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The Challenge for Aviation Security Professionals Post-COVID-19 by Geoffrey D. Askew AM

The Challenge for Aviation Security Professionals Post-COVID-19 by Geoffrey D. Askew AM

On 21 March 2020, COVID-19 was officially declared to be a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, and it continues to have a catastrophic impact on different sectors of the global economy, particularly the aviation industry. The true extent of the economic damage sustained by the wider aviation industry to date is unknown. Yes, airports and airlines have been…
Xenophobia and Racism: INCIDENTAL THREATS TO AVIATION

Xenophobia and Racism: INCIDENTAL THREATS TO AVIATION

The panic and fear created by COVID-19 have stigmatised certain groups, reinforced negative stereotypes and fuelled hate. The pandemic is also a boon to the extreme right-wing ideology that has become the fastest growing driver of extremist violence in the West. With travel restrictions in force and flight numbers down, the aviation sector is unlikely to bear the brunt of…
STRIP SEARCH: OPERATIONAL PROTOCOLS WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS

STRIP SEARCH: OPERATIONAL PROTOCOLS WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS

What should the checkpoint response be when either a technology alarms – indicating the potential presence of a prohibited/restricted item – or concerns exist about a passenger or employee and, in either case, the physical pat-down search does not reveal any item? Technology can only go so far; ultimately it is up to a human being to make a decision based on a full…
REPURPOSING TECHNOLOGY: WHEN EXPLOSIVE DETECTION MORPHS INTO VIRUS DETECTION

REPURPOSING TECHNOLOGY: WHEN EXPLOSIVE DETECTION MORPHS INTO VIRUS DETECTION

The current coronavirus epidemic has changed the way in which we live our lives, but it has also provided us with an opportunity to innovate. Manufacturing plants around the globe are reinventing themselves, and their production lines have been adapted to assemble goods their workforces could not have imagined producing six months ago. Ventilators for intensive care units,…
AIRPORT SCREENING: IN AN ERA OF SOCIAL DISTANCING

AIRPORT SCREENING: IN AN ERA OF SOCIAL DISTANCING

The coronavirus pandemic, which continues to unfold, has had a staggering impact on air travel and airport security, with the potential for its effects to be felt for some time to come. Yet the crisis also presents the industry with opportunities to trial new processes and, as Richard Thompson sets out, to fast-track safe and effective technological advancements from the…

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15 JUNE 2020: CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE

A Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority meeting being conducted over teleconferencing app, Zoom, was cut short after it was hacked into and interrupted with expletives and a pornographic video.

24 MAY 2020: NEPAL

A hacker named ‘Ghost057-5P3C706’ hacked the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority’s website and put an image of the Indian flag on it. The hacker also wrote ‘Just because we are silent and we don’t react doesn’t mean we didn’t notice.’

19 MAY 2020: UK

easyJet reported that their system was hacked and data relating to 9 million customers accessed. The data included email addresses and travel details, as well as the credit card details of 2,208 customers. easyJet was aware of the attack in January, notified customers whose credit card information was stolen in early April, and notified all customers affected by 26 May. easyJet claims that there is no evidence that customers’ data has been misused. The Information Commissioner's Office is investigating the attack.

14 APRIL 2020: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

Reports emerged that two websites operated by San Francisco International Airport were hacked in March. One website is used by the airport’s employees and the other is used by their construction contractors. The hackers attempted to steal the users’ Windows credentials. The hack was suspected to have been conducted by the Russian group named Energetic Bear, which has links to the Russian government and has primarily attacked energy companies.

23 FEBRUARY 2020: LOMÉ, TOGO

Three Burkina Faso nationals attempted to hijack a CEIBA flight that departed from Malabo and was en route to Lomé. The hijacking attempt occurred approximately one hour into the flight. Passengers and cabin crew were able to restrain the men.

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.

2 JUNE 2020: DELHI, INDIA

A woman was preparing to catch a flight from Indira Gandhi International Airport’s Terminal 3 to Bhubaneswar when she was approached by a bomb disposal squad. Her husband had called the airport claiming a lady fitting her description had a bomb in her handbag. The couple had argued earlier in the day.

9 MAY 2020: MOSCOW, RUSSIA

A bomb threat was issued against Domodedovo Airport. The airport later received emails claiming bombs were present on two flights that were about to depart for Sochi and Ufa.

28 MARCH 2020: AMMAN, JORDAN

Therese Halasa, 66, died at her home in Jordan. Halasa was 18 years old when she hijacked Sabena Flight 571 from Brussels to Lod. She was accompanied by three other members of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Rima Tannous, Ali Taha Abu Sneineh and Abdel-Aziz al-Atrash. The hijack ended when the aircraft landed in Israel and was liberated by Israeli forces disguised as airport workers and Red Cross members. Halasa and Tannous survived the hijack but were arrested. The Israeli force members included former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

19 MARCH 2020: GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR

Protestors and the local government of Guayaquil blocked repatriation flights from landing and taking off at Jose Joaquin de Olmedo Airport because of fears of spreading the coronavirus throughout the city. An Iberia Airlines repatriation flight was blocked from landing by trucks parking on the runway. It was subsequently diverted to Quito. Guayaquil’s Mayor, Cynthia Viteri, who had been diagnosed with Covid-19, supported the action; however, the Ministry of Transport condemned it.

6 MARCH 2020: ASUNCION, PARAGUAY

Ronaldinho, Brazilian football star, and his brother Roberto were arrested at the Resort Yacht & Golf Club Paraguayo, where they were staying in order to attend a charity event. They were arrested for using a fake Paraguayan passport to enter Paraguay. Ronaldinho had his Spanish and Brazilian passports confiscated in July last year due to unpaid fines.

20 FEBRUARY 2020: CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

TV presenter, Laura Whitmore, and her comedian boyfriend, Iain Stirling, criticised a photographer who had taken a picture of her and Stirling as she arrived at the airport. She accused the reporter of not respecting their privacy while she was mourning the suicide of her friend and fellow presenter, Caroline Flack.

19 FEBRUARY 2020: MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN

Lydia Beairsto, 44, was fired from her role as security manager for Mitchell International Airport after she fell victim to an email scam by someone posing as her boss, Brian Dranzik. The scammer asked Beairsto to buy $2,100 worth of gift vouchers – to gift to employees as a surprise – and to send a picture of the vouchers with the pin numbers exposed, which she did. Bearisto then grew suspicious when the scammer asked for more gift cards. The cards were redeemed in Saudi Arabia.

9 JUNE 2020: TEHRAN, IRAN

A young male employee of Khomeini airport completed suicide by jumping from a second-floor mezzanine level inside the terminal after losing his job as a result of COVID-19 cut-backs.

9 JUNE 2020: PORT VILA, VAUATU

Journalists at Bauerfield International Airport were banned from taking pictures of an Air Calin flight that repatriated citizens who work on P&O Cruises.

5 JUNE 2020: FRANCE

Several flight attendants from Air France spoke out about sexual harassment and assault that is allegedly prevalent within the company. The whistleblowers’ stories indicated apathy from their fellow colleagues. Air France responded saying that they are committed to fighting against sexism and the gender stereotypes that exist within the airline and the industry.

3 JUNE 2020: PORT VILA, VANUATU

Journalists who took pictures of a repatriation flight that had landed at Port Vila from New Zealand were told to delete the photographs by airport security.

19 MAY 2020: COARI, BRAZIL

Reports suggest that the Brazilian Air Force should have fired warning shots whilst intercepting an illegal flight over the Amazon on 18 March, in accordance with the Aerospace Operations Command (COMAE). The flight was unknown to air traffic control. The Brazilian Air Force escorted the aircraft to Porto Urucu Airport.

16 JUNE 2020: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Sanjay Kalubhai Korat, 39, was found guilty of making a false bomb threat against a Singapore Airlines flight from Mumbai to Singapore in March 2019, which resulted in fighter jets escorting the flight to Changi. Korat admitted he made the threat because he became angry after calling Singapore Airlines twice for information regarding the flight, which his mother and another relative were travelling on. He will be sentenced in August.

14 JUNE 2020: CRAWLEY, UNITED KINGDOM

Paul and Elaine Gait were awarded £200,000 in compensation after they were wrongly arrested and held for 36 hours in connection with an incident in December 2018, in which drone interference caused significant delays and upheaval at Gatwick Airport. The couple claim to have been vilified by the media as a result, their arrest having made front page newspaper headlines.

12 JUNE 2020: MANGALURU, INDIA

Reports emerged that police filed a 700-page chargesheet against Aditya Rao, 36, in connection with an incident in which a bag containing an improvised explosive device was left near a ticketing counter at Mangaluru International on 20 January. Although the device contained explosives, a timer and sharp objects, none of the elements were connected and it was determined that Rao had intended the device to cause fear but not explode.

12 JUNE 2020: BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND

Reports emerged that PC Simina Muntean was handed a final warning letter from a tribunal for her drunk and disorderly behaviour. Muntean was off-duty at Birmingham Airport when she witnessed an assault. She then reported it to a police officer but was allegedly using offensive language and slurring her words because she was intoxicated.

9 JUNE 2020: TEHRAN, IRAN

The Iran judiciary announced that six people had been arrested in relation to the Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 plane crash.

3 JUNE 2020: DETROIT, MICHIGAN

A US Customs and Border Protection helicopter was targeted by a green laser whilst it was monitoring the protests in Detroit. The laser originated from Windsor in Canada. Authorities in Canada were contacted, and the perpetrator was arrested.

5 MAY 2020: LATVIA

Latvian authorities restricted flights below 19,500ft due to a drone that lost communication and went missing during a test flight. The airspace above Riga International Airport was closed and a flight from China to Tallinn was redirected.

3 MAY 2020: SASKATOON, CANADA

A 30-year-old man was arrested for pointing a green laser at a Saskatoon Police Service's Air Support Unit plane.

19 APRIL 2020: MERRITT ISLAND, FLORIDA

James Burrows, 59, pointed a laser and fired several rounds from his .22 calibre rifle towards a police helicopter that was flying over his home. The bullets tore through Burrows’ backyard fence. Burrows was drunk at the time and was later arrested.

2 MARCH 2020: FRANKFURT, GERMANY

Flights were temporarily suspended at Frankfurt Airport due to a drone sighting. A pilot of an aircraft spotted the drone hovering over the southern part of the airport.

7 JUNE 2020: ISRAEL

The Israeli Privacy Protection Authority revealed that a senior flight attendant from an Israeli airline supplied a man with their log-in details to an internal portal for years. The man worked within the aviation industry. The internal portal contained customers’ personal details such as their medical history, VIP customer and frequent flyer information.

7 APRIL 2020: PORT HARCOURT, NIGERIA

A pilot and co-pilot of Caverton Helicopters were arrested after they transported unknown passengers into the state, defying the Rivers state border closure, which was imposed to contain COVID-19.

20 FEBRUARY 2020: MOROCCO

Reports emerged that Royal Air Maroc suspended two of their flight attendants after they took pictures with an adult film star, Valerie Kybad, on a flight in October last year. The picture went viral. Kybad posed provocatively in her underwear in the aircraft’s galley. Royal Air Maroc issued an apology to their customers.

9 JUNE 2020: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM

Approximately 70 Swissport employees protested outside Brussels Airport after Swissport Belgium was declared bankrupt, threatening 1,500 jobs.

14 MAY 2020: AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

11 Greenpeace protestors were arrested at Schiphol Airport for protesting the financial aid the airlines sector was set to receive because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Greenpeace protestors stated that they would like the aid to be authorised based on airlines meeting conditions to lower CO2 levels. The protestors occupied the Aalsmeerbaan runway and entered the secure area by using a small bridge to pass over a ditch that separates the airport from a public road.

18 MARCH 2020: MOLOKAI, HAWAII

Approximately 60 Molokai residents protested at Molakai Airport to stop visitors entering the island in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

15 JUNE 2020: KHAMIS MUSHAIT, SAUDI ARABIA

Yemeni Houthi rebels conducted drone attacks on arms depots and warplane hangars at a Saudi Arabian military airport close to the North Yemen border. The rebels claimed responsibility the following day, stating the attack was in retaliation for airstrikes, economic blockades and military escalation.

15 JUNE 2020: BAGHDAD, IRAQ

Three Katyusha rockets landed close to Baghdad International Airport but no damage or casualties were reported, and no group claimed responsibility for the attack.

8 JUNE 2020: BAGHDAD, IRAQ

A rocket was fired from the Arab Khudair region and landed near Baghdad Airport. There were no reported injuries.

31 MAY 2020: TRIPOLI, LIBYA

The Libyan authorities carried out an attack on Khalifa Haftar forces that were located at Mitiga Airport. Three of their armoured vehicles were destroyed by artillery assaults.

25 MAY 2020: QANSAX DHEERE, SOMALIA

An Aeronav/Kenya School of Flying aircraft, registration 5Y-VVA, was carrying aid as part of the World Food Program to Qansax Dheere in the Bay region when it was targeted by gunfire. The aircraft managed to land safely despite suffering damage to the wing and fuselage area. This is the second time a Kenyan aircraft was shot down over the Bay region, the first occurring on 8 May. Reports alleged that Ethiopian troops could have been behind the shooting as they control the Qansax Dheere airfield.

1 JUNE 2020: TOKYO, JAPAN

A 61-year-old man drove his van past security and into the aircraft parking area at Narita Airport. The man slipped past security by driving through taxi lanes and gaps for exiting vehicles. He claimed he was unaware that he was trespassing.

17 MAY 2020: ROXBURY, CONNECTICUT

Parth Patel, 21, was arrested for trespassing and damaging the grass runway of Roxbury Airport with his four-wheel drive vehicle.

10 MAY 2020: FRANKFURT, GERMANY

A 20-year-old flew into Germany to meet his girlfriend, despite the restrictions on US citizens entering the country. When the man arrived at Frankfurt Airport, he changed into a janitor jacket as a disguise, and picked up two bins to attempt to get past security. However, he was unsuccessful as he had no ID and did not speak German.

3 MAY 2020: PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

Jeremiah Meade, 36, was discovered in the bathroom of a Southwest Airlines aircraft during pre-flight checks at Philadelphia International Airport prior to a flight to Tampa. Meade is believed to have been one of a hundred homeless people that were staying at the airport during the COVID-19 pandemic. Airport officials had been allowing people to stay in Terminal A-East.

11 JUNE 2020: AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

A 36-year-old man was arrested for assaulting an enforcer at Schiphol after he was issued with a fine for not adhering to measures put in place to contain COVID-19. The man allegedly punched the enforcer before running out of the terminal, pursued by the enforcer and Marechaussee officers. The officers resorted to using pepper spray after the man again attacked the enforcer at the train station near the terminal, and held him down on train tracks.

2 JUNE 2020: GOA, INDIA

Passengers on a repatriation flight from Dubai to Goa protested against the rules that stated that they had to quarantine before they could return to their homes.

9 APRIL 2020: FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

Kevin Todd, 29, shouted at JetBlue employees and attempted to breach a security checkpoint at Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Allegedly, Todd was incoherent and resisted arrest. When he was finally detained and taken to the front of the terminal, Todd became unconscious and later died in hospital.

5 APRIL 2020: BANGKOK, THAILAND

166 passengers who arrived on international flights at Suvarnabhumi Airport skipped quarantine checks. The Prime Minister of Thailand ordered a search for those passengers as they posed a risk of carrying the coronavirus. 16 arrived on a Thai Airways flight from Tokyo, 19 from Tokyo on an All Nippon Airways flight, 76 from a Japan Airlines flight from Tokyo, 44 on a Singapore Airlines flight from Changi, and 11 from Doha on a Qatar Airways flight. The passengers faced charges for violating the Emergency Decree on Public Administration BE 2548 and Communicable Disease Act BE 2558.

3 APRIL 2020: NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Mariel Vergara, 27, entered Louis Armstrong International Airport naked, approached a Spirit Airlines check-in desk and demanded to buy a ticket. The airline staff told her she would not be allowed to fly because she was naked. She refused to leave the airport or put on a dress and resisted arrest.

14 JUNE 2020: WINNIPEG, CANADA

A 59-year-old man caused a WestJet flight from Vancouver to Toronto to be diverted to Winnipeg after he refused to comply with crew instructions and was found smoking in the toilet.

3 JUNE 2020: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

Elle Knox, a 28-year-old adult actress, protested the response of authorities towards Black Lives Matter demonstrations on a United Airlines flight from Houston to San Francisco. Knox stood up after her flight landed and announced to her fellow passengers: “This isn’t my country, I’m an Australian. But I’ve noticed your democracy being threatened. Do not be complacent. Decide what side of history you’d like to be on.” She was escorted from the flight by police but was able to catch her next flight to Sydney.

25 MAY 2020: ZHENGZHOU XINZHENG, CHINA

A 29-year-old known only by her surname, Li, broke the window of a A-320 Loong Air aircraft during a flight from Xining Caojiabao airport in Qinghai province to Hangzhou Xiaoshan airport in Zhejiang, causing a diversion to Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport. Li was allegedly intoxicated and distressed after her relationship had broken down. She had allegedly drunk half a litre of baijiu – a Chinese grain alcohol.

24 MAY 2020: SIMFEROPOL, RUSSIA

Reports emerged that an intoxicated 31-year-old passenger was removed from a flight at Simferopol Airport after he demanded to be upgraded to business class. He offered the crew money and when they refused, he became abusive.

24 MAY 2020: WHANGANUI, NEW ZEALAND

A 30-year-old passenger was arrested after an Air Chathams flight from Auckland landed in Whanganui because he had taken off his face mask and refused to put it back on during the flight.

3 JUNE 2020: DELHI, INDIA

Yuvraj Singh Tewatia, a SpiceJet pilot, was on his way to Indira Gandhi International Airport in a cab when 8-10 bikers surrounded the vehicle and robbed him of his wallet at gun- and knife-point. He was due to fly to Mumbai.

26 MAY 2020: KIETA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Reports emerged that solar panels were stolen from Aropa Airport. The solar panels are used to power the pathway approach precision indicator lights, which help aircraft land. They were later recovered in Arawa.

19 MAY 2020: UKIAH, CALIFORNIA

Justin Malugani, 33, was arrested for damaging property and starting fires within Ukiah Municipal Airport. Malugani set fire to three airport vehicles and a boat, which caused damages of approximately $7,000 (c. £5,585). The windows of a nearby motorhome were also smashed. Malugani was found with a fire extinguishing substance on him whilst pulling a bin that had a flare in it. Another two flares were found on the scene and are believed to have been stored within the boat and was used to start the fires.

LEAD EDITORIAL

BY PHILIP BAUM

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Hypocrisy Avoidance & Effective Messaging: Key Factors to Mitigating the Threat of a Post-Coronavirus Surge in Unruly Passenger Incidents by Philip Baum

International readers may not be familiar with the name Dominic Cummings. Those of you in the UK would have had to be living in isolation not to know who he is (oh, sorry, I forgot that is what we are all supposed to have been doing)! Cummings is the Prime Minister’s muse. Without Cummings, it would appear, Boris Johnson is lost. The architect of the Brexit Vote Leave offensive, the fixer of Johnson’s crusade to become leader of the Conservative Party…

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