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Travel Health & Safety Blog

Preparedness: Holistic Approach to AVSEC

Insight, Preparedness and Assistance together create the appropriate security mind-set required to proactively prepare for – and mitigate – risks.  

The threat environment is ever-changing. The concept of Preparedness is to have a dynamic approach to analysing and assessing all factors related to current aviation operations. 

Operators of all sizes should conduct comprehensive airspace assessments inclusive of ground threats that may impact flight operations at all altitudes. 

Foremost among these threats are surface to air missile systems, notably in present day warzones such as Syria, and the significant proliferation of shoulder-fired anti-air missile systems as well as heavy calibre and small arms fire on approach and departure from airfields in conflict zones and unstable regions. 

The combination of analysis from internal security departments; third party aviation security services; and official governmental and regulatory warnings, notices, advisories, and bulletins help deliver a comprehensive picture of attendant threats, in, over, and adjacent to airspace in use for one’s operations. 

Aviation events, such as the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine; the unintentional shoot-down of a Russian IL-20 reconnaissance plane by Syrian forces in September 2018; and the continued threat to aircraft into and over Libya, are reminders of the need to conduct thorough airspace assessments on a routine basis. 

Operators are increasingly assessing information received from multiple sources like social media and news outlets. However, these open sources often result in conflicting reports or erroneous information. This misinformation can cause significant disruption and delay to operations, as well as put staff and aircraft at risk. 

COMMERCIAL, BUSINESS AND GENERAL AVIATION OPERATORS, AND AIRPORT AUTHORITIES SHOULD SEEK TO CORROBORATE AND VERIFY INFORMATION TO ENABLE SOUND DECISION MAKING. 

Information can be verified via a combination of trusted sources at destination, third party travel security services, and/or government/ regulatory agencies. 

If the verified information poses a risk to operations and/or staff, it is essential to communicate to stakeholders throughout the organisation: a summary of the risk, advice to reduce exposure to the risk, and clear direction as to next steps. 

This information should be communicated in an efficient and timely manner to those directly affected through the use of targeted email alerts and/or other direct communications channels. 

Because crew and staff safety is paramount to flight safety, it is important to also monitor the threat environment outside of the arrival and departing stations. 

Crew hotels may be attractive targets for insurgency groups and terrorist activity. 

Crew travelling internationally may be perceived as easier targets for petty and violent crimes. The human element must be a part of comprehensive security assessments and programmes to reduce exposure to risk. 

Preparedness includes ensuring travelling personnel and risk managers understand vulnerabilities and security risks while travelling to, from, and within a particular region. 

Staff should be provided training on how to reduce their exposure to risks. 

General travel safety training can be provided, as well as area-specific security training if deemed appropriate during the risk assessment. 

Training should be regularly reviewed based upon the evolving nature of the threats being faced and the organisation’s sustainability initiatives. 

Continual training reinforces concepts of situational awareness and provides additional measures of security from the individual through to the organisational level. 

SITUATIONAL AWARENESS SHOULD ALSO EXTEND TO BASIC TRAVEL SAFETY STRATEGIES, INCLUDING ACCEPTABLE GROUND TRANSPORTATION; HOTEL AND LODGING SAFETY; AND ADEQUACY AND AVAILABILITY OF MEDICAL SERVICES AT DESTINATIONS. 

Assessing risks at destinations; communicating actionable advice to aircrew at risk; training staff on personal travel safety; are all key components to Preparedness. 

Learn more about Preparedness and the holistic approach to aviation security.  

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Commercial Aviation Business and General Aviation