General Aviation Security

Background

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, aviation security has become a primary concern for governments all over the world, including Canada.  Although significant effort to bolster aviation security has been directed at commercial scheduled flights that depart from airports’ main air terminal building (ATB), a portion of aviation traffic involves general aviation - on-demand private and commercial aviation.

General aviation (GA) represents an important and diverse sector of the aviation industry in Canada, encompassing business aviation, private aviation, flight schools, tourist and charter flights, as well as many other industries.  These flights typically depart away from the ATB at smaller, private aviation facilities or installations, often referred to as fixed base operations (FBOs)¹ as well as at small general aviation airfields across Canada.  Security requirements for these facilities and aircraft are less stringent and, as a result, may be more vulnerable to exploitation by terrorists.

Although there is currently no International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard for the security of private air operations, Canada, along with a number of its major international partners are in the process of developing plans to enhance general aviation security. 

Recent incidents, although not directly related to terrorism, demonstrate that general aviation aircraft could be used in non-intended purposes to interfere with safety and security, possibly resulting in potential loss of life, economic loss, reduced confidence in safety and security, and consequential or increased requirements imposed on Canadian general aviation operations.  

Transport Canada conducted extensive consultations with stakeholders across Canada to possibly expand screening to include general aviation flights departing at FBOs at major Canadian airports; however, it was determined that additional assessment of factors, such as screening delivery models and potential resource needs, was warranted. 

Transport Canada is continuing to examine what oversight and measures are needed to appropriately address the risk within general aviation and FBO operations, working with the general aviation community.  At the same time, Transport Canada acknowledges that any regulation of the general aviation sector will need to be appropriate to the level of risk, while also ensuring that the economic viability of the industry and comparability to our international partners is maintained

Transport Canada officials continue to develop and assess options to enhance the security of general aviation.



¹Most FBOs offer aircraft fuel, oil, and parking, along with access to washrooms and telephones.  Larger FBOs offer additional aircraft services such as hangar storage, maintenance, aircraft charter or rental, flight training, de-icing, and ground services such as towing and baggage handling.