to general aviation through regulation and guidance, but still face challenges in their efforts to further enhance security. For example, TSA has promulgated regulations requiring background checks of foreign candidates for U.S. flight training schools and has issued security guidelines for general aviation airports. However, investigators found limitations in the process used to conduct compliance inspections of flight training programs.
In addition, FAA, in coordination with TSA and other federal agencies, has implemented airspace restrictions over certain landmarks and special events. However, FAA has not established written policies or procedures for reviewing and revalidating the need for flight restrictions that limit access to airspace for indefinite periods of time and could negatively
affect the general aviation industry.
Non-federal general aviation stakeholders have partnered with the federal government and have individually taken steps to enhance general aviation security. For example, industry associations developed best practices and recommendations for securing general aviation, and have partnered with TSA to develop security initiatives such as the Airport Watch Program, similar to a neighborhood watch program. Some state governments have also provided funding for enhancing security at general aviation airports, and many airport operators GAO surveyed took steps to enhance security such as installing fencing and increasing police patrols.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), along with other federal agencies, state governments, and the general aviation industry, plays a role in securing general aviation operations.
While the federal government provides guidance on threats and vulnerabilities, enforces regulatory requirements, and provides some funding assistance, because of competing needs of commercial aviation security funding and the vastness and diversity of the general aviation network, the bulk of the responsibility for assessing and enhancing security falls on airport operators.
This public/private partnership has been strengthened following the terrorist attacks of September 11, in part, through the teaming of TSA and general aviation industry associations by means of the Aviation Security Advisory Committee, which, among other things, helped develop security guidelines for general aviation airports based on industry’s best practices.
Sources: Transportation Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security, American Society for Industrial Security, National Security Institute, National Association of Chiefs of Police
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at http://jimkouri.us
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.