FBOs beef up security while trying to maintain service, convenience
By John Boyce, Contributing Editor
November/December 2001Seeking Input
Security has become a balancing act for fixed base operators and other aviation service companies across the country. They’re trying to take what they consider to be prudent security measures in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks, while maintaining high levels of service and convenience for customers.
"If you go back to one of the reasons
that general aviation exists," says Steve Lee, senior vice president
for marketing and business development at Signature Flight Support, "it’s
because customers want the absolute amount of flexibility, convenience,
and anonymity. Those things don’t always go too well with security....
"The challenge ahead of us is to figure out how you maintain that flexibility for our customers but also create a safer environment for them to be in. I don’t think we have the answer; that’s going to be the challenge."
Most FBOs, it appears, have taken some steps to increase security at their facilities; some because they were required to by their presence on an airport governed by Part 107 and some because they wanted to do the responsible thing to protect their businesses, their customers, and their airports, whatever the airport requirements.
Signature, since September 11, went so far as to have a security audit done by a third party security company on one of its facilities. Explains Lee, "We’re going through those recommendations, and doing things like moving equipment, increasing visibility, increasing lighting. We’re exploring the idea of video cameras. In some locations we have video cameras to some degree, but having complete coverage for the complete campus is not common."
Daniel Maddox, director of safety and training for Mercury Air Group, reports that he is treating all of the company’s 19 FBOs as Part 107 locations (see sidebar). He says the reaction of customers has been mixed, though most are cooperative.
"We’re getting grumblings from some of our customers because of the restrictions we’ve imposed on ramp access. If I could speak frankly, there’s a group of customers who do complain. (But) there’s a group that is welcoming our security measures for their protection. It’s a day to day thing."
Mercury’s New Checklist
One of the leading U.S. chains of fixed base operators shares its upgraded safety and security plan.
Immediately following the September 11 terror attack on the U.S., Daniel Maddox, director of safety and training for Mercury Air Group, began implementing a detailed security plan that is largely in place but is still a work in progress.
According to Maddox, the specific measures being implemented include ...
• No vehicles will be allowed on the ramp or AOA except emergency or support vehicles for aircraft.
• Mercury employees or airport security must escort all vehicles. All gates are locked and chained which do not have access codes. "And now even those are locked and chained... Everyone is to be recognized, challenged, and escorted."
• Non-Mercury employees will not be allowed in any of the operational areas of the buildings. Restrooms and storage areas are to be checked every half hour on a staggered basis for unauthorized personnel or foreign or unusual objects.
• All aircraft storage hangars are to be inspected by walk through every hour on a staggered basis for unauthorized personnel or foreign or unusual objects.
• Fuel trucks will not be parked or left unattended within 100 feet of public access.
• On gates that have access codes, the codes will be changed a minimum of monthly and reported to local aviation authorities.
• All parking areas are monitored closely for suspicious vehicles. "We’ve towed a lot of vehicles lately throughout our chain."
• The immediate drop-off area is just for drop off — no parking.
• Aircraft information (tail numbers, owners, destinations) will not be divulged to anyone. No passenger luggage left unattended in any areas.
• All lighting on the AOA ramp is to be made operational; no unlit bulbs.
• Keys are assigned and all unassigned keys are secured in a lock and key control cabinet.
• All access points to hangars and buildings are monitored at all times.
• All doors not in use for daily operation must be secured. All Part 107 airports check with local authorities to ensure that the operation is in compliance. All trash receptacles have been removed from the drive up side of terminal buildings.
• Posted emergency contact lists so that if something does occur, there’s a chain [of response].
Explains Maddox, "We’ve also requested at all our locations that they put together and implement emergency call-out rosters; in the event something happens, we can call people into work. Also, we’ve posted numbers for local police, ambulance, fire department, FBI, state bureau of investigation, ATF, and local airport security." All numbers are available to all employees.
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