As you are almost certainly aware, since we have not stopped referring to it since its publication, UN Security Council Resolution 2309 (2016) has caused a major revolution in aviation security, and placed the international spotlight once again on AVSEC issues. As well as addressing various threats to aviation, it called for several new initiatives resulting in an overall improvement to this sector. ICAO reacted by renovating its global security strategy, moving from the ICASS (ICAO Comprehensive Aviation Security Strategy) to the GASeP (Global Aviation Security Plan), and updating and setting up new goals in order to adapt to present and future threats.
In this personal view, I shall address just one topic related to these recent strategic developments. It is a topic that I think is of paramount importance to our continuous efforts to enhance the global level of preparedness and response to threats that may be coming our way. Let’s talk about security culture.
This issue is touched upon in the UNSCR when it called for “the promotion of an effective security culture within all organizations involved in civil aviation” and in the GASeP when it called for the establishment of “a strong and robust security culture”. Well, this, I think, is easier said than done, but the pilot community may help by sharing its previous experience of adopting the concept of a ‘culture’ in the aviation safety realm.
I am a firm believer in the concept of culture in aviation. As a professional airline pilot, I have seen the benefits of a well implemented safety culture in many aviation organisations, as well as the shortcomings and lack of efficiency that the absence of it has had in others. In the AVSEC world we have been talking about security culture for quite some time; many papers have been published, many workshops have taken place, but we do not seem to have been able to define common specific proposals or adopt a definitive method of implementing this concept globally. The UNSCR and GASeP has given us a new opportunity to research and produce new materials and procedures, which may allow us to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of old and new security provisions.
Continuing with the example of safety… Safety culture is embedded in a much greater system (Safety Management Systems, SMS) that includes requirements, among many others, for top-level management and government to promote safety culture, and provide accountability if something does not go according to plan. And yes, I am very well aware that safety and security have different purposes reflected in very different definitions of each:
Safety: The state in which risks associated with aviation activities, related to, or in direct support of the operation of aircraft, are reduced and controlled to an acceptable level.
Security: Safeguarding civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference. This objective is achieved by a combination of measures and human and material resources.
We already manage many things using different systems: Safety Management Systems, Business Management Systems, Quality Management Systems (where everything started), Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, Environmental Management Systems, etc. All these systems prove every day that with a basic set of tools and rules we are able to manage very different organisations with very different purposes.
…responsibility for the implementation of an effective security culture resides in top-level management and regulatory bodies…
So, in my opinion, the implementation of a good security culture is not only about the development of specific requirements and procedures, but also for these precepts to be included in a much broader scheme. Within such a system we would also need to describe additional, specific requirements that could be used broadly and internationally, fostering a clear understanding of what we mean when talk about security culture and all other AVSEC related issues.
The second step to fostering a good security culture has to be based on training…and a lot of it. Although security culture is a lot more than just training, we need to teach the new scheme in great depth for it to be successful.
Additionally, almost every paper we produce for AVSEC training starts and/or finishes with the motto ‘SECURITY IS EVERYONE’S REPONSIBILITY’. While I completely agree, this responsibility should not be distributed equally throughout the system. The responsibility for the implementation of an effective security culture resides in top-level management and regulatory bodies (‘top to bottom’ implementation of security culture) since they are the only ones capable of allocating necessary resources throughout the organisation and government. Therefore, security culture will only work if top-level management, regulatory and oversight bodies get involved and lead the change.
From the pilots’ side, we will continue working and sharing our experience with the industry and states to develop materials and procedures necessary to build and promote security culture worldwide.
Agustín Guzmán is the chairman of the IFALPA Security Committee.