From Karachi to Brussels and then to Istanbul, a series of terrorist attacks on airports in recent years has made it mandatory for all the stakeholders to concentrate on the risks that passengers, as well as the aviation industry, are facing, and to improve landside security at the Airports. Presently what is happening is that airport security is more inclined towards the security of the airside or the restricted area of the airports.
Recent attacks at the airports mostly took place at the landside. There is a dire need to address these new challenges to ensure that airports are kept safe from all threats. In the face of the prevailing geopolitical situation and the regional environment with special reference to threat situations all over the world, it is pertinent to remain well prepared at all times to thwart any attempt of terrorist/criminal act at the airports all over the world.
Aviation security mainly focusses on the airside spaces which are accessible only to passengers who hold a valid boarding pass and to security cleared staff. Landside spaces that are accessible to the general public are subject to general security enacted by national authorities. It is therefore up to our authorities to review and coordinate with airports to identify the appropriate measures that match their specific threat scenario.
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
A new set of standards regarding landside security are included in Amendment 15 to Annex 17 of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation. This requires all the member States.
- To ensure that landside areas are identified.
- That measures are in place to mitigate and prevent attacks based on risk assessment.
- That measures are appropriately coordinated.
- That responsibilities are allocated within a State’s national civil aviation security programmer.
What is Landside?
This may vary from country to country and from airport to airport, based on their Risk Assessments and Threat Analysis. Landside can be the following:
- Drop lanes/pick up lanes
- Car parks
- Approach roads
- Adjoining areas
- Funnel areas
- Areas beyond perimeter fence
Concept of Aviation Security in Pakistan
Based on threat assessment, aviation security in Pakistan is based on visible deterrence, layered security and multiple checks to pre-empt and counter the threats by employing all the available resources in terms of men and material. The basic method to counter threats at any airport has and will continue to be intelligence gathering, information sharing, and visible surveillance. However, there are several other measures and facility design features that can mitigate these security threats. The success of any operation can be attributed to the following key factors:
Professionalism at Operational Procedures: Professionalism is, knowing your job, knowing how to do it, then doing it and doing it well. Strict adherence to all the SOPs and instructions based on ICAO Security manual and Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) contained in Annex 17 of Chicago Convention. This is only much possible through Intensive practical oriented training of all the staff on operational procedures and no complacency is accepted.
Contingency Plans and Regular Mock Exercises: Based on threat assessment, contingency plans have to be prepared to cover all possible eventualities. They should be rehearsed as mock exercises regularly along with all the stakeholders who have to play their part in the contingency. By doing this, plans are improved in terms of response timings and response procedures. It has to be done regularly to make it a second habit so everything is done systematically within the shortest possible time and without any delay of orders and instructions from superiors.
Mobility and Communication: The success of any operation is based on quick passage of information and reaching the point of the incident in the shortest possible time. This is achieved through better communication system and availability of robust vehicles.
Establishment of EOC: An Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has to be established at the scene of the emergency. The EOC is used for coordination and the overall direction of responding forces in emergencies. Every emergency should have an incident commander, who will manage the incident by planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, controlling, communicating, delegating, and evaluating the incident. The incident commander for every emergency will be different depending upon the type of emergency. The basic concept is to include an integrated communications system and a unified command structure the designated incident facilities, and utilization of comprehensive resource management.
Design of Security Infrastructure: For any airport, the design of PTB (Passenger Terminal Building) should incorporate the following:
- Use materials to minimize damage through blast proofing as well as with shatterproof glass.
- Bollards, flowerpots and other structures should be included in the design infrastructure to prevent drive in attacks.
- Separation of vehicle drop off and pick up points from PTB to ensure smooth traffic flow.
- Space management to reduce bulk gatherings of people.
- Enforcing the policy of one meter and greeter at the airport.
Measures to Mitigate Threat at the Airports
The methodology used at the airports to combat terrorism differs from country to country based on their risk assessments and the geopolitical situation. Keeping in view the present scenario, where terrorism is no more a regional issue and has rather become a global issue, the following are the measures which must be adopted by all the countries:
- Profiling and Monitoring: This gives an extra edge to security personnel over any possible attacker to encounter him well beforehand. Carrying out profiling, surveillance and monitoring through patrols and CCTV requires a well-thought-out plan and adoption of laid down procedures along with intensive training to a level that many countries have not yet achieved.
- Layered Security and Multiple Checks: To counter any attack from landside, the best way is to have layered security and multiple checks of security, to create hurdles and gain time for reserves to react to any threat and keeping the possible attackers away from the terminal building, runway and apron. This is an approach that is very effective and tested at airports in Pakistan. This layer is as under:
- Profiling and physical checking of vehicles at the vehicle entry point.
- Vehicle scanners
- UVIS (Under Vehicle Inspection System)
- Terminal entry and checking of travel documents
- All baggage is checked along with body search through WTMD (Walk through Metal Detector) for security, customs and drug control at first security checkpoint.
- All hold baggage is checked through EDS-CT (Explosive Detection System – Computed Tomography) X-Ray Machines at the second security checkpoint
- All hand baggage is checked along with body search through WTMD for security, before entering into the departure lounge at the third security checkpoint.
- The boarding pass is checked before entering into aircraft at tunnel entry to aircraft.
- Security of all the aircraft at the apron
- Second line of defense in terms of dug out trenches in between perimeter and runway.
- Induction of Modern Weapons: It is necessary to equip security personnel with most sophisticated and effective weapons to counter any threat, as terrorists have open choices to use any type of weapon at will. Therefore, all security personnel at the airport should have most modern and effective multiple weapons with sufficient ammunition.
- Strong Reserves/QRFs: To respond to any eventuality at any place at the airport, it is necessary to plan and deploy strong reserves and QRFs (Quick Reaction Forces). These should be well located and spread over the area with clear identification of area of operations so that quick and effective response is achieved. Their responses are rehearsed on a regular basis through planned as well as surprise mock exercises. They should have well-defined area of operation as their primary task. As a secondary task, they should supplement adjoining area.
- Robust Vehicles: Good and robust vehicles should be deployed for quick reaction having bulletproof protection, to reach as close to the point of incident as possible in shortest possible time.
- Perimeter Intrusion Detection System: It is not necessary that attack will always be from the main entry point. It can be from any side including perimeter. So, it is necessary to have layered fencing around airport perimeter for early detection of intrusion and to gain time for QRFs to react. The Perimeter Intrusion Detection System (PIDS) is a multilayered structure composed of following layers supported by Fixed, PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) and TI (Thermal Image) Cameras:
- Layer-1: Fiber Optic Intrusion System (FOIS)
- Layer-2: Safe Corridor Microwave Detection System.
- Layer-3: Non-Lethal Electric Fence (NLEF)
- Layer-4: CCTV Cameras with Centralized Control (PTZ, Fix and TI)
- Layer-5: Computerized Access Control at Entry/Exit.
- Extension of Area of Jurisdiction to adjoining areas: Area adjoining the airport including funnel area should be effectively covered with the physical presence of security personnel through foot and mobile patrolling and technical coverage through CCTV, for countering any threat from any direction. This should also include identifying hotspots for possible locations of MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defence System).
- Coordination between LEAs for Security around airports: At the airport, the first responder to any eventuality is Airport Security, but to have second and third tier response from LEAs (Law Enforcement Agencies), it is necessary to have better coordination with all the LEAs operating outside the perimeter of an Airport. The number and location of the troops deployed outside perimeter at static check posts on approach roads and patrolling of area outside perimeter should be known to airport security.
- Enhanced landside security measures:
- Increase the physical presence of security personnel at landside.
- Regular vetting of all the employees working at landside.
- Random screening of passengers and baggage.
- Increased CCTV monitoring for landside security and terminal security.
- High visibility patrol strategies to increase passenger awareness of police presence and creating visible deterrence.
The Government of Pakistan has taken major steps to improve the security of our aviation borders and international airports.
We have enhanced the capacity of our troops with extensive on the job training, regular mock exercises based on contingencies and with modern and effective weapons. We have improved our landside security through state of the art security system at the perimeter and increased screening capability through procurement of cargo and car scanners. Airports need to implement a layered, sophisticated approach to security that allows the routes to airports to become part of the security solution.
Random screening and spot checks at airports provide additional security layers and may prove more effective than permanent infrastructure.
The international airports in Pakistan are now much safer. As compared to other airports in the world and considering the threats we have, we can never be complacent of our security procedures. The Airport Security Force (ASF) is highly trained, well equipped and resilient enough to thwart any attempt of terrorist act at the airports.