EBACE Convention News

Confusion still reigns over bizav security regs

 - November 29, 2006, 5:04 AM

Despite the fact that the UK, at least, has been enforcing the security rules of European Union Framework Regulation 2320 since it was first published in September 2002–a policy that has been hampering business aviation with some cumbersome and ambiguous security screening procedures–there still seems to be disagreement over whether this is actually an adopted and enforceable rule or merely a proposal up for comment.

At a conference session here at EBACE yesterday, Pedro Vicente Azua, EBAA’s manager of European affairs, said that business aviation is not yet covered by security rules, but that rules are coming.

The thrust of EBAA’s lobbying effort is as follows:

• Identification and validation before boarding are more effective than allowing passengers to board and attempting to deny them the means to do harm.

• Business aviation uses a vast number of departure and arrival points, like the railways; it is an open system, unlike the airline system, which is closed.

• Aircraft weighing more than 5,700 kg [12,500 pounds] and certified for fewer than 20 passengers and weighing less than 45,000 kg [100,000 pounds] mtow should be eligible for alternative security measures.

• All operators should adopt a written security program. Full screening should be required when their passengers penetrate the closed airline system.

• “Known passenger” principles should apply, and the “known/lead passenger” should be required to vouch for all passengers in the group.

• On those rare occasions when a passenger is not known and not validated, the passenger and his baggage should be screened.

But with growing demand for charter flights, can it really be said that it is rare for aircraft operators not to know the passengers they are boarding. This begs the question of whether the business aviation community actually has a plan to stop terrorists from chartering one of their aircraft and using it as a weapon.

As Framework Regulation 2320 undergoes a revision process, a group of member states led by the UK wants aircraft weight to be the prime criterion for alternative measures. The UK has also finally agreed that the operator-client relationship belongs in that criteria, according to Azua.

A smaller group of states has already justified alternative measures, since their assessments have shown that smaller aircraft do indeed pose less of a threat.

Azua further reported here yesterday that the European Commission and its member states have agreed to work on a draft regulation that decides eligibility for alternative measures on weight and “known consignor,” based on an agreement between the operator and client that provides robust security information (validation). Airport size will also be taken into account to determine how security will be carried out.

In conclusion, Azua noted that EC member states are increasingly recognizing that business aviation is already a secure mode of transportation, and he expects the new draft to be on the table after the summer break. In the meantime, EBAA continues its participation in the process.

John Wilson, from the EC’s directorate-general for energy and transport, said that 2320 was drafted to keep weapons out of aircraft and out of security-restricted areas of airports. The commission proposed replacing the regulation in September 2005, he said, and has discussed it in the European Council and Parliament with ministers of the 25 states. He expects a final rule to be adopted late this year or early next.

A framework regulation would set only basic standards for member states to apply–at their own discretion, depending on risk assessment–national measures to protect airports with infrequent commercial flights. He said that in the latest draft of a proposed regulation there is a derogation from common standards, which, depending on risk assessment, allows members to apply alternative measures ensuring adequate protection, when justified by the size of the aircraft or by the nature of its operations.