So you are in a flight department without any Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), you want some, but have no idea where to begin. Well let's try starting at the beginning! No, on second thought, let's start at the middle!

— James Albright





I've written a complete set of SOPs that was used by a management company I used to work for, has since been adopted by many other companies, and is currently in use at my company. These SOPs have been through countless audits, so they have been vetted. The only problem is that they are written for my operation, not yours. But you can easily adapt them.

There are eleven chapters and you might be best off by starting somewhere other than the first chapter, which is helpfully called Chapter Zero. But it would be a good idea to skim through everything: An SOP Starter Pack. Each chapter contains a presentation of the material, ideas on where to start, how to start, and a Microsoft Word Document file you can customize for you operation.

1 — Why this chapter matters

2 — SMS, ICAO, ISBAO and other alphabetty spaghetti

3 — The chapter itself

4 — Where to start

5 — How to start

6 — Word file



Why this chapter matters

This is the chapter outlines your aircraft security procedures.

This chapter includes:

  • Assessing the threat
  • Preventative measures
  • Hangar security
  • Aircraft security
  • Responsive measures
  • Security checklists


SMS, ICAO, ISBAO and other alphabetty spaghetti

The International Civil Aviation Administration (ICAO) dictates how things happen in aviation worldwide, with exceptions permitted within a country's airspace. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration has made quite a few exceptions, but has been working over the years to whittle those down in number. Even if you never venture outside the sovereign airspace of your country, ICAO rules will impact you at some point.

If you fly internationally, you will need a Safety Management System (SMS). Even if only fly domestically, you may find that an SMS is required by your operator or your insurance broker. You will definitely find that SMS will improve how you fly.

One of the ways you can demonstrate your adherence to SMS and other best practices is to get inspected by an approved auditor, such as the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), who can measure you against the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO).

This chapter includes references to ICAO Annexes, which are the regulations that cover international aviation. Among the references throughout this chapter:

  • "NX6" — Annex 6: Operation of Aircraft


The chapter itself

Note: I have used "Acme Corp" as the company name. Unless that is your company's name, you should substitute your company's name wherever you see Acme Corp.

9 Security Procedures

[NX6 3.13.1]

9.1 Assessing the Threat


The first step in the development of an effective security program is to assess the threat against the company, its personnel, aircraft, and facilities. Threats may relate to the nature of the company’s business, where that business is conducted, the nationality of the company or of company aircraft, the profile of passengers carried, and the value of goods carried.

Information on the various kinds of threats Acme Corp Flight Department is subject to will come from a variety of sources. The Director of Aviation will maintain an ongoing assessment of threat to security within the area of company operations. This assessment will be developed in consultation with:

a. Company security officials

b. National and local security officials

c. National and local law enforcement officials

d. National and international business aviation associations

e. Local and foreign media reports

f. Company officials posted in foreign locations

9.2 Preventive Measures

Preventive security measures seek to prevent:

a. Unauthorized access to company aircraft and facilities

b. Unauthorized introduction of weapons and explosives onto company aircraft and into company facilities

c. Use of company aircraft to commit other unlawful acts, such as the transport of illicit drugs

Acme Corp Flight Department flight information (i.e., times, dates, destinations, passenger lists, etc.) should be treated as proprietary and shared only with those persons having a reason to know.

9.2.1 Hangar Security

a. Positive identification should be made of personnel entering the confines of the hangar/ramp areas

b. Visitors should be scheduled as a group, when possible, and escorted by an employee

c. Flight crew should wear their IBAC ID badges while in the hangar facilities

d. The points of entry into the hangar area will remain locked

e. Other entries into the facilities must remain supervised and restricted to Acme Corp Flight Department personnel or guests

f. Only flight operations employees are permitted to access ramp areas by passenger vehicle

g. Acme Corp Flight Department employees may permit access to the shared hangar through the office only for Acme Corp Flight Department passengers or guests

9.2.2 Aircraft Security

a. Aircraft unattended by Acme Corp Flight Department personnel must have their doors secured and should be parked in areas not conducive to vandalism or sabotage. Additionally, to preclude the possibility of accidental damage by vehicles or taxiing aircraft, company aircraft should be positioned in well lighted areas and/or in areas where they are clearly visible. If local conditions require enhanced security, experienced personnel should be retained

b. Complete interior and exterior inspections should be made prior to each new complete start up cycle of an unattended aircraft

c. Unless hangared in company facilities, when the aircraft doors are open, the aircraft shall not be out of visual range of a company lineman, technician, or crewmember

d. When the aircraft is being serviced, at least one company lineman, technician, or crewmember shall be in the immediate vicinity

e. When operating an aircraft APU, a crewmember or company technician shall be in the aircraft or in the immediate vicinity

f. When airport security is limited suspect, the PIC must ensure the aircraft is airworthy prior to departure. Measures to consider include but are not limited to: locking doors, emergency exits, fueling panels, maintenance access doors, arming security devices, taping cabinets and access panels, and disconnecting batteries and start connectors

g. Any maintenance or line personnel not associated with Acme Corp Flight Department who board the aircraft must be accompanied by a crewmember

h. Crewmembers should monitor fueling. If malicious intent is suspected, crews should determine, either directly from the truck pump or from fuel samples taken by the FBO, that the fuel is pure

i. When operating away from company facilities, the crew should always leave a local contact telephone number with the FBO

9.2.3 Accepting Material for Transport on Company Aircraft

When Acme Corp Flight Department is requested to accept unaccompanied packages for transport on company aircraft, the following must occur:

a. Acme Corp Flight Department employees should have prior clearance from the Director of Aviation and/or the appropriate executive

b. The Pilot in Command (PIC) must approve loading of the package prior to placing it on the aircraft

c. The identity of the person delivering or picking up the package must be known or verified

d. Any suspicious package should be left undisturbed and the proper authorities notified

9.3 Responsive Measures

[NX6 2.9.2]

a. In the case of a hijacking or bomb threats, the PIC will follow the procedures set out in the Emergency Response Program

b. In the case of other unlawful acts, the PIC should contact the responsible law enforcement agencies

9.4 Security Checklists

The PIC must ensure that destination airport(s) and surroundings on a given itinerary do not present a threat to air safety. Corporate security and when flying internationally, local embassies and the state department should be used as valuable resources. If civil or political situations deteriorate while away from home base, the PIC and/or Acme Corp Flight Department will take appropriate action to protect the company’s passengers and aircraft. The table below describes safety actions to be taken for various threat levels. For Orange and Yellow levels, actions for both that level and lower levels should be taken.


Example security threat list

Acme Corp Flight Department will provide its crews with assessments of the security situation by local specialists in countries where there is a local presence. Whenever possible the aircraft should be hangared for stays in foreign countries. The crew should contact Acme Corp Flight Department for this assistance.


Where to start

If your company has a security department, it might be a good idea to bring what we have in our example chapter and start from there.

Our example manual might cover more topics than you need, or maybe not enough. But it will get you started.


How to start

With each chapter it is a good idea to:

  1. Talk it over with your team, get their ideas on how to best accomplish the chapter's goals given your unique situation. All ideas are worth considering, write them down in a way the person offering it agrees fully captures the idea.
  2. Give the team time to digest the proposals.
  3. Ask the people with the right background to massage the ideas into concise concepts, then have your best wordsmith turn those concepts into paragraphs. The paragraphs need to be in plain spoken sentences, easy to read, and written at the fifth grade level of comprehension.
  4. Present the ideas to the group. Listen to any objections and seek consensus. Repeat the entire process if needed, but understand that the person in charge will eventually make a decision that becomes department policy. At the very least, stress that each policy can be tested on a trial basis and looked at again in the future.


Word file

You can download a Microsoft Word "docx" file of this chapter here: Acme Corp Operations Manual Chapter 9 - Security Procedures.

Remember, this is your blank canvas to customize as you see fit.