AIRPORT SE­CU­RITY – PLUG THE GAPS

What mag­ni­fies the over­all threat ma­trix is the China-Pak­istan col­lu­sive anti-In­dia nexus that has no com­punc­tions to ex­ploit ter­ror­ism as a tool for ter­ror­is­ing In­dia

SP's Airbuz - - Table Of Contents - BY P. C. KA­TOCH

ON AU­GUST 20, 2017, flight op­er­a­tions at Delhi airport were sus­pended for around two hours with clo­sure of the run­ways when an in­ter­na­tional air­line pi­lot spot­ted a drone-like ob­ject op­er­at­ing in the area. Later in the evening, an­other in­ter­na­tional air­line pi­lot spot­ted a sim­i­lar ob­ject near Ter­mi­nal 3, fol­low­ing which flight op­er­a­tions were halted for 40 min­utes. As per re­ports, the po­lice have not yet iden­ti­fied the in­di­vid­u­als who were op­er­at­ing th­ese drones. Sev­eral flights had to be di­verted away from Delhi be­cause of th­ese dis­rup­tions. This is per­haps the first such in­ci­dent in In­dia; but there have been many at Heathrow Airport in Lon­don where drone en­thu­si­asts flew their ma­chines close to the airport. The dan­ger here is ter­ror­ists us­ing drones to down air­craft and that too by night, as it would be dif­fi­cult for pilots to spot the drones. Re­cently, a drone landed un­de­tected on HMS Queen El­iz­a­beth, Bri­tain’s new and largest air­craft car­rier. A spokesman for the Bri­tish Min­istry of De­fence said: ” We take the se­cu­rity of HMS Queen El­iz­a­beth very se­ri­ously. This in­ci­dent has been re­ported to Po­lice Scot­land and an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der way. Mean­while, we have stepped up our se­cu­rity measures in light of this in­ci­dent”.

While the drone that landed un­de­tected on HMS Queen El­iz­a­beth was tak­ing pho­to­graphs, it could have been de­ployed for sab­o­tage as well. Just last month, a lone Rus­sian drone re­port­edly car­ry­ing a Ther­mite grenade, blew up bil­lions of dol­lars worth of am­mu­ni­tion when it struck the Balak­liya mil­i­tary base in Eastern Ukraine. We have large built up ar­eas ad­ja­cent to air­ports and along the flight path of air­craft tak­ing off or land­ing. The air­craft are thus par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble when fly­ing low dur­ing land­ing and take­off. Be­sides, the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of drones have gone up ex­po­nen­tially. In May 2016, ten DJI Phantom-4 PRO hi-tech drones made in China, equipped with ad­vanced satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem and ca­pa­ble of fly­ing at 6,000 me­tres with a half kg pay­load, were seized from a pas­sen­ger at Kem­pe­gowda In­ter­na­tional Airport, Ben­galuru. The DJI Phantom-4 PRO drone has a “Tap-by-Use“fea­ture which al­lows users to tap on an in­di­vid­ual in a crowd on his screen and al­low­ing the drone to lock and track the per­son. Now, Florida-based ‘ Duke Robotics’ has un­veiled the TIKAD, a cus­tom-built multi-ro­tor drone that can carry and fire var­i­ous mil­i­tary weapons, in­clud­ing semi-au­to­matic ri­fles and grenade launch­ers.

Just prior to Repub­lic Day in 2016, Mo­ham­mad Ab­dul­lah from Hy­der­abad man­aged to en­ter the Indira Gandhi In­ter­na­tional Airport (IGIA) at New Delhi on a fake Etihad ticket for UAE and spent ten days in the ter­mi­nal build­ing un­no­ticed. The se­quence of events was as fol­lows. On Jan­uary 11, 2016, he checked in with Etihad, who found his ticket to be forged and re­ported the mat­ter to the Central In­dus­trial Se­cu­rity Force (CISF). How­ever, he was let off. Within an hour, he took an­other print­out of the ticket and reen­tered the airport through an­other gate. This time, he re­mained there for ten days be­fore a house­keep­ing staffer told CISF that he had no­ticed the man at the ter­mi­nal for the past few days. CISF then ap­pre­hended Mo­ham­mad Ab­dul­lah and handed him over to Delhi Po­lice on Jan­uary 20, 2016. In 2015, more than 50 peo­ple were caught at IGIA, New Delhi hold­ing fake tick­ets, while about 20 cases were re­ported in 2016. In March 2016, a young man man­aged to sneak into the IGIA ter­mi­nal with a pis­tol. In May 2016, six men were ar­rested from the IGIA ter­mi­nal for roam­ing around sus­pi­ciously. A week be­fore that, po­lice ar­rested a for­eigner who had sneaked in to see off his girl­friend. To­day also, there are no measures in place for checking authenticity of the ticket car­ried by a pas­sen­ger. Web check-in tick­ets have bar­codes and so do board­ing passes. So why bar codes can not be made manda­tory for air tick­ets is­sued by air­lines and travel agents, which can be checked at the en­trance of the ter­mi­nal? Also, ac­cord­ing to the me­dia, IGI airport fol­lows the “SHA Se­cu­rity Plan” un­der which a per­son does not have to un­dergo frisk­ing be­fore en­ter­ing the ter­mi­nal build­ing, but is not this tak­ing the easy route? Have we looked around and ob­served what pro­ce­dures in­ter­na­tional air­ports in other coun­tries fol­low? There is no way one can en­ter in­ter­na­tional air­ports in coun­tries such as Nairobi or Adis Ababa with­out be­ing frisked as also screen­ing of bag­gage and Adis Ababa be­ing ma­jor hub on in­ter­na­tional routes, has equal num­ber of daily pas­sen­gers as IGIA if not more. An­other is­sue is of bag­gage screen­ing. Ear­lier, at Delhi airport, bag­gage screen­ing was done at the en­trance to the ’pas­sen­ger’ area. But check-in bag­gage is now screened af­ter be­ing booked at the check-in counter. At Kolkata in­ter­na­tional airport, the screen­ing ma­chine is at one end of the pas­sen­ger area and the small plac­ard say­ing you need to screen the bag­gage is next to in­di­vid­ual check-in coun­ters, which you may no­tice only af­ter you progress fur­ther up in the long queue. The CISF pro­vides se­cu­rity ser­vices to 59 air­ports in the coun­try op­er­ated by Air­ports Author­ity of In­dia (AAI) and a few pri­vate com­pa­nies So why can not pro­ce­dures be stan­dard­ised? If we can not en­sure screen­ing of bag­gage be­fore or at the very en­trance to the pas­sen­ger area of the airport ter­mi­nals, are we not fa­cil­i­tat­ing ter­ror­ist at­tacks sim­i­lar to what hap­pened at Brus­sels airport? What mag­ni­fies the over­all threat ma­trix is the China-Pak­istan col­lu­sive anti-In­dia nexus that has no com­punc­tions to ex­ploit ter­ror­ism as a tool for ter­ror­is­ing In­dia. We need to take the threat se­ri­ously and plug the gaps in the sys­tem to se­cure our air­ports for the well­be­ing of the trav­el­ling public.

TO­DAY ALSO, THERE ARE NO MEASURES IN PLACE FOR CHECKING AUTHENTICITY OF THE TICKET CAR­RIED BY PAS­SEN­GERS

Chi­nese made DJI Phantom-4 PRO hi-tech drone

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