Highlighting a concern that security in aviation operations involves much more than just protecting the airport environment, the University of Southern California (USC) Aviation and Security Program is developing an app that can guide industry on establishing security protocols. Speaking this week at the Bombardier Safety Standdown, USC Aviation Safety and Security Program director Thomas Anthony underscored the importance of business aviation operators ensuring security at their passengers' destinations.
Anthony, a former top FAA security official who served as point person on a number of high-profile terrorist event investigations, including Egypt Air 990 and the World Trade Center II attacks, outlined a history of attacks over the past decade, including some of the most well organized and funded events that have led to the loss of hundreds of lives.
In 2017 alone, 2,017 attacks occurred, he said. Nine involved more than 100 deaths. They were concentrated at the beginning of the year and in the summer, and many involved symbolic places or took place during symbolic events at “soft” (unarmed) targets. But despite generalizations, risks are constantly evolving, requiring business aviation operators to be prepared. “The flight crewmembers are security assets,” he said.
USC has developed a “PRIFISE” operational risk assessment protocol that Anthony said essentially condenses ICAO Annex 17 and TSA directives into a simple, usable approach to developing a plan. PRIFISE is an acronym for planning; roles and rules; intelligence; fences, gates, and barriers; identification of friend or foe; search and screening; and emergency response.
The plan, he said, must start with an objective and have the ability to evolve to changing security needs and threats. With roles, a point of contact must be determined, as well as a person in charge. On intelligence gathering, he suggested checking with U.S. State Department advisories, the CIA World Factbook, and other sources internationally.
As for developing barriers, he said they could be physical or even create the appearance of security when necessary. Just having a person present for observation could provide a level of security. Identification, meanwhile, involves not only the people known in the operation, but those in the area. He showed a photo taken just before a shooting in the baggage area at Fort Lauderdale airport with a gunman extending a firearm—not yet shooting—and people behind him who appeared oblivious to this fact.
This also goes in tandem with screening and surveying risky areas, and making travel plans accordingly. And, in case of an event, the operation must be prepared for emergency response, including who to contact at international destinations.
An undergraduate student developed a cartoon to explain the PRIFISE concept, which is available on YouTube. But Anthony added that the program is working on an app to help provide guidance on the protocol.