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Latest meeting of the ECAC Security Forum

The European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) SF/27 was the 27th meeting of the ECAC Security Forum, held in Lisbon on 28 May. 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.

Debate on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)

The debate commenced with presentations from the representatives on behalf of Portugal, Spain. Turkey and the UK, who shared their experiences regarding the detection and protection of airports and airspace from the threat of RPAS. The common theme focussed on how RPAS pose a serious threat to airport infrastructure with the cost of disruption from recent events, including London Gatwick, being a prime example. Detection, identification, tracking and where necessary, neutralising, are the four basic components of a counter-drone system that airports need to put in place. Although such technology exists, it is costly and depending on the characteristics of the airport, can be too complex to implement. Additionally, the level of threat from airport to airport varies greatly, for example a remote/regional airport may present a lower risk target compared to a major international hub. However, ERA argued that the threat criteria be applied uniformly, regardless of the volume of traffic/size of airport, as both regional and wide-bodied commercial aircraft are at risk. Finally, who makes the decision to close an airport during a suspected drone sighting and then re-open are also pertinent questions as many stakeholders will be affected, including the airport authority, airlines, local police and ATC and so on.

Tour-de-table on work priorities for 2019

A tour-de-table session followed where both ECAC member and observer states were invited to share their main security priorities for 2019 and on the key challenges faced in the implementation of mitigating measures. Such common projects and challenges included:

  • background checks (insider threat) and security culture training;
  • cabin baggage screening systems;
  • cyber security;
  • drones; and
  • unruly passengers.

The observer organisations were then invited to discuss their key security areas of focus. Chris Mason, ERA Manager Policy & Technical, outlined various concerns, including:

  • The use of drones as a means of bypassing airport security checkpoints.
  • Dangerous/banned goods that are incorrectly labelled and transported as cargo.
  • The threat from cyber attack.
  • The carriage of livestock (for example horses) where accompanying handlers are not always ticketed and have access to the flight desk.
  • The EASA ‘not on my flight’ unruly passengers campaign, which ERA co-supported along with many of our members.

Status reports from ECAC Task Forces

The Chairs of the three ECAC Task Forces, namely Guidance Material, Technical and Training, then presented the status of implementation of the expected deliverables included in their respective 2019 work programme. The Guidance Material Task Force advised it is important to avoid duplication of work and this is achieved by working in collaboration with various regulators and member states. For example, the Guidance Material for ETD (Explosive Trace Detectors) screening of people is based on existing ICAO material. The Technical Task Force announced that one of their most important objectives during 2019 is the update of the threat list to include chemical threats and explosives used in attacks.

Status reports from ECAC Study Groups

Due to time constraints, the final session of the forum provided the Chairs of the three ECAC Study Groups, namely Cyber, Behaviour Detection and Explosive Detection Dogs, the opportunity to provide a brief overview on the status of implementation.

The meeting then concluded with the Chairperson thanking all the member state and stakeholder representatives for their valuable participation.

The next (28th) meeting of the ECAC Security Forum (SF/28) will be in Paris on 24–25 October 2019.