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AIRCRAFT OWNERS AND PILOTS ASSOCIATION
AIRPORT WATCH PROGRAM
THE IMPACT ON HOMELAND SECUITY AND GENERAL AVIATION
Dr. Daniel J. Benny, Ph.D., CPP, PCI, CCO, CASP, CIPM
© Daniel J. Benny, 2015

Introduction

In March 2003, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association in the United States developed the Airport Watch program. The goals of the Airport Watch program were to enhance security at general aviation airports, to aid in the prevention and reduction of crime in the general aviation community, and to prevent mandated security regulations from the Transportation Security Administration. The AOPA Airport Watch program encompasses two concepts related to security: physical security and security awareness. As it relates to physical security, the program recommends and encourages general aviation airports’ managers, aircraft owners, and pilots to use physical security practices to prevent and reduce crime. The security awareness aspect of the program focuses on making general aviation airport owners and employees, as well as aircraft owners and pilots, aware of their surroundings. This includes being aware of what is considered normal activity at the general aviation airports and what is not (AOPA, 2003). This program plays a vital role in homeland security.

The authors 1961 Cessna 150A (Photograph by Daniel J. Benny)

The crimes that may occur at a general aviation airport would be crimes against persons, the airport property, or the fixed base operation (FBO), and aircrafts located at the airport in hangers or at the aircraft tie-down area. Crimes against a person would include any crime that has an impact on the person or victim of the crime at the airport. This would include the crimes of murder, rape, robbery, assault, stalking, kidnapping, and harassment. Crimes against airport property or the FBO only affect the physical structures at the airport. Such crimes would include burglary, theft, arson, and vandalism. The crimes that could be perpetrated against the aircraft situated in a hanger or tie-down area at the airports would include theft of the aircraft, theft of aircraft avionics, sabotage of the aircraft, hijacking, and vandalism.

Results

In this updated 2015 study to the authors’ original study from several years ago regarding the AOPA Airport Watch program and the impact to general aviation airports, the author shows that the airports that adopted and introduced the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Airport Watch program, had a reduction in crime at the general aviation airports and there was an increase in crime at the airports that did not adopt the program. The research shows that crime against people at adopter airports went down 9%, and the number of crimes went up 12% at non-adopter airports. With regard to crime against property at adopter airports, the number of crimes went down 32% and went up 19% at non-adopter airports. Related to crime against aircraft at adopter airports, the number of crimes went down 87% and went up 12% at non-adopter airports. According to the research, crime against people at adopter airports went down from 5 to 0, and the number of crimes went up at non-adopter airports from 4 to 5. With regard to crime against property at adopter airports, the number of crimes went down from 80 to 3, and the number of crimes went up at non-adopter airports from 45 to 88. Related to crime against aircraft at adopter airports, the number of crimes went down from 25 to 2, and the number of crimes went up at non-adopter airports from to 5 to 12.

Conclusions

AOPA Airport Watch sign (Photograph by Daniel J. Benny)

The research shows that the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Airport Watch program can be useful in the reduction of crime and prevention of terrorism in general aviation across the United States. In light of the fears and concerns after 9/11, and the evolving homeland security initiatives to counter new aviation security threats, the study establishes that the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Airport Watch program is an important asset in the aviation security protocol in the reduction of crime and homeland security of the aviation infrastructure. It also allowed the general aviation community to be proactive in providing aviation security by developing and implementing a volunteer security program.

The research shows that the Airport Owners and Pilots Association Airport Watch program works and is an effect tool in the reduction of crime at general aviation airports. The key elements of an airport crime watch program that were followed by the airports include the aircraft security plan, aircraft key control, Aircraft locking devices, intrusion detections systems, airport security plan, physical security at the airport, and a security awareness program.


References

  • Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (2003). AOPA Airport Watch. Frederick, MD: AOPA.
  • Cronk, B. C. (2006). How to use SPSS. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing.
  • Criswell, J. W. (2003). Research design qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Dr. Daniel J. Benny, Ph.D., CPP, PCI, CCO, CASP, CIPM

Dr. Daniel Benny holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice from Capella University, Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Master of Arts in Security Administration from Vermont College of Norwich University, Bachelor of Arts in Security Administration from Alvernia College, a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Security Degree Program for Embry Aeronautical University Worldwide, Associate in Arts in both Commercial Security and Police Administration from Harrisburg Area Community College, and Diploma in Naval Command and Staff from the United States Naval War College. Currently, he is a licensed Private Investigator and Security Consultant, operating in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Organizations: Dr. Benny holds an active membership to many organizations, including: American Society for Industrial Security International; Association of Certified Fraud Examiners; International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals; International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection; Pennsylvania Association of Private Investigators; Pennsylvania Association of Licensed Investigators; World Association of Detectives; National Council of Investigation and Security Services; Association of British Investigators; Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association; Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society; Association of Former Intelligence Officers; International Spy Museum; Naval Intelligence Professionals

United States Naval War College Foundation; United States Navy Memorial Foundation; Navy League of the United States; Military Order of the World Wars; United States Coast Guard Auxiliary; Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association; American Association of Airport Executives; Aviation Council of Pennsylvania; United Stated Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol; Smithsonian Institute National Air and Space Museum Society, National Aeronautics Association

Awards and Experience: Dr. Benny is the author of the book General Aviation Security: Aircraft, Hangars, Fixed Base Operators, Flight Schools Airports and the following soon-to-be released books published by CRC Press: Cultural Property Security: Protecting Museums, Historic Sites, Archives and Libraries, Industrial Espionage: Developing a Counterespionage Program and co-author of the book The Complete Guide to Physical Security with Dr. Paul Baker of the Rand Corporation. He has authored more than 300 articles on security administration, intelligence, aviation security, maritime security, and private investigation topics.

Dr. Benny is a Pennsylvania State Police Act 235 Lethal Weapons Instructor/Agent; Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Terrorism Awareness Instructor; Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Basic Boating Instructor; and a Department of Homeland Security United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Safety Instructor. He is an American Red Cross Pet First Aid Instructor; National Rifle Association of America Personal Protection in the Home; and Home Firearms Safety, Pistol, Rifle, and Shotgun instructor and Range Safety Officer. He holds a Federal Aviation Administration Private Pilot Certificate, is a Federal Aviation Administration Safety Team Representative, and holds the rank of Major with the United States Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol.

Dr. Benny served as a United States Naval Intelligence Officer with duty at Office of Naval Intelligence, Naval Investigative Service, Fleet Rapid Support Team, and Central Intelligence Agency. He also served as a United States Navy Police Chief, Campus Public Safety Director at Elizabethtown College and Harrisburg Area Community College, and Director of Protective Service Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission.

Dr. Benny is Board Certified in Security Management as a Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and a Board Certified Professional Certified Investigator (PCI), both by ASIS International; Certified Institutional Protection Manager (CIPM) by the International Foundation for Cultural Property; and a Certified Member (CM), Airport Certified Employee-Security (ACE), and Airport Security Coordinator by the American Association of Airport Executives. He is a licensed Private Investigator.

Interests: Dr. Benny holds a Black Sash in Jeet Kune Do.

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