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Dyami REBASE - August - September 2023 Report on Business Aviation Security


 
 

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. Timely analysis and accurate information regarding new threats are necessary for planning ahead and taking precautionary measures. There are several new threats which pose potential risks for business aviation around the world. Over Iraq, GPS spoofing is affecting aircraft ranging from business jets to 777s, potentially leading to serious incidents. Conflict is brewing in the Southern Caucasus, with Azerbaijan potentially not being satisfied after claiming the Nagorno-Karabakh. India is developing into a new hub for the trafficking of valuable items such as wildlife and gold.


Global

1.1. GPS Spoofing

The frequency and intensity of GPS spoofing incidents is on a rise. For now mostly found over Iraq, but it can be replicated all over the world. GPS spoofing has been shown to put aircraft upwards of 60 nm off of their flight path.


1.2. 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, Ethiopia and India. The aim of using business jets instead of commercial aviation is to lower the chance of getting caught, and increase the volume per flight.


1.3. 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 presents a worldwide challenge that is hard to combat.


1.4. Valuables trafficking

Ethiopia and India have become hubs for trafficking of valuables, such as wildlife and gold. While the majority of the detected smuggling was on commercial flights, there has been an increase in (attempts to) smuggle with business jets via smaller regional airports.


1.5. Cyber threats

In the first half of 2023, cyber attacks in the aviation sector surged by 24% worldwide. In business aviation, a notable trend among cyber criminals is gaining unauthorized access to confidential business data.


Europe

2.1. Climate activism

European airports are still targeted by climate activists who are mainly focusing on the business aviation sector. Besides physical damage, the protests result in disruptions and closures of airports, forcing jets to divert elsewhere.


2.2 GPS interference

Severe GPS interference can be found over the Black sea as a spillover effect from the war in Ukraine.

Middle East

3.1. 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 in Papua

On February 7, independence fighters from West-Papua took a pilot from New Zealand hostage in exchange for independence from Indonesia. On May 31, a video message appeared in which the pilot said that if demands are not met within two months, he will be executed. Since then, several rescue attempts failed, resulting in casualties on both sides, and the demands of the hostage takers were lowered. On July 20, 2023, an Indonesian official said that negotiation attempts are still ongoing. As of September, a rebel spokesperson admitted there has been no contact for three months.


4.2 Military operations by Azerbaijan

Tensions on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia are still high after the military operations performed on September 19 by the Azeri authorities. The Turkish president has visited Azerbaijan to reportedly discuss the ‘Zangezur corridor’ which would connect Azerbaijan and Turkey through Armenia. Iran has already stated that they will not allow any change of borders in the region and has bolstered military presence at the border.



4.3. Overflight risks

Due to the tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh and the growing involvement of Turkey, overflying the Armenia Azerbaijan border area should still be avoided at the moment. Overflying Georgia using waypoints DISKA and ADEKI is preferable, as BARAD skims the border of both nations. Both nations have long range air defense systems with ranges up to and exceeding 100 km in radius, and up to 30 km in height.


Africa

5.1. 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.


5.2. Illicit trafficking

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport [HAAB] has become a trafficking hub for wildlife and narcotics. The Ethiopian Customs Commission stated that it is struggling with the growing sophistication and capacity of smugglers, which is a notable pattern throughout the region.



North America

6.1. Trafficking

Over the last two months, cartels and other criminal organizations have continued to use private aircraft to smuggle narcotics and for human trafficking. The lack of security for private flights, especially at smaller regional airports, makes it easier for traffickers.


6.2. Protests

Protestors have disrupted flight operations at several airports in Mexico, the United States and Canada. While not always specifically targeted at aviation, airports are becoming an increasingly used site for protests.


South America

7.1. Trafficking

Cartels continue to use private aircraft for drug trafficking throughout the continent. Criminal organizations use old aircraft for these flights because a large number of aircraft are destroyed after only a small number of trafficking flights.


Oceania

There were no significant events in Oceania in the months of August and September.


Forecast The months of August 2023 and September 2023 have been calmer than the months before. This is mostly caused by the summer months being a time of the year when some regions have to focus on tourism. Local conflicts are expected to reignite in the coming months. In the case of climate activists, summer months prove more difficult for gathering large groups, because participants may go on holiday. More activism is expected in the coming months. That being said, the past two months saw a major event endangering air traffic over the Southern Caucasus, and the tensions in the region have not dwindled yet. Another fast growing threat to aviation is GPS spoofing, which is both a security and safety risk, and will increasingly become so as more and more modern aircraft rely solely on GPS for their navigation. GPS spoofing can cause aircraft to drift into unfriendly skies , or into the path of other traffic. Mitigating spoofing means returning to rudimentary means of navigation.


Global

1.1. GPS Spoofing

GPS spoofing is a growing trend facing the aviation sector. GPS spoofing is more dangerous than jamming, as most civilian aircraft are not equipped and/or capable of detecting GPS spoofing. This can result in extremely dangerous situations, where aircraft stray from their flightpath without realizing, causing the aircraft to deviate up to 80 nm. This can lead to a multitude of consequences; from straying into the path of other (oncoming) traffic to, in a worst-case scenario, crossing into unfriendly skies, resulting in an intercept or even shootdown. Aircraft ranging from Falcon 8x to Boeing 777s have been affected by GPS spoofing.


1.2. Drug trafficking

Drug trafficking is still a present risk for business aviation. For organized crime groups and cartels, business aviation is often the preferred method of transportation. There are numerous cases of drugs, or other valuable goods such as wildlife and gold, trafficked by cabin and flight crew on commercial flights. It is possible that cabin or flight crew on private jets could also smuggle illegal goods, emphasizing the need to be vigilant.


Throughout Latin America, cartels have continued to use business jets to smuggle large amounts of narcotics over long distances. These jets are often acquired in the United States and then destroyed after a single or very few flights to avoid detection. It is important to clearly identify when asked to minimize the risk of misidentification by law enforcement and/or the military. India also has become a major market for both drugs demand and supply side. The drugs in India are mainly coming from Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda and sometimes via Dubai or Sharjah. The central government has been urged to tighten up border security.


1.3. Human trafficking

With human trafficking still being a major issue today, the involvement of business aircraft is to be expected. In commercial aviation steps have been and are still being made to improve the awareness and the prevention of human trafficking. While most of these measures have generally been effective for commercial aviation, it could push human traffickers into finding other solutions.


One of these solutions for human traffickers is business/private aviation. If a trafficking organization can overcome the increased costs of using business aviation, it allows for flights to smaller airports with less experienced and limited security compared to larger commercial airports. Additionally, it is easier to bribe or blackmail security personnel to turn a blind eye to human trafficking, especially in unstable countries or regions.


1.4. Cyber threats

In the first half of 2023 cyber attacks within the aviation sector surged by 24% worldwide. A notable trend among cyber criminals targeting business aviation is them gaining unauthorized access to confidential business data. When providing unsecured WIFI on board hackers can easily establish connections from the ground getting access to passwords and credentials.


Europe

2.1. Climate activism

Climate actions are still happening all over Europe, albeit mostly small scale actions over the past two months. The absence of large actions is possibly due to the summer holidays. These actions mostly come from XR affiliates, and the usual MO is the throwing or spraying of paint on parked private/business aircraft. Another effect of the climate actions is the interruption of operations.


2.2 GPS interference

Severe GPS interference is to be expected when overflying the Black Sea, coastal Romania, and Bulgaria. Due to the war in Ukraine, most of the Black Sea has also turned into a combat zone. A collateral effect of this is GPS jamming, which spreads into Romania, as well as the south western Black Sea.


Middle East

3.1. GPS spoofing

GPS spoofing is most prevalent over Iraq, specifically route UM688, the closest route to Iran. This brings both safety as well as security risks, as GPS spoofing can without warning deviate an aircraft (reported up to 80 nm, but theoretically endlessly) from its intended flight path. This can bring aircraft into the flight path of other (oncoming) aircraft, or even worse, bring the aircraft into Iranian airspace. This could lead to an aircraft being intercepted, or even shot down. GPS spoofing will in most civilian aircraft not produce a warning, as the computer still receives a strong and clear GPS signal, albeit an incorrect one. GPS spoofing effects have for now been stopped by pilots who were lucky enough to see the moment their GPS jumped location when the spoofing started. In case of GPS spoofing, for now only dead reckoning or radar vectors can provide a navigational alternative. This is because within minutes, GPS spoofing will make the INS faulty on modern aircraft.


3.2. Increased military presence

There is a significant increase in military presence above the Strait of Hormuz to deter Iran from seizing vessels in the area. The tensions and presence have remained, as no changes have happened to the geopolitical situation. Avoid flying over the Strait of Hormuz and clearly identify when asked to minimize the risk of misidentification.



3.3. 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 northern Iraq. Additionally, GPS interference is to be expected when overflying the country as well as over Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, the Eastern Mediterranean, Israel and Turkey. The airspace above Iran, Afghanistan (except for P500/G500), Yemen and Syria is still unsafe for Western aviation. 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 in West Papua to demand independence is still being held by his captors. Since the capture on February 7, the hostage takers have freed the passengers and lowered demands. Negotiations have stranded numerous times and several rescue attempts failed, resulting in casualties on both sides. The indepence fighters have threatened to kill the pilot if demands, which are not publicly known, are not met and have published several videos of the pilot in captivity. On July 20, a senior official of the Indonesian military said that negotiation attempts are still ongoing and that the pilot is alive and healthy. As of September a rebel spokesperson admitted there has been no contact for three months.


4.2. Military operations by Azerbaijan

From September 19th to the 20th, Azerbaijan conducted military operations in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. These came with no warning in advance from officials, only at the moment operations started. Dyami first warned its open network for military operations in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 8th. The operation included missile strikes, drone activity, heavy artillery and small arms combat. The presence of drones and cruise missiles can cause a massive risk to any aviation caught in the vicinity, as air defense systems will try to intercept these. Such air defense systems were in the area of operations, but it is not confirmed whether they produced any results. Tensions in the area still linger, as Turkey and Azerbaijan are pushing for Armenia to relinquish a part of the south for a corridor between the former two countries. Besides Armenia, Iran is strongly opposed to this idea, which mobilized forces to its border with the three northern neighbors, stating it will ont allow any international borders to be changed. The advice for now is to completely avoid the Armenia-Azerbaijan border area, as well as southern Armenia. Crossing east-west should be done over Georgia instead, using waypoints ADEKI or DISKA.


4.3. Regional instability

Political instability has led to recurring protests and (armed) attacks, particularly in northern India, Pakistan, Myanmar and the border region of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Instabilities prove themselves risky to aviation, including business aviation. The instability in northern India poses a serious risk to aircraft on the ground, while the unrest in Pakistan and Myanmar introduce threats to overflight as well. As a result of proliferation of anti-air weapons, a minimum flight level of 300 AGL is advised.

The tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia accumulated to Azerbaijan conducting military operations in Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in the exodus of almost all Armenians from the region. These tensions have resulted in armed conflict and skirmishes without warning numerous times. Since both countries operate advanced air defense systems, overflying the border region as well as southern Armenia should be avoided.


Africa

5.1. Overflight risks

Overflying Africa has risks, which differ per country. Libya and Sudan are the only countries with a do not fly advisory while most other countries can be overflown by sticking to a security advisory.

  • Egypt: advice to fly above flight level 300 over the Sinai region due to terrorist organizations in possession of anti-air weapons

  • Ethiopia: the Tigray region remains unstable even though an official peace deal was signed in November. The advice is to avoid overflying the region because of the presence of anti-air systems.

  • Somalia: advisory to not overfly the country below flight level 300 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. The advisory is to not fly below flight level 300.

  • Mali: militants are in possession of anti-air systems and thus the advice is to not fly below flight level 300 over the country.

  • Niger: as a result of the political instability, the advice is to avoid flying over Niger

  • Western Sahara: due to the conflict in the region between Morocco and the independence movement in the region, there is a risk of proliferation of anti-air weapons. The advice is to stick to a flight level of 250 AGL or more.

  • Gabon: A coup kicked out the sitting ruler of the country, leaving instability in its wake.


5.2. Political instability

Political instability has resulted in unpredictable protests and revolts throughout Africa. The political violence in Sudan and Niger has led to serious security risks for aircraft on the ground and overflights. Where the situation in Gabon is headed is unclear for now. It is important to stay up-to-date with the latest developments to minimize the risk of getting caught in armed violence while staying in a vulnerable African country or region.


North America

6.1. Trafficking

Over the last two months, cartels and other criminal organizations have continued to use private aircraft to smuggle narcotics and for human trafficking. These organizations regularly use private flights to and from smaller regional airports in the south of the United States because of limited security. Airport personnel and/or the flight crew can be coerced or bribed into aiding the traffickers to further ease the smuggling.


South America

7.1. Trafficking

Cartels continue to use private aircraft, ranging from smaller Cessna to business jets, for drug trafficking throughout the continent. The criminal organizations use old aircraft for these flights because a large number of aircraft are destroyed after only a small number of trafficking flights. These aircraft also pose a risk during flight at low FLs/during departure and descent, as these flights are done without transponders or any form of communication.

When returning to your parked aircraft, make sure to check that no one has been on board/accessed cargo hatches to hide illicit goods. If illicit goods are found, take the stance of the local authorities into consideration, as some will imprison crews reporting such goods on their aircraft as the perpetrators.

 

Dyami, a leading provider of aviation security solutions, is proud to announce the appointment of Jan-Peter van Viegen as Head of Aviation. With an illustrious career spanning two decades in various facets of aviation, Jan-Peter brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the Dyami team.


Jan-Peter's extensive background encompasses flight operations, business aviation, flight training, safety, and compliance. He has held various key positions in the aviation sector, starting as an operations officer and working his way up to roles such as assistant flight operations manager, flight instructor and Captain on various business aviation aircraft. Most recently, he served as a senior inspector at CAA-NL (Civil Aviation Authority Netherlands).

 

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