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PS752: Foul Play or Technical Malfunction?

by Philip Baum, Editor-in-Chief, Aviation Security International No sooner had the news broken this morning that a Ukraine International Airlines flight, PS752, had crashed shortly after its departure from Teheran for Kiev, speculation erupted on social media that the plane must have been brought down by a missile or some other act of foul play. After all, this was the…

The Loss of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752: a failure of risk management rather than military ‘human error’

by Philip Baum On 8 January 2020, Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 was cleared for take-off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport for its scheduled flight to Kiev. It departed at 06:12, almost an hour behind schedule, but it was never to reach its intended destination. The lives of 167 passengers and 9 crew members were to be extinguished when the…
SWATTING HIJACKERS AWAY: THE HIJACKING OF AIR FRANCE 8969 AND THE GIGN INTERVENTION

SWATTING HIJACKERS AWAY: THE HIJACKING OF AIR FRANCE 8969 AND THE GIGN INTERVENTION

Nowadays, despite being fairly rare occurrences, hijackings are still one of the main threats to civil aviation, and have become particularly concerning following the attacks of 11 September 2001. The seizure of aircraft, especially of national flag carriers, has long been viewed as an attack against the state in which they are registered. December 2019 marks the 25th…
Aviation Security: A Crisis of Confidence by Andy Blackwell

Aviation Security: A Crisis of Confidence by Andy Blackwell

In the near quarter century that I’ve been working in aviation security, I’ve seen significant changes to the threat landscape and the methods used by government and industry to keep the sector secure. I’ve been heavily involved in the responses to major terrorist attacks against aviation, including 9/11, Operation Overt (the liquid explosives plot), the printer…

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1 DECEMBER 2019: BAFUT, CAMEROON

Anglophone separatists, who believe that commercial flights are being used to transport weapons and the army, opened fire on Camair-Co flight QC272 whilst it was on approach to Bamenda Airport from Douala. The Camair Xian MA60 aircraft landed safely and there were no reported injuries, but the fuselage on the aircraft was damaged. Anglophone separatists located in the west of Cameroon wish to split from the rest of the French speaking country and create their own country called Ambazonia.

16 NOVEMBER 2019: LASHIO, MYANMAR

Lashio Airport was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades. Six shells were fired, four of which exploded damaging a building and vehicle at the airport. One person was injured. It is believed the attack was conducted by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.

17 OCTOBER 2019: CAMPINAS, BRAZIL

An armed robbery took place at the cargo terminal at Viracopos Airport. Over a dozen suspects fled the airport in SUVs. The police intercepted the suspects when they moved from their SUVs into a garbage truck and a shootout ensued. Two of the suspects stole police cars and fled the scene. Police eventually confronted them and shot and killed them. Another suspect held a woman and her toddler hostage in their house; he was killed by a sniper.

16 OCTOBER 2019: ODESSA, UKRAINE

Airport terminal screens at Odessa Airport were hacked. The screens displayed images of the environmentalist Greta Thunberg along with the words ‘F*** You, Greta!’.

14 NOVEMBER 2019: LONDON, ENGLAND

Jose Martin Encarnacion Flores, 53, Reynaldo Willy Weston, 66, and Juan Gabriel Romero Hernandez, 55, were sentenced for stealing from passengers at Heathrow, London City and Stansted Airports over the space of a week in September. The thefts took place on 6 September at London City and Heathrow, on 9 and 12 September at Heathrow, and on 10 September at Stansted. Using distraction methods, the gang were able to steal approximately £82,000 worth of goods. The three men were sentenced to jail. Flores and Weston were imprisoned for four years and six months, and Hernandez was imprisoned for four years and 10 months.

12 NOVEMBER 2019: MANCHESTER, ENGLAND

Diane Gill, 57, was sentenced for her drunken behaviour on a Thomas Cook flight from Manchester to the Dominican Republic in May 2018. Gill was abusive to passengers and staff after a fellow passenger complained about the excessively amorous way in which she was kissing her partner. She was handed a three-month prison sentence that was suspended for a year.

5 NOVEMBER 2019: VOLGOGRADM, RUSSIA

Sergey Kucherenko, 32, was sentenced for calling in a false bomb threat against Volgograd Airport on 10 January in order to stop his girlfriend from leaving him. He was handed a suspended sentence of 25 months. Kucherenko and his girlfriend married after the incident.

21 OCTOBER 2019: MANCHESTER, ENGLAND

Benjamin Hoyle, 35, was sentenced for being abusive at Manchester Airport before he was due to catch his Ryanair flight to Ibiza on 19 June. Hoyle, a Royal Marine, was drunk, abusive and used offensive slurs towards Swissport employees who confronted him, telling an employee of Asian descent that he was the reason he was fighting in Afghanistan and calling another ‘queer’. He was handed a 12-month community order, instructed to complete 130 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £50 in compensation to his victims and £135 in costs and surcharges.

28 OCTOBER 2019: ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA

Aksaychanin, 40, was sentenced to three years’ conditional imprisonment after he called an airline call centre and made a false bomb threat to Platov Airport in August whilst drunk.

26 NOVEMBER 2019: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Hundreds of protestors demonstrated at Los Angeles International Airport against LSG Sky Chefs and their subsidiary Gate Gourmet. Roads leading to the airport were closed as the protests disrupted traffic. The catering workers demanded higher wages and better healthcare benefits. Sixteen protestors were arrested.

21 NOVEMBER 2019: ICELAND

A former service manager of Isavia, the airport and air navigation services provider based at Keflavik Airport, was accused of accepting 3.5million ISK (c. £22,000) in bribes from a technology company to secure deals regarding parking tickets. The CEO of the technology company allegedly made a 4.5 million ISK (c. £28,430) profit from the deal and was also arrested. The bribes were discovered on an Excel spreadsheet file listed as being ‘consulting fees’.

19 NOVEMBER 2019: TIRANA, ALBANIA

Police were able to recover part of the 6 million euros that were stolen by a gang from Rinas Airport in April 2019. 5,000 euros (c. £4,260) were uncovered from one of the suspects, Elton Pikli, and another undisclosed amount was found with the father of another suspect, Renaldo Sula.

2 NOVEMBER 2019: ATLANTA, GEORGIA

A threatening note was found on an American Airlines flight at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport before it was due to take off to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

29 NOVEMBER 2019: PENSACOLA, FLORIDA

A female passenger faked a medical emergency on an American Airlines flight from Pensacola International Airport to Miami. During the flight she claimed she could not breathe properly which caused the flight to be diverted back to Pensacola. The woman later admitted to authorities she had feigned ill health in order to try and get a bigger seat.

21 NOVEMBER 2019: EDMONTON, CANADA

A passenger on a Jazz flight from Yellowknife refused to sit down whilst the aircraft was on its final approach to Edmonton resulting in the pilots having to abort landing.

21 NOVEMBER 2019: BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI

An unruly passenger on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Bujumbura and Kigali made a false bomb threat as the flight was due to land in Bujumbura.

19 NOVEMBER 2019: EDMONTON, CANADA

A passenger was removed from a WestJet flight, preparing to depart for Vancouver, for being verbally abusive towards flight attendants.

29 NOVEMBER 2019: CAIRO, EGYPT

A Cairo Airport cafeteria worker was arrested after he allegedly groped an American passenger as she left the bathroom before she was due to fly to Italy.

1 DECEMBER 2019: TEL AVIV, ISRAEL

An undercover airport security officer, aged 24, was beaten at Ben Gurion Airport for asking to see a police officer’s ID. The police officer first refused, then showed his ID but later returned with three other police officers, who took the undercover officer to a side room and attacked him.

29 NOVEMBER 2019: TEL AVIV, ISRAEL

A man approached a clerk working at Ben Gurion Airport and claimed to have a bomb around his body. When the clerk went to inform security services the man stole her money, credit cards and ID from her bag. He was later arrested and found to have no bomb on him.

25 NOVEMBER 2019: DHAKA, BANGLADESH

Reports emerged that a restricted area at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, known as the Middle Marker, is being used by locals for recreational and antisocial activities, including dumping garbage and planting vegetation. The Middle Marker area contains lights, transmitters, cables and antennas and is used by pilots to determine their positioning as they approach the runway. Locals can access the area as the boundary walls are damaged and there is lack of security manpower to patrol the area. This has led to damage to the airport’s equipment.

26 NOVEMBER 2019: GASMATA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA

A charter airline, Tropicair, was refuelling in Gasmata when it was commandeered by eight men armed with guns and knives. The men forced the pilot to take off from Gasmata and land at an unused airstrip at Cape Matis where they stole the cargo and luggage from the flight and fled. There were no passengers on board and the pilot and aircraft were not harmed.

24 FEBRUARY 2019: CHATTOGRAM, BANGLADESH

Palash Ahmed attempted to hijack a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight en route to Dubai from Dhaka, with a scheduled stopover in Chattogram (Chittagong). It was initially reported that Ahmed was carrying a gun and explosives and that he had fired two shots. Later, it was found that the gun and explosives were fake and that the shot sounds were caused by “cracker-like substances”. Ahmed demands were to speak to his wife and to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina about his wife. When the plane landed in Chattogram, Special Forces negotiated the release of all passengers and crew. When the hijacker refused to leave, the authorities launched an eight-minute raid to remove him from the aircraft, resulting in Ahmed being shot. He later died from his injuries.

4 FEBRUARY 2019: KHARTOUM, SUDAN

A Sudanese deportee attempted to hijack Tarco-Air flight 103 en route from Cairo to Khartoum. Crew managed to restrain the man and the flight continued safely to its intended destination.

31 JANUARY 2019: NAPAKIAK, ALASKA

A 16-year-old attempted to hijack a Yute Commuter Service plane during its four-minute flight from Napakiak to Bethel. The teenager, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of the Piper Cherokee, briefly grabbed the plane’s yoke causing the plane to dive towards the ground. A female passenger sitting behind the teenager was able to restrain him, allowing the pilot to regain control of the flight and return to Napakiak.

4 FEBRUARY 2019: KHARTOUM, SUDAN

A Sudanese deportee attempted to hijack Tarco-Air flight 103 en route from Cairo to Khartoum. Crew managed to restrain the man and the flight continued safely to its intended destination.

The Final Word

A Personal View expressed by Steve Wolff

A Personal View expressed by Steve Wolff

Let’s be honest, AVSEC screening technology has stagnated. CT technology was first deployed in the early 1990s and body scanners appeared in airports ten years ago. In the meantime, other indust...

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