• Safety-refers to measures taken against the threat of an accident.
  • Security- refers to protection from threats motivated by hostility or malice.

Attacks on Civil Aviation

  • Bombings, shootings, and miscellaneous attacks at airports.
  • Bombings, shootings, hijacking, and miscellaneous attacks on aircraft on the ground or in flight.
  • General Aviation and Charter Aviation aircraft attacks.
  • Off-airport facility attacks.
  • Shootings (from the ground) at aircraft during takeoff and landing.

Review of Attacks on Civil Aviation

The very first recorded act of hijacking was in 1930 when Peruvian revolutionaries seized an F7 Fokker aircraft. This marked the beginning of an era for this new crime, but it was not until the post-war period with the huge growth in air passenger transport that hijacking came to international prominence.

Attacks against civil aviation rose rapidly in the 1967-1976 decade. While there were only 32 worldwide hijackings from 1961 to 1967, there were 290 hijackings attempts worldwide during the following 4 years after 1968.

The climax occurred in 1969 when 33 regularly scheduled U.S. airliners were hijacked. By 1969, the number of U.S. passengers and crew members who were being detoured to Cuba totaled 1359. This led to a great deal of money being spent on security by the air carriers and the FAA on x-ray systems, magnetometers, training programs for screening personnel and air marshals, after which the relative level of security immediately rose.

The decade of the 1980s was a disastrous one for aviation. This period confirmed the existence of a dangerous trend toward greater violence against air transportation. Overall, 25 planes were sabotaged by explosives, causing 1237 casualties.

Infamous Accidents

Air India bombings in June 1985 in which 329 people perished off the coast of Ireland.

Korean air disaster in 1987 cost the lives of 155 people to lose their lives.

Midair explosion in 1989 of the French UTA flight over Niger Desert in which 171 people were killed.

Bombing of Colombian Avianca in 1989 near Bogota in which 107 people died.

The Regulatory Movement

The terrorist events of September 11, 2001 have indeed changed the Aviation Security (AVSEC) landscape on a global basis. There have been significant regulatory developments in the international arena and in the U.S. policy along the way.

International Response to Terrorism

  1. Tokyo Convention- on offenses and certain other acts committed on board aircraft, recognized the issues and authorized the airline captain to take appropriate action to restrain persons interfering with safety of flight.
  2. Hague Convention- for the suppression of unlawful seizure of aircraft, adopted 114 articles relating to hijacking and provided guidelines to governments dealing with this problem.
  3. Annex 17- Security Safeguarding International Civil Aviation against Acts of Unlawful Interference.
  4. ICAO Security Manual- primary document providing member States with guidance material to assist with the implementation of international security measures.

Evolution of Aviation Security in the United States

Similar to ICAO, the FAA response to aviation security has slowly evolved. This section will discuss the history of aviation security in the United States and the changes brought about by the events of September 11, 2001.

The Hijacking Era (1968-1979)

In response to the major increase in hijackings during this era, the FAA began to beef up the Federal Aviation Regulations. Initially, airport security matters were governed under FAR Part 139, Subpart 335 (Public Protection) and Subpart 337 (Wildlife Hazard Management). FAR Part 107 was enacted in 1972, which required airport operators to immediately adopt and put into use facilities and procedures designed to prevent persons and vehicles from unauthorized access to air operations areas. Under PArt 107, airports were required to:

  • Improve or establish protection against unauthorized access to air operations areas.
  • Establish authorized access to air operations areas through a suitable identification system.
  • Identify vehicles operating in air operations areas.

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