AVIATION SECURITY AND TERRORISM
For nearly four decades, the aviation sector had to face and respond to the threat
of terrorism in the form of frequent attacks on civil aviation. Air transport has
been a high-profile target for terrorist activities as it garners international
attention. While the number of attacks has declined significantly in light of
increased safety protocols, the threat has not. The emergence of violent
extremism and suicide terrorist present a very real and present threat to civil
aviation. The earlier attacks on the aviation industry were primarily focused
against aircraft inflight. However, the modern trend reflects a broader front of
attack with a target of causing mass fatalities.
There have been multiple instances of terrorist and other unlawful activities in
aircrafts and airports. Particularly after the events of September 11, 2001, the
issue of aviation security has
been highlighted. New and emerging threats to civil aviation are a constant cause
to the aviation community. Newer threats include carrying of dangerous
pathogens on board, usage of cyber technology to interfere with air navigation
systems, misuse of air defence systems etc. The International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO) has been addressing these threats for some time and
continues to do so on a global basis. There are some important international
instruments on this point. The global measures taken by ICAO and other bodies
is important to discuss from a regulatory perspective.
At the 33rd Session of the ICAO, held in 2001, ICAO adopted Resolution A33-1
titled “Declaration on misuse of civil aircraft as weapons of destruction and other
terrorist acts involving civil aviation”. A need for strengthening aviation security
worldwide was felt by the ICAO and it realized that a strong and viable aviation
security (AVSEC) programme is indispensable and that a uniform, global
approach to the implementation of aviation security standards is required.
Additionally, there must also be operational flexibility.
The first World War highlighted the importance as well as potential danger of
aviation activities. In 1944, the Convention on International Civil Aviation was
drafted at the International Civil Aviation Conference in Chicago in 1944.
Aviation law covers almost all legal issues affecting aircraft and airport
operations, including aircraft navigation and maintenance, air traffic control
safety, and pilot licensing requirements. Aviation law comprises of the business
aspects of airlines and general aviation activities and their regulation. Other
aspects like insurance law, commercial law, competition law also form part of
aviation law. Newer concerns also include security and environmental
regulations. Therefore, aviation security is one important sub-set of international
In understanding aviation security and terrorism, we must understand that target
of a terrorist attack is not particularly an airline or an airport, but a State or
Government. It is also the responsibility of a State to develop a robust counter-
terrorism strategy with proper implementation. There has to be proper
coordination internationally to detect the acts at the planning stage itself.
A turning point in aviation security was the dreadful 9/11 attack which was
carried out by hijacking four passenger airlines and crashing them on different
prominent points in the U.S. This attack changed the landscape of not just aviation
security but also counter-terrorism strategy in general. The balance between the
needs of security and needs of facilitation has been changed in the post 9/11 era.
It has been argued that there is a need for a new risk-management based approach
to aviation security. It is felt that the piecemeal approach by which the law on
civil aviation security has developed in the past needs to be superseded by a more
holistic approach which focusses of risk management.
The impact of 9/11 in terms of policy changes has been covered in Module I and
II of this course. In this module, we will be specifically looking at aviation
security in light of terrorist attacks and the growing field of counter-terrorism.
Focus would be on international instruments, role of ICAO and UN Security
Council and the Indian strategy to counter aviation security threats by posed by
4.2. IMPORTANT INSTRUMENTS
The increasing complexity of the global air transport system has highlighted the
need for safety concerns and redressal. To achieve a safe and secure air
transportation system, it is important to transition from reactive safety practices
to a proactive strategy to improve safety performance. There should be adequate
support for assisting states and aviation service providers in managing aviation
safety risks. Proactive safety management practices need to be adjusted in a
manner which takes into account factors that affect or are likely to affect their
implementation as well as taking into account the maturity of the aviation safety
oversight capabilities of States. Annex 19 to the Chicago Convention was adopted
in 2013, and consolidated existing material from Annexes 1, 6, 8, 11, 13 and 14
regarding the State Safety Programme (SSP), safety management systems (SMS)
and State safety oversight activities.
The Chicago Convention, 1944 does not particularly refer to ‘aviation security’.
However, it was later realised that in addition to the natural and inherent risks
associated with flight operation, civil aviation has also faced several other
extrinsic threats and dangers, for eg., man-made threats of terrorist activities,
hijacking or other unlawful interferences. The concept of “security” in the context
of civil aviation was developed and defined as “a combination of measures and
human and material resources intended to safeguard civil aviation against acts of
The Convention on International Civil Aviation (The Chicago Convention) of
1944 is considered as the “magna carta” of public international air law. ICAO has
been given the responsibility of regulating the technical aspects of international
civil aviation. ICAO looks into the issues of safety and navigation primarily; but
it has also started taking a lead on environmental and security issues. Standards
and Recommended Practices (SARPs) have also been promulgated by ICAO
under which 191 member states have an obligation of uniform application of
practices unless it is impracticable to comply.2 ICAO, under the Chicago
Convention also has law-making authority over high-seas. This tremendous
jurisdictional scope makes ICAO a true global governing body. ICAO is
considered to be one of the largest and most successful agency of the UN.3 Annex
17 to the Chicago Convention is the most important instrument on aviation
1 Annex 17 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, “Security: Safeguarding International Civil
Aviation from the Acts of Unlawful Interference”, Chapter 1, “Definitions”.
2 Chicago Convention, Article 38.
3 See generally, Anthony Sampson, Empires of The Sky: The Politics, Contests, and Cartels of World Airlines
38 (Random House 1984).
For aviation security, ICAO has developed a sound strategy using several
components such as Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP)4 and the Universal
Safety Overview Audit. Programme (USOAP). ICAO has also strived to promote
and apply the Safety Management System (SMS)5. SMS intends to mandate that
all safety-relevant measures and procedures are systematically applied,
implemented and documented by national civil aviation administrations. Annex
19 incorporates the SMS concept6. For states that may not have adequate
resources, ICAO also assists with technical cooperation projects to assist such
In 1998, the ICAO established the USOAP.
To tackle the growing concerns of safety and security in aviation, ICAO has
developed a number of treaties and other instruments to combat terrorist and other
acts of unlawful interference. Some of them are as follows:
• Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board
Aircraft, 1963 (Tokyo Convention)- It is considered to be the first
worldwide treaty on counter-terrorism. The Tokyo Convention does not
specifically criminalize any act endangering the safety of civil aviation, nor
does it create an obligation for extradition. Overall, the Convention covers
offences against penal law, and acts which may or do jeopardize the safety
of the aircraft or of persons or property therein or which jeopardize good
order and discipline on board. While this is a wide coverage, the
enforcement measure is minimal and non-obligatory.
4 Resolution A33-16, “Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP),” ICAO Doc. 9848, II-19. See Resolution A37-4,
“ICAO Global Planning for Safety,” Provisional Edition of the Final Resolutions of the 37th ICAO Assembly
(November 2010); Resolution A36-7, “ICAO Global Planning for Safety and Efficiency,” Doc. 9902.
5 See ICAO “Safety Management Manual,” Doc. 9859, 3rd ed. 2013.
6 Annex 19, “Safety Management” was adopted by the ICAO Council during its 198th session in February 2013
and became applicable on 14 November 2013; see A38-WP/82; ICAO Doc. AN 19. The SMS concept had
previously been made part of Annex 14, “Aerodromes” with effect from 2003 as a Standard for the Certification
of aerodromes, see Annex 14, vol. I, “Aerodrome Design and Operations,” Amendment 9, Doc. AN14-1/A/13.
• Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, 1970
(The Hague Convention)- The lacunas of the Tokyo Convention were
noticed by the ICAO Assembly and in 1970, the Hague Convention was
signed. The Convention primarily focuses on the act of hijacking and
criminalizes it. The important legal principle of aut dedere aut judicare has
been laid down in the Hague Convention. It is widely understood as
“extradition or prosecution”. The principle finds place in Article 7 of the
Hague Convention. The Hague Hijacking Convention is considered to the
first global treaty in the field of aviation which incorporates the principle
of extradition or prosecution.
• Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of
Civil Aviation, 1971 (Montreal Convention)- The Hague Convention
had a narrow scope as it only dealt with the offence of hijacking in
particular. It was important to negotiate and discuss other crimes against
civil aviation, such as sabotage. Sabotage is usually done through
detonation of explosives on board aircraft. To enlarge the scope of legal
framework, the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against
the Safety of Civil Aviation (popularly known as the Montreal Convention
or the Sabotage Convention) was adopted in the year 1971. The Montreal
Convention is wider in scope than the Hague Convention as it criminalizes
a number of acts against the safety of civil aviation.
• Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports
Serving International Civil Aviation, Supplementary to the
Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of
Civil Aviation (Airport Protocol, 1988)- The Hague and Montreal
Conventions focus mainly on the safety of aircraft in flight. Since most of
the legal framework focusses around the safety of aircraft in flight, it was
observed that the terrorist groups changed their tactics and focussed upon
targeting airport terminals.
Some major terrorist activities targeting airport terminals are:
o Attack in May 1972 by the members of the Japanese Red Army
revolutionary group where they targeted the Lod Airport in Tel Aviv.
o Attack in August 1973 at the Athens airport by the Black September
o Attack at Ankara airport in August 1982 by an Armenian terrorist group.
o In December 1985, coordinated attacks were carried out at Rome and
Vienna airports by the Abu Nidal organization.
The ICAO Assembly adopted a resolution on 8 October 1986 during its
twenty-sixth Session calling for a new instrument for the “suppression of
unlawful acts of violence at airports serving international civil aviation”.
A diplomatic conference was held in the year 1988, in which the Airport
Protocol was adopted. The Protocol is to be read with the Montreal
Convention and it extends the application of the Montreal Convention to
cover two additional offences:
• an act of violence against a person at an airport, and
• an act of destroying or seriously damaging the facilities of an airport or
aircraft not in service or disrupting the services of the airport.
• Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of
Detection, 1991 (MEX Convention)- its objective is to establish a
uniform international system, under which certain explosives will be
marked by one of the detection agents specified in the Convention, in order
to enhance their detectability by certain equipment. The MEX Convention
does not prohibit manufacture of arms or disarmament. It simply prohibits
the manufacture of unmarked plastic explosives. The MEX Convention
has contributed to aviation security by establishing an international regime
for the detection of plastic explosives.
• Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Relating to
International Civil Aviation, 2010 (Beijing Convention); Protocol
Supplementary to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful
Seizure of Aircraft, done at Beijing, 2010 (Beijing Protocol)- Attacks
in the US on 11 September 2001 prompted the 33rd session of the ICAO
Assembly to adopt Resolution A33-1 and directed the Council and the
Secretary General to address the new and emerging threats to civil
aviation, and, among other things, to review the adequacy of the existing
aviation security conventions. It criminalizes-
o an act of using civil aircraft in service as a weapon,
o an act of using certain dangerous substances to attack aircraft or other
o an act for the unlawful air transport of biological, chemical and nuclear
(BCN) weapons, and
o an act of cyber-attack on air navigation facilities
Usage of Biological, Chemical or Nuclear (BCN) weapons or similar
substances against civil aircraft is also considered as a newer grave threat
to aviation security and safety. Article 1 paragraph 1, paragraphs (g) and
(h) cover BCN weapons and similar substances.
• Protocol to Amend the Convention on Offences and Certain Other
Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, 2014 (Montreal Protocol of 2014)-
ICAO convened a diplomatic conference in 2014 which adopted a protocol
to amend the Tokyo Convention, primarily, to address the issues about
increase in severity and frequency of unruly behavior on board aircraft.
The main focus of this protocol is to modernize the Tokyo Convention, by
introducing more grounds of jurisdictional bases for criminal jurisdiction.
Additionally, ICAO has also developed Annex 17 to the Convention on
International Civil Aviation, “Security: Safeguarding International Civil Aviation
from the Acts of Unlawful Interference”, which has been amended from time to
time, to tackle the issue of safety and security in aviation.
Annex 17 To The Chicago Convention
The approach of ICAO has been a proactive one towards prevention of crime. In
1974, ICAO initiated the adoption of Annex 17 to the Chicago Convention.
Annex 17 contains specific technical measures to prevent terrorists and other
offenders from taking explosives, weapons or any other harmful devices on board
aircraft or into airports. It has been suggested that incorporation of such rules in
SARPs is more convenient and effective as a treaty is more cumbersome to adopt
and complex to amend.
Provisions for international aviation security were first disseminated as Annex 17
to the Chicago Convention in 1974, and since then have been improved and
updated 16 times. The 10th edition of Annex 17, which contains the 16th
amendment to the Annex, became applicable on 16 November 2018.
Role Of the International Civil Aviation Organization
ICAO is supported by a panel of experts who sit on the Aviation Security
(AVSEC) Panel to assist in finding solutions for the evolving threats to civil
aviation. AVSEC Panel was established in the late 1980s and is currently
comprised of 31 members. The 31 members are
nominated by States. The Panel also contains five observers from the industry.
The Panel works with the ICAO Secretariat and develops ICAO security policy.
It also frames responses to evolving threats and provides strategies for prevention
of future acts of unlawful interference.
Additionally, there is the International Explosives Technical Commission (IETC)
which focusses on keeping up to date the Technical Annex to the Convention on
the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection, 1988.
ICAO also undertakes efforts to improve upon the security of travel documents
and encourages quality training of security personnel. ICAO also supports
regional security initiatives to strengthen aviation security globally.
The security of travel documents is taken care of by the Machine-Readable Travel
Document (MRTD) Programme. ICAO has developed a global standard for
machine readable passports (MRPs) through this initiative. ICAO addresses
facilitation of international air transport by the Facilitation (FAL) Programme
which is managed by the Facilitation Section.
Aviation Security Audits
On the basis of recommendation of the High-level Ministerial Conference on
Aviation Security and the Assembly Resolution A33-1 adopted in 2001, the
ICAO Council adopted the Aviation Security Plan of Action in 2002. It included
the establishment of a comprehensive programme of regular, systematic,
mandatory and harmonized audits by ICAO in all Contracting States. The ICAO
Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP) was launched with the objective
that all contracting parties having benefitted from an initial audit by the end of
2007. The audits have been incredibly useful in the identification of aviation
security concerns and have also helped provide recommendations for their
resolution. The USAP has also garnered overwhelming support of the
Contracting States which have helped in efficient implementation. Aviation
Security oversight is the means by which States the means by which States ensure
effective implementation of their national security requirements in compliance
with the security-related Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs).
Some important elements of a State’s Security Oversight System are:
• Aviation Security Legislation
• Aviation Security Programmes and Regulations
• State Appropriate Authority for Aviation Security and its Responsibilities
• Personnel Qualifications and Training
• Provision of Technical Guidance, Tools and Security Critical Information
• Certification and Approval Obligations
• Quality Control Obligations
• Resolution of Security Concerns
ICAO has a security oversight programme called the Universal Security Audit
Programme (USAP). The ICAO Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP),
launched in June 2002, represents an important initiative in ICAO’s strategy for
strengthening aviation security worldwide and for attaining commitment from
States in a collaborative effort to establish a global aviation security system.
Some important audit areas as recognized by ICAO are:
• Regulatory Framework and the National Civil Aviation Security System
• Training of Aviation Security Personnel
• Quality Control Functions
• Airport Operations
• Aircraft and In-flight Security
• Passenger and Baggage Security
• Cargo, Catering and Mail Security
• Response to Acts of Unlawful Interference
• Security Aspects of Facilitation
Universal Aviation Security Audit Programme
After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, a ministerial conference of high
level on Aviation Security was held in February, 2002. This conference
recommended the adoption of an ICAO Aviation Security Plan of Action7 which
included the adoption of an Aviation Security Audit Programme. The Aviation
Security Plan by ICAO was adopted in June, 2002.
The USAP was launched in the year 2002 in November. It comprises of the
• regular, mandatory, systematic and harmonized aviation security audits of
all ICAO contracting States;
• audits conducted at both national and airport levels;
• evaluation of States’ aviation security oversight capabilities;
• evaluation of the actual security measures in place at selected key airports;
• audits to be carried out on the basis of a bilateral MOU signed between
each contracting State and ICAO; and
• coordination with security-related audit programmes at regional and sub-
4.3. SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS- 9/11 AFTERMATH
7 “High-level, Ministerial Conference on Aviation Security, 19–20 February 2002, Report.” For the Declaration
issued, XXVI Ann ASL (2001), 441.
Right after the 9/11 terrorist attack using four passenger airlines, the Security
Council of the United Nations passed Resolution 1373 (2001) on 28 September,
2001. The resolution is binding on all member states. In the Resolution, the
member states were encouraged to share their intelligence in order to combat
international terrorism. The resolution also calls on member states to make
changes in their municipal laws so that they can ratify all existing international
conventions on terrorism for uniformity. It also provides that states should ensure
that terrorist acts are classified as serious criminal offences in municipal laws and
regulations and that the seriousness of such acts is duly reflected in the sentences
prescribed. The resolution established the CTC, which consists of all 15 members
of the Security Council, to monitor the implementation of its provisions.
Some of the other important UN Security Council resolutions and their highlights
are as follows-
• The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1456 (2003) to include a
specific reference to human rights considerations while devising counter-
• The UN Security Council Resolution 1624 (2005) calls upon member
states to cooperate to strengthen he security of their international borders
by combating fraudulent documents and enhancing screening measures
• The UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014) requires effective border
management and stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters
• The UN Security Council Resolution 2322 (2016) calls upon member
states to share biometric and biographic information and encourages states
to consider extending access to the INTERPOL at strategic location such
• The UN Security Council Resolution 2309 (2016) expresses concern about
the vulnerability of civil aviation as an attractive target for terrorists. It calls
upon member states to take steps to strengthen implementation of the
4.4. INDIAN FRAMEWORK ON AVIATION SECURITY
The primary purpose of aviation security is to provide safety from intentional
man-made harm. There is a long history of criminal violence against civil
aviation, however, at the time Chicago Convention was drafted, such criminal
acts were not considered to be a major concern. At that time, people were mainly
concerned about the safety of flight and air navigation. There was a pressing issue
of rising number of incidents affecting security and the inability to gain
jurisdiction over criminals. The threat to aviation security is not only from the
acts of terrorism, but spans to a wide area of private and personal gain. The
solutions to these problems have ranged from various legal and technical
amendments in the existing regime. It is important to curb acts of unlawful
interference against civil aviation.
It is the role of a sovereign nation to provide security within its boundaries.
However, security is no longer treated as a sovereign function in the case of civil
aviation due to the global nature of airspace. Post 9/11, aviation security concerns
have heightened and ICAO has played a significant role in the entire process.
ICAO provides for an umbrella of regulation to assist the States in ensuring
aviation security. The Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP) was
launched by ICAO in the year 2002. It operates in a six year cycle to provide high
standards of security, training, quality control and certification of auditors.
International Aviation security is governed by the standards and
recommendations provided under the Chicago Convention.
The Indian Aviation Industry completed a century in the year 2011. The growth
of civil aviation in India has been tremendous. It is considered as one of the fastest
growing sectors in the world. With the growing industry, the threats faced to
aviation security are also a growing concern. Back in 1971, an Indian Airlines
Passenger Airliner named Ganga was hijacked and destroyed in the wake of war
between India and Pakistan. After another hijacking incident of 1976, the Pande
Committee was constituted which recommended the formation of the Bureau of
Civil Aviation Security in India. Consequently, the Bureau of Civil Aviation
Security (BCAS) was set up as a Cell in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation
(DGCA) in 1978.
The BCAS was reorganized into an independent department in 1987 under the
Ministry of Civil Aviation after the Kanishka Tragedy of 1985. Inquiry into the
Kanishka tragedy was done by the Kirpal Commission which submitted its report
identifying gaps in the aviation security procedure.
These incidents of hijacking and other unlawful interference led to increased
involvement of India with the ICAO on matters of aviation security. India
participated actively in the Diplomatic Conference on adoption of Protocol for
the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International
Civil Aviation (Montreal Supplementary Protocol,1988). In 1989, the Indian
Minister of Civil Aviation attended the Council Meeting of ICAO held in
February 1989 after the Pan Am crash at Lockerbie.
Regulatory Framework In India
Civil Aviation in India is governed through various domestic legislations in
addition to the international obligations of India. Some of the most important
legislations and regulations on civil aviation are as follows:
• The Aircraft Act, 1934
• The Aircraft Rules, 1937
• The Airports Authority of India Act, 1994
• The Civil Aviation Requirements (CARs)
• The Carriage by Air Act, 1972
• Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008
• Aircraft (Security) Rules, 2011
The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) is the nodal ministry responsible for the
of rules, regulations and policy for civil aviation in India. The MoCA has various
regulatory authorities under it for the smooth functioning of the various aviation
fields. The principal regulatory authorities are as follows:
• The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) enforces regulations
related to civil aviation. It is also responsible for regulation of air transport
services, air safety and airworthiness standards.
• The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is another important authority under
the MoCA. It creates, maintains, manages and upgrades civil aviation
• The Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) which monitors
performance standards relating to quality, continuity and reliability of
• The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is responsible for
maintenance of aviation security standards in line with national and
international obligations on air safety.
When it comes to aviation security, India follows the ICAO guidelines on safety
and Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). Furthermore, the
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) regulates the requirements of
safety of aircraft, including foreign aircraft operating in India. The Aircraft Rules
also provide for provisions for various aspects of aviation security.
A five-year plan for national aviation safety has been released by the DGCA for
2018-2022. It supports and promotes the improvement of aviation safety in India.
India is one of the first countries to have a State Safety Programme (SSP)
consistent with ICAO requirements. This National Aviation Safety Plan also
incorporates the Safety Enhancement Initiatives (SEI) contained in the Regional
Safety Plan of the Regional Aviation Safety Group Asia and Pacific Regions
(RASG-APAC). India’s National Aviation Safety Plan is in line with ICAO’s
Global Aviation Safety Plan. DGCA also releases CARs, which provide
mechanisms for reporting air accidents and reporting. Every aircraft operator is
required to formulate a flight safety manual and get it approved by the DGCA.
Bureau Of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)
The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security was initially set up in the Directorate
General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as a Cell in the year 1978. The Pande
Committee recommended the setting up of BCAS after the hijacking of the Indian
Airlines flight in 1976. The Cell had the following responsibilities:
• To coordinate efforts in Civil Aviation Security matters
• To monitor and inspect Civil Aviation Security matters
• To train personnel for Civil Aviation Security matters
After the Kanishka tragedy in June 1985, the BCAS was reorganized into an
independent department in 1987. It was brought under the Ministry of Civil
Aviation. BCAS is primarily tasked with laying down standards and measures in
respect of security of international and domestic civil flights and airports in India.
The primary functions of BCAS are as follows:
• Laying down Aviation Security Standards in accordance with Annex 17 to
Convention of ICAO for airport operators, airlines operators, and their security
agencies responsible for implementing AVSEC measures.
Monitoring the implementation of security rules and regulations and carrying out
survey of security needs.
• Ensure that the persons implementing security controls are appropriately
possess all competencies required to perform their duties.
• Planning and coordination of Aviation security matters.
• Conducting surprise/dummy checks to test professional efficiency and
• Conducting mock exercise to test efficacy of Contingency Plans and
preparedness of the various agencies.
Aircraft (Security) Rules, 2011
The Aircraft (Security) Rules, 2011 has been made by the Central Government in
exercise of the powers conferred by Section 4 read with Section 5 of the Aircraft
Act, 1934. The Rules define “acts of unlawful interference” in Rule 2 (1) (e)8.
The Suppression Of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Civil Aviation Act, 1982
The 1982 Act has been enacted to incorporate the international obligations of
India under the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the
Safety of Civil Aviation, 1971
(Montreal Convention). Section 39 of the Act deals with offences of committing
board an aircraft in flight. Section 3A also covers offences at airport.
8 “acts of unlawful interference” means acts or attempted acts to jeopardize the safety of civil aviation and air
(i) unlawful seizure of aircraft in flight;
(ii) unlawful seizure of aircraft on the ground;
(iii) hostage-taking on board aircraft or on aerodromes;
(iv) forcible intrusion on board an aircraft, at an aerodrome or on the premises on
an aeronautical facility;
(v) introduction on board an aircraft or at an aerodrome of a weapon or hazardous
device or material intended for criminal purposes;
(vi) communication of false information with a view to jeopardize the safety of an
aircraft in flight or on the ground, of passengers, crew, ground personnel or the general public, at an aerodrome
or on the premises of a civil aviation facility.
9 1) Whoever unlawfully and intentionally—
(a) commits an act of violence against a person on board an aircraft in flight which
is likely to endanger the safety of such aircraft; or (b) destroys an aircraft in service or causes damage to such
aircraft in such a
manner as to render it incapable of flight or which is likely to endanger its safety
in flight; or
(c) places or causes to be placed on an aircraft in service, by any means
whatsoever, a device or substance which is likely to destroy that aircraft, or to
cause damage to it which renders it incapable of flight, or to cause damage to it
which is likely to endanger its safety in flight; or
(d) communicates such information which he knows to be false so as to endanger
the safety of an aircraft in flight, shall be punished with imprisonment for life and
shall also be liable to fine.
(2) Whoever attempts to commit, or abets the commission of, any offence under sub-
section (1) shall also be deemed to be have committed such offence and shall be
punished with the punishment provided for such offence.
The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016
The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016 has been enacted to give effect to the Convention
for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, 1970 (The Hague
Convention). The Anti- Hijacking Act, 1982 was enacted earlier to give effect to
the provisions of the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of
Aircraft, 1970. The fact that India has signed the Protocol Supplementary to the
Convention at Beijing on the 10th day of September, 2010 which deals with
unlawful acts against Civil Aviation by new types of threats also require
comprehensive amendments to the 1982 Act. In this light, the Anti Hijacking Act,
2016 has been enacted which replaces the old Anti Hijacking Act of 1982.
The Act can be made applicable even if the offence is committed outside India
but the aircraft is registered in India or leased to Indians, or the offender is Indian,
or the offender is stateless but lives in India, or the offence is committed against
Indians. The Anti-Hijacking Rules, 2017 have been formulated under Section 20
(1) of the 2016 Act.
India’s National Aviation Safety Plan (2018-2022)
The DGCA has come up with a five-year National Aviation Safety Plan for 2018-
2022. It has been laid down with the objective of promoting and supporting
prioritization and continuous improvement of aviation safety in India. India is
one of the first countries to have a State Safety Programme (SSP) which is in line
with the ICAO requirements. The first State Safety Plan was introduced by the
DGCA in the year 2015. The effectiveness of the State Safety Plan was evaluated
and published in the Annual Safety Review 2016 and 2017, which provided basis
for the development of the National State Safety Plan for 2018-2022. India’s
National Aviation Safety Plan (NASP) incorporates the Safety Enhancement
initiatives (SEI) contained in RASG-APAC and is in line with ICAO’s Global
Aviation Safety Plan (GASP). NASP insists on incorporating the most
appropriate practices and technologies to address and reduce aviation security
Multiple incidents of hijacking, terrorism, unlawful interference etc., brought
about a change in international law to include provisions for regulating aviation
security. ICAO has played a crucial role in developing a comprehensive
mechanism and acts as a guide for matters related to aviation security in civil
ICAO has taken extensive measures to introduce relevant international
conventions as well as SARPs (Standards and Recommended Practices) in Annex
17 to the Convention. Aviation Security Manual as developed by ICAO is
provided to the States to assist them with Aviation Security. ICAO also provides
focused security training courses to its Member States. The UN General
Assembly has adopted the International Convention for the Suppression of the
Financing of Terrorism in 1999. It is aimed at enhancing international
cooperation among States in devising and adopting effective measures for the
prevention of the financing of terrorism.
Aircraft (Security) Rules, 2011 have been enacted particularly to address security
aviation industry. The 2011 rules have recently been amended in 2019 to include
updated threats to the aviation sector and to make the rules up to date and more
comprehensive. The Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 has also been replaced by a recent
2016 law to honour the international obligations of India under the 2010 Protocol.
Similarly, the 2020 amendment to
the 1934 Act has also been enacted to update the status of three important
regulatory bodies to grant them a statutory status. To conclude, the legislative
framework would need to be constantly updated in light of the advancements in
technology and innovation. It is also important that the laws be enforced properly
and effectively. For the aviation security concerns to be addressed properly, it is
important that there is a global as well as regional cooperation of all interested