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Aviation Security

Aviation Security

Aviation security staff deal with air rage, drunkenness, assault, smuggling and crime, as well as the threat of national and international terrorism

What’s involved?

Aviation security staff deal with air rage, drunkenness, assault, smuggling and crime, as well as the threat of national and international terrorism. Other security concerns include stowaways, espionage, people-trafficking, illegal immigration, theft, sabotage, hijack and environmental protests. The primary objective of aviation security is to safeguard passengers, crew, ground personnel and the general public against acts of unlawful interference perpetrated in flight or within the confines of an airport. Aviation security officers have two broad responsibilities:

  1. to detect prohibited items, including unauthorised weapons, explosives and incendiary materials, then
  2. to prevent these being carried onboard an aircraft or into a security restricted area.

As well as key attributes for any security screener, the most significant difference between domestic security and aviation security is the use of technologies that support the underpinning knowledge, like X-ray machines, explosive detection techniques, biometrics and a host of others. Using such technology, all unknown cargo must be screened to ensure that it does not carry any prohibited articles.


Finding employment

Airports, airlines, air cargo and in-flight supplies organisations and aviation security companies have their own recruitment systems, and applications should be made directly to the relevant organisation.

To read about the variety of other aviation-related careers available, click here

Skill up while serving

Most Service people spend a great deal of their lives thinking about, planning and implementing security in a variety of environments, and so have a great deal of experience in this field. Part of basic and more advanced training in some parts of the Forces is the accumulation of units leading to security-related National and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (N/SVQs). 

The personal qualities that equip people to serve in the Forces, which are then developed during their military training, are highly relevant. Most Service people will possess many of the skills that security employers look for, and that are very transferable to this sector:

  • you should be physically fit and able to patrol an area, taking note of what you see and then writing a report
  • the ability to work as part of a team is critical, as are common sense, integrity and courage
  • you should be able to react to the unexpected, and be self-reliant and self-confident.

Get qualified!

Aviation security training may be roughly divided into five main groups:

  1. managers
  2. instructors
  3. cargo and in-flight supplies
  4. aircrew
  5. ground security staff.

Training is generally carried out by qualified instructors in large aviation companies or by a few specialist training providers for smaller organisations without this in-house capability. Students will usually be nominated for a course by their employer – depending on the role they are performing – and it is very unusual for somebody not employed in aviation security to attend a course. So the message is: find the job before attending a course. All students should be subject to criminal record and/or counter-terrorist checks.

Via its aviation security training, the Department for Transport (DfT) provides aircrew aviation security instructors with the necessary information to enable them to train flight and cabin crews on aviation security; details are published on its website (see 'Useful info'). The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is responsible for developing, alongside the industry, new or revised syllabuses for aviation security training, and submitting these to the DfT for approval. It also has responsibility for training aviation security instructors and managing the UK list of certified instructors. Full details of training courses, learning aids and approved training providers can be downloaded from the CAA website​

Ongoing training should include emergency procedures and annual refresher courses.