The US Government Accountability Office has issued a report that states airport perimeter security and access control security would ‘benefit from risk assessment and strategy updates’, following a string of complaints from both passengers and airport personnel, which could potentially create ‘dangerous vulnerability’ for the aviation system across the entire country.
The report also states that the TSA is, and should be, responsible for setting minimum standards in place for airports of all sizes. According to the Government Accountability Office, the TSA has failed to update its policies to reflect the current and potential threats to the commercial aviation system.
Airport perimeter security and access breaches appear to be on the increase, which defeats the purpose of extensive analysis when no action is taken to make improvements.
Providers of physical security solutions, including airport perimeter security and access control systems, work with customers to identify and prioritise gaps in security to tailor solutions to facility-specific requirements.
Read the full report from the GAO here.
The U.S. Senate have agreed to approve new airport security measures following the bombings at Brussels Airport, it has been announced.
As a part of its initiative to fund the FAA, the Senate bill will include an increase in airport perimeter security, increased measures to screen airport personnel and the additional presence of authority-trained dogs, as well as the introduction of random, unannounced security tests of security systems in airports.
The news is welcomed by the TSA, who will conduct random testing, and has recently introduced an increase of visibility for key security staff, and has approved the transfer of security officers from large airports to increase cover in smaller airports.
Providers of facility and airport security systems also welcome the changes, as the introduction of enhanced technology delivers effective means of increased surveillance and information management for relatively low investment in infrastructure.
AVSEC, this year’s IXG aviation security conference will be held in Dubai over two days – 16th and 17th September – and will discuss the latest security needs and requirements of the aviation industry in an exploration of how technology today can enhance the industry’s ability to meet the growing challenges in this sector.
Key topics will include an assessment of ‘new and evolving threats to civil aviation’, developments in technology, cyber security, emergency response and crisis management, ways to maintain a motivated security workforce and, perhaps most importantly for some, passenger processing and handling in a discussion entitled ‘Integrated Design for Aviation Security Systems’.
Throughout the world, aviation security systems are becoming increasingly automated, and there is a growing demand within the security sector for additional physical security equipment and systems to cope with the growth in passenger numbers. Providers of physical security systems for aviation are under pressure to provide systems integrating physical and cyber security measures for comprehensive protection against the threat of attack.
Keeping airport perimeter security tight is a problem that is consistently rearing its head, particularly as security technology companies come up with more advanced sensors, software and motion detection solutions that the ‘men on the ground’ maintain are still not enough.
The high cost of advanced detection technology often prices smaller airports out of this market, but when faced with 268 counts of perimeter breach in US airports in ten years, the issue is clearly a critical one.
Airport perimeter security breaches consist primarily of people climbing over, crawling under or even driving vehicles through the fences that surround the airport. It is the airport’s responsibility to protect the perimeters, while the TSA handle the passenger and baggage screening.
Government officials are raising concerns over perimeter breaches and calling for upgrades to security equipment to reduce the risks. Congressman Eric Swalwell said, “Porous airport perimeters are major vulnerabilities that terrorists could exploit. I’m continuing to call for airports to use technologies that would alert officials the moment a perimeter is breached.”
As every airport differs in their surroundings, there is no single answer to increase security around airport perimeters. Many airport security personnel believe that increasing numbers of security personnel, coupled with an increase in high tech solutions would reduce instances of breach attempts, but staffing levels and funding variables make it difficult to apply the changes across the board.
Following a recent lecture arranged by the Aviation Security Department of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, security personnel compiled a list of new operational equipment that they say is needed to improve security to a level that can help to combat threats to nationwide aviation security.
The equipment list contains state-of-the-art screening facilities including scanners, operational vehicles and communications equipment in addition to a request for the installation of closed circuit television cameras.
Speaking through Mr Wendel Ogunedo, the director of aviation security for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, the aviation security officers have expressed their concern over the trend of inadequacy in the areas of personnel training and obsolete technology in the wake of a growing threat to national security that is not unique to Nigeria.
In order for them to respond adequately, the security officers say that advancements must be made to upgrade their equipment and recruit additional personnel. Mr Ogunedo agreed and said the task of securing the airport from ‘unlawful interference by unauthorised persons’ would be best carried out with the addition of 1500 security personnel.
All across the globe, aviation security is under threat. Airports and other critical facilities can ensure security only with adequate equipment and personnel to undertake what is becoming a major, worldwide concern.
A recent inspection of Delhi Airport perimeter security by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has raised concerns to the point that they have refused to take over the system unless it becomes ‘totally flawless’. The system seems to be fraught with technical problems which have caused false alarms and intermittent CCTV capture.
This is not the first inspection that has failed at the airport, in spite of approximately Rs 5 crore being spent on ‘improvements’. The CISF have met with airport officials around 50 times and so far, there are no changes. This final meeting has resulted in the CISF to demand of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) that either the system be deactivated or a solution finally provided for the perimeter security.
G M Siddeswara, the Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation had informed parliament that the system was flawless, but this is disputed by the CISF.
The CISF referred to a recent airport intrusion where perimeter security was compromised and said, “When that happened on Thursday the CISF personnel saw the intruder but the CCTV didn’t capture any image. And in case of every intrusion, CISF personnel could notice the intruder only after 15 minutes. Now we have asked BCAS to uninstall the system if DIAL cannot address the issues. The system has become a liability. The system is supposed to instantly raise alarm if someone tries to fiddle with the taut wire. Also, the camera should immediately focus on that spot without loss of time. DIAL should ensure that system doesn’t generate any false alarm.”
With current security measures tightening across airport environments all over the world, the matter must be settled with a viable solution for perimeter security implemented. The perimeter fencing is, in many cases, the first barrier to potential intrusion and critical to maintaining a secure facility.
As the aviation industry reels in shock as a teenage stowaway breaches airport perimeter fencing to board an aircraft bound for Maui, even more serious questions are raised about airport security. Video surveillance footage clearly shows the boy make his way across the tarmac and climb into the wheel well of the plane, yet it was missed.
Since 9/11, airport security has been stepped up, or so we thought. There are increasing numbers of airport breaches being reported, articles claiming that passport checks are not being accurately carried out and monitoring equipment not being monitored.
Holes in security are most certainly there. Although security cameras are installed, they must be manned consistently to be effective. Airport perimeter fencing is more effective at keeping animals from the runway than people, it is said.
Officials are concerned and according to the New York Times, portions of the fencing at the airport are falling down in places.
Two separate incidents of an airport perimeter security breach on Christmas Day have highlighted the importance of effective surveillance – industry-wide.
Each incident happened at different airports – one at Newark International, where a man breached the airport perimeter security fence and remained undetected as he crossed two runways to reach a terminal before being spotted by an airline employee.
The second incident occurred at Phoenix Sky Harbor International later that day. The man scaled a nine-foot high fence and ran onto the tarmac waving his arms at a plane before being captured by airport security.
Although both airports had airport perimeter security surveillance, neither detected signs of the trespassers.
Questions have now been raised, especially as the Transport Security Administration has no mandate in place for the requirement of full-time surveillance of airport perimeter security fences.
This appears not to be an isolated problem. There is an industry-wide call for greater importance to be addressed for airport perimeter security.