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Dyami REBASE: April - May 2023

Updated: Jul 12, 2023


 

Executive Summary The incidents from the last few months show the importance of keeping up-to-date with the recurring and emerging security threats to the business aviation sector in Europe and the wider world. The need for timely analysis and accurate information regarding new threats is a necessity to plan ahead and take precautionary measures. There are several new threats which pose potential risks for business aviation around the world. In Europe, climate protests have targeted runways and breached security checkpoints in the Netherlands. The risk of climate protests pose particular problems for the business aviation sector as they are explicitly the target. Commercial and private drone use near airports, have posed difficulties for business aviation which are unable to land or have faced delays.


Global

1.1. Drug trafficking

Business model jets have been and continue to be used for drug/contraband smuggling across the globe. These flights are usually to and from Latin America. The aim of using business jets instead of commercial aviation is to lower the chance of getting caught, and up the volume taken per flight.


1.2. Human trafficking

In order to improve the ease of human trafficking, and to stay away from prying eyes of airport security as well as cabin crew, traffickers prefer to use business jets if they can. This problem is a worldwide ordeal which is hard to combat.



Europe

2.1. Private jet ban Schiphol Airport

On the 4th of April, Schiphol Airport announced a proposal for a private jet ban at the airport. Under the new proposal, the ban will come into effect no later than 2025-2026 and private jets will no longer be welcome at Schiphol Airport.


2.2. “Suspected drone” cause disruption at London Gatwick Airport

On the 14th of May, operations were suspended at London Gatwick Airport after a suspected drone was seen close to the airfield.


2.3. Letzte Generation spray paint on small aircraft

On 5 May climate activists from Letzte Generation Germany sprayed orange paint on a privately owned Piper PA-23-250 at Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Airport security was present during the action.


2.4. Extinction Rebellion disruption at EBACE

On 23 May, dozens of climate activists from different associations disrupted Europe’s largest private jet trade fair “EBACE” at Geneva Airport. The climate activists chained themselves to the private aircraft to protest against the sector’s carbon emissions.


Middle East

3.1. Security breach Ben Gurion Airport

A State Auditor Report points to security breaches at Tel-Aviv Ben-Gurion Airport. The security breaches could allow Israeli and foreign criminals and terrorists to enter the country. There are known incidents in which people entered Israel by taking advantage of security breaches.


3.2. Overflight Risks

Recent developments in the region have caused a need for extra security measures differing per country. These are important to adhere to, as ignoring the risks while overflying can lead to catastrophic results.


Asia

4.1. New Zealand pilot hostage Papua

In the Indonesian region of West Papua, independence fighters have taken a New Zealand pilot hostage. The pilot is taken hostage due to political motives. The indepence fighters will only free the pilot if the country of Indonesia acknowledges the freedom of West Papua. On the 24th of April, a video message appeared in which the pilot was visible and talking, and the pilot is still alive and “healthy”.


4.2. Regional instability

Political instability in some countries have led to recurring protests, particularly in Myanmar and Nagorno-Karabakh. Instabilities in some countries prove themselves risky to aviation, including business aviation. This ranges from minimum flight levels to security issues on the ground.


Africa

5.1. Conflict in Sudan

On 15 April, deadly fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke out in Sudan. Due to the conflict, Sudan remains closed to all civilian flights. HSSK/Khartoum airport is closed.


5.2. Overflight risks

Recent developments in the region have caused a need for extra security measures differing per country. These are important to adhere to, as ignoring the risks while overflying can lead to catastrophic results.


North America

6.1. Gold heist at Toronto Pearson International Airport

On 17 April, more than $15M worth of dollars of gold and valuables were stolen at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The aircraft container, containing the gold, was transported to a cargo holding facility. The police believe that the heist took place in this process.


6.2. Shot at small aircraft in Alabama

On 20 May, an aircraft that is used for spraying pesticides was shot at in Alabama. The aircraft was hit by one bullet while in operation.


South America

7.1. Airport shooting at José Mariá Córdova Airport in Medellín.

On 17 May, there was a shooting inside the José Mariá Córdova Airport in Medellín. The event occurred in the migration area of the airport.


7.2. Drug trafficker escaped at José Mariá Córdova Airport in Medellín.

The authorities in Colombia are searching for a Serbian drug trafficker who escaped the José Mariá Córdova Airport in Medellín, on May 18. The drug trafficker escaped the immigration custody after asking to buy water.


Oceania

8.1. Drug smuggling with small aircraft in Queensland

On 21 March, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrested five members of a criminal syndicate organization for arranging a black flight and carrying 52 kilograms of illegal methamphetamine. For the trafficking, a twin-engine Beechcraft light aircraft has been used.


Forecast The threats to the business aviation sector between April 2023 and May 2023 are likely to pose continuing threats in the coming months. Climate protestors are likely to continue targeting business aviation worldwide and pose risks to airport security. Steps are being taken by the authorities to reduce the incidents of commercial drones disrupting airspaces. In Asia and South America, continuing instability and the use of aviation for human smuggling and drug trafficking is widespread throughout the region. The security risks identified are likely to pose threats for the foreseeable future. Recognizing the potential risks and creating scenarios are vital for security for the business aviation sector.


 

Global

1.1. Drug trafficking

Drug trafficking is still a present risk for business aviation. For organized crime groups and cartels, business aviation is sometimes the preferred method of transportation when compared to commercial aviation. Due to the association of drug trafficking with profitability for crime organizations, firearm smuggling and use in terrorist organizations, the drug trafficking world is considered as dangerous as terrorism.


There are several cases of drugs, or other objects, trafficking by cabin and flight crew on commercial flights. It is possible that cabin or flight crew on private jets could smuggle too. Keep it in mind and be vigilant.


1.2. Human trafficking

With human trafficking still being a major issue to this day, the involvement of business aircraft is to be expected. In commercial aviation steps have been made and are still being made in recent years to improve the awareness and by that prevention of human trafficking. While steps being made is an objectively good thing, it does have the potential to push human traffickers into finding other solutions.


One of these solutions for human traffickers is business/private aviation. If one can overcome the increased costs of such an operation compared to trafficking via commercial aviation, it allows for flights to smaller airports with less experienced and not as many employees as on a major commercial airport. Additionally, in countries which are not as stable as one would hope, it is easier to bribe or even blackmail customs agents/border guards to turn a blind eye to what you are doing.


Europe

2.1. Private jet ban Schiphol Airport

On the 4th of April, Schiphol Airport announced a proposal for a private jet ban at the airport. Under the new proposal, the ban will come into effect no later than 2025-2026 and private jets will no longer be welcome at Schiphol Airport. Also, aircraft take-off and landings between midnight and 5 a.m. will not be allowed in the new proposal. Plans for a new runway have also been scrapped. The serie of measures have been suggested by Schiphol Airport, to reduce its air traffic and to create a quieter, cleaner, and better system. The reason for targeting private aviation is the “disproportionate amount of noise nuisance and CO2 emissions per passenger”.


In the past edition of REBASE, there was a paragraph about the flight reduction at Schiphol Airport for the 2023-2024 season. However, the Court of North Holland ruled that the state did not follow the right procedure before announcing the contraction at Schiphol Airport. The court has scrapped the plan of the Dutch Government. Despite the decision of the court, the threat of flight cuts still exists.


2.2. “Suspected drone” cause disruption at London Gatwick Airport

On the 14th of May, operations were suspended at London Gatwick Airport after a suspected drone was seen close to the airfield. During the 50 minute suspension, twelve inbound aircraft were diverted to other airports. There have been several drone incidents in the past few months. Experts are working on systems to prevent drone disruption operations at major airports, there is no clarity on these systems yet.


2.3. Letzte Generation spray paint on small aircraft

On 5 May climate activists from Letzte Generation Germany sprayed orange paint on a privately owned Piper PA-23-250 at Berlin Brandenburg Airport. The climate activists were active on the airside, it is unclear how the activists accessed the airside. ‘Letzte Generation Germany’ has stated on their Twitter account that the “Excessive luxury of the super-rich is at the expense of the majority and we should not put up with it one day longer”. Airport security was present during the action.


2.4. Climate activists Greenpeace disruption at EBACE

On 23 May, dozens of climate activists from different associations disrupted Europe’s largest private jet trade fair “EBACE” at Geneva Airport. The climate activists were part of various associations, including Greenpeace, Stay Grounded, Extinction Rebellion, and Scientist Rebellion. The climate activists chained themselves to the private aircraft to protest against the sector’s carbon emissions. The flights at Geneva Airport were suspended for an hour, with further delays expected throughout the day. The climate activists were removed by police and private security, which allowed the reopening of the static display with the aircraft. According to the climate activists, business aviation is the most harmful means of transportation for the climate and only a small part of the population can afford it. Climate activists protest for banning private aircraft.


Middle East

3.1. Security breach Ben-Gurion Airport

A State Auditor Report points to security breaches at Tel-Aviv Ben-Gurion Airport. The security breaches could allow Israeli and foreign criminals and terrorists to enter the country. In addition, the report noted that there are known incidents in which people entered Israel by taking advantage of these breaches. The associable sections of the report note that the security breaches are the result of airport authorities not applying the necessary procedures. The procedures are set by the Population and Immigration Authority to prevent security breaches at the border control posts. It is unclear how many people have managed to go through the checkpoints by taking advantage of the security breaches, and what the identity is of these people.


3.2. Overflight Risks

Developments in the region have caused a need for extra security measures. These include an advised minimum flight level of 320 over Iraq, with a focus on Baghdad. Additionally, GPS interference is to be expected when overflying the country as well as Lebanon, Turkey and Israël. Iranian airspace remains unsafe for Western aviation to use, with the same applying to Afghanistan (except for P500/G500), Yemen and Syria. Overflying Saudi Arabia is safe, as long as flying above FL260.


Asia

4.1. Pilot held hostage in West Papua (Indonesia)

The pilot taken hostage around four months ago in West Papua is still being held by his captors. The fate of his passengers is known by now, as they were released by the separatists for being locals to the region. There was no news heard from him until the 10th of March, when a video was released where he appeared alive. The demands made by the separatists for his release is that Indonesia recognizes West Papua as separate from Indonesia. On the 24th of April, a video message appeared in which the pilot was visible and talking, and the pilot is still alive and “healthy”. The pilot called for a stop to the ongoing airstrikes by the Indonesian authorities in the Nduga Recency region. The attacks could put his life as well as others at risk. For now, no end is in sight to his captivity.


4.2. Regional instability

Myanmar is a country that has been troubled for a long time, a recent development however is that it is advisable to overfly Myanmar at a minimum flight level of 320. This is because of anti air weapons present in the country, in combination with the combative nature of the country at this point in time.

The Nagorno-Karabakh region still holds a security threat, as it has shown many examples of combat flaring up without warning. There are many anti air systems located in this region, capable of engaging aircraft at great heights. Thus, overflying this region should be avoided.


Africa

5.1. Conflict in Sudan

On 15 April, deadly fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke out in Sudan. Despite a ceasefire agreed at the end of April, there is ongoing fighting between the government and militant forces. Due to the conflict, Sudan remains closed to all civilian flights. HSSK/Khartoum airport is closed. For South Sudan, air navigation services remain suspended above FL245. In South Sudan, there are poor ATC provisions for overflight below FL245. Due to the risk of anti-aircraft weaponry and military activity in Sudan, it is advised to operators to not enter the Sudan airspace. The primary risk is the security on the ground for any unplanned diversions to the airports in Sudan. Also, there have been reports of civilian- and military aircraft being targeted, by gunfire, at HSSK/Khartoum.


5.2. Overflight risks

Overflying Africa comes with its own risks differing per country, with Libya being the only one with a do no fly advisory. There are several countries which can be overflown while sticking to a security advisory.

  • Egypt, with an advice to fly above flight level 300 over the Sinai region due to anti air systems being in the hands of terrorist organizations in the region.

  • Ethiopia, the Tigray region remains unstable even though an official peace deal was signed in November. In this region too are anti air systems. The advice is to avoid overflying the region.

  • Somalia, the advice here too is to not overfly the country below a flight level of 300, this is because of the instability in the country in combination with the presence of anti air systems.

  • Kenya, the border region has an overspill effect of the civil war in Somalia, thus posing the same threat as in Somalia itself, to not fly below flight level 300.

  • Mali, here too is an advice to not fly below flight level 300 over the country, because of the presence of anti air systems in the hands of militants.

  • Western Sahara, Due to the conflict in the region between Morocco and the independence movement in the region, there is a risk of anti air weaponry in the region, the advice is to stick to a flight level of 200 or more.


North America

6.1. Gold heist at Toronto Pearson International Airport

On 17 April, more than $15M dollars of gold and valuables were stolen at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The airport in Toronto is often used to ship gold mined in the province of Ontario. The aircraft container, containing the gold, was transported to a cargo holding facility. The police believe that the heist took place in this process. It is still unknown what airlines shipped the cargo, where the load came from, or the intended destination. The airport stated that the thieves did not gain access to the airport, but accessed the public side of a warehouse that is leased to a third party. This warehouse area is outside the primary security line of the airport. The heist is not considered as a public safety matter and passengers are not in danger. It is not the first time that a Toronto area airport made headlines for a gold heist.


6.2. Shot at small aircraft in Alabama

On 20 May, an aircraft that is used for spraying pesticides was shot at in Alabama. The aircraft was hit by one bullet while in operation. It is unknown who shot at the aircraft and there were no casualties.


South America

7.1. Airport shooting at José Mariá Córdova Airport in Medellín.

On 17 May, there was a shooting inside the José Mariá Córdova Airport in Medellín. According to unofficial sources, the suspects have tried to rescue a person who was in the official custody of authorities. The event occurred in the migration area of the airport. There were no casualties and the air terminal has not ruled on the events, there were no disruptions in the airport operations.


7.2. Drug trafficker escaped at José Mariá Córdova Airport in Medellín.

The authorities in Colombia are searching for a Serbian drug trafficker who escaped the José Mariá Córdova Airport in Medellín, on May 18. The drug trafficker escaped the immigration custody after asking to buy water. Then the Serbian slipped past the authorities and ran out of the airport, where accomplices waited. Mrdeza, the suspect, is an alleged member of an Italian-based criminal organization that ships drugs from South America to Europe. During the escape, multiple shots were fired by the police and Mrdeza’s accomplices. There are no wounded or casualties. Mrdeza was arrested the week before, on 10 May, after arriving on a flight from Punta Cana, and Italy asked for extradition. Colombian migration decided to remove Mrdeza from the country.


Oceania

8.1. Drug smuggling with small aircraft in Queensland

On 21 March, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrested five members of a criminal syndicate organization for arranging a black flight and carrying illegal methamphetamine. For the trafficking, a twin-engine Beechcraft light aircraft has been used back and forth from Papua New Guinea to Australia. It is suspected that the aircraft flew under the radar with the transponder switched off, on the return trip to Monto, where the Specialist AFP and Queensland Police intercepted the aircraft. The Police located and seized five duffle bags concealed in the aircraft, containing about 52 kilograms of methamphetamine.


 

REBASE April - May 2023
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