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25th meeting of the ECAC Security Forum

ERA attended European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) SF/25, the 25th meeting of the ECAC Security Forum, at the offices of ICAO in Paris on 19-20 June. The meeting, attended by representatives from all ECAC Member States, regulatory bodies and industry associations, discussed current security developments and future initiatives.

Aviation security is a core activity of ECAC and its work in this area focusses on ensuring security measures are in place to protect civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference. This includes security provisions at national and airport level in addition to specific baseline measures for securing airports, aircraft, passengers, cabin baggage, hold baggage, cargo, in-flight and airport supplies.

Day one of the SF25 meeting commenced with a welcome address from the new Security Forum Chairperson, Ms Carla Pinto of Portugal, who welcomed all the representatives from ECAC Member States, regulatory bodies and associations. A tour de table session followed where both ECAC member and observer states were invited to share their key projects undertaken during 2018 and on the key challenges faced in the implementation of security measures. Such projects and challenges included:

  • cyber security;
  • potential of a biological attack using powders;
  • security training;
  • insider threat; and
  • developments in airport baggage screening equipment.

Observer organisations were then invited to discuss their key areas of focus, with Chris Mason, ERA Manager Policy & Technical, outlining concerns over the developing threat of cyber on the industry, the use of drones as a means of bypassing security checkpoints, GPS jamming/spoofing and the need for more enhanced understanding of behavioural detection techniques.

The Chairs of the various ECAC Study Groups (SG) then provided the meeting with an update on the status of implementation of the expected deliverables included in their respective 2018 work programmes. The Cyber Security SG is in the process of creating a new security culture document on how stakeholders can develop a more robust IT security culture. Additionally, a joint study group is being created to explore the aspects of cyber on security screening equipment. The Behaviour Detection SG continues to encourage mentoring initiatives with four ECAC Member States currently mentoring five other states. The overall goal is for this SG to develop an awareness programme that will enable end users to see, evaluate and react. To assist, the ECAC Behaviour E-Learning tool is undergoing development for ECAC Member States for use at national level and will provide guidance on suspicious behavioural indicators and what to do when a threat is identified. Finally, the Explosive Detection Dogs SG announced that the responses from a survey sent out to Member States of this particular SG are currently being analysed. When this phase is complete, a new version of survey based on the replies will be forwarded to all the ECAC Member States.

Day two of the meeting focussed on a debate regarding the concept of security culture. The debate commenced with presentations from three ECAC Member States covering what they do regarding safety culture. Sweden advised how annual security inspections are undertaken to examine airport security programmes, documents, instructions and procedures etc., with security personnel also being interviewed on how communication, instructions and responsibilities are perceived. The United Kingdom explained that without a good security culture, unintentional security breaches are likely to be more frequent and outlined how the UK Security Executive Group (SEG) brings together people who have the authority to take decisions about the security measures that should be put in place. The SEG includes senior representatives from the airport operator, the local police force, the local police authority and airlines operating at the airport. Finally, Singapore provided an interesting overview of their Threat-Oriented Passenger Screening Integrated System (TOPSIS) initiative. TOPSIS is designed to train security staff at Singapore Changi airport the telltale indicators to look for with suspicious behaviour. Whistleblowing is encouraged with a hotline for reporting suspicious incidents. Finally, it was interesting to learn that all 65,000 airport pass holders associated with Changi airport undergo security awareness training.

The meeting concluded that aviation remains an attractive target for terrorists and those individuals with malicious intent to cause harm or disruption to the industry. Airport workers both airside and landside should be actively encouraged to engage in security culture, especially as terrorists are indiscriminate targeting both passengers and airport workers, therefore all airport employees must be encouraged to identify and report suspicious behaviour.

Additionally, any reports of suspicious behaviour must be followed up and feedback provided, regardless of whether the threat was real or benign.

The next meeting of the ECAC Security Forum (SF/26) will be in Paris on 15–16 October.