Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

Author Bio ▼

James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry.James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
April 16, 2020


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Training spotlight: Security in aviation

We speak to Wilson James on why it has expanded its dedicated aviation security training division, and the new challenges airport security teams have been faced with over the past year or two.  


Can you tell us a little more about the expansion of your security training in aviation?

Airport-CyberSecurity-20Training has grown significantly for Wilson James in the last two years. We have expanded our external portfolio to a number of aviation entities and our continuing growth has benefited as a result of the QA framework. We are continuously seeking to build on this success by expanding our training service across UK aviation.

Our training provision includes delivering training needs analysis, formal classroom training, practical training and workplace-based standards performance monitoring. It covers roles from security officer, all the way through to supervisory and management levels. Drawing on our depth of aviation experience and our wider portfolio of contracts has allowed us to provide this training offer.

Additionally, the expansion of our training team and the wealth of knowledge and operational experience within the team allows us to deliver a wider suite of training courses than previously offered. All of these deliverables are underwritten by our compliance team.

Why have you decided to expand the training at this time (the announcement happened in early March)?

Wilson James’s rapid growth in the aviation industry has led to increased interest from UK airports to receive our training and compliance. This has enabled us to invest in this function to deliver industry-leading training with our partners.

The Wilson James strategy of ‘Welcome, Secure and Efficient’ is the driving force behind our partnerships within the aviation industry. Our reputation has, in turn, led to increased interest from external clients about our offer, as well as word of mouth recommendations from existing clients and industry colleagues.

What have been the biggest challenges for security teams at airports over the past couple of years? Is there anything new that has recently come into view?

The situation regarding Covid-19, restrictions in social distancing, reduced operational capacity, maintaining the mental and physical wellbeing of our staff both operational and those in furlough, are some of our biggest challenges currently. We are proud to be a people-focused organisation and are committed to our teams. Maintaining open communications channels and upholding staff morale has been challenging, but critical through this unprecedented disruption.

READ: How Wilson James provided security and logistics support to the building of NHS Nightingale

Prior to this situation, new technology for hold baggage screening was introduced by all airports in the last 18 months. This has resulted in the upskilling of all security staff in this screening methodology. Ongoing advances in technology and the roll-out of new screening equipment for passenger cabin baggage screening will also result in a large-scale training programme for our internal staff and our external clients. We will work with our partners to support training through the GEN III CAPEX programme.

From a compliance perspective, the reduction in the aviation threat level and changes that this will bring means procedures may need to be altered or adapted swiftly to accommodate social distancing measures. The DfT has provided good advice on how procedures may be adapted while maintaining regulatory compliance. The Covid-19 pandemic is fluid and evolving daily, but the aviation industry is very adept at reacting to change at short notice. Airport security is traditionally very ‘hands-on’ because of the terrorist threat at large, but as the current threat is virus-related, we may need to consider whether technology should replace some of the more physical aspects.


What is your current perspective on the training levels and standards for security in aviation? Where are the gaps?

The standards for security in aviation have now been professionalised as a result of the introduction of the QA framework and this, in turn, has improved standards in training delivery. Wilson James has been accredited as an Outstanding QA provider. There is still work to be done in the areas of security management, customer service and disability awareness, to name a few.

And finally, do you perceive cyber to now be a bigger threat than physical security, or at least on a similar level?

Threats are founded on intent and capability; both the intent and capability have been proven in the cyber threat domain. Wilson James benefits from being supported by the Operational Support Centre, a 24/7, 364-day horizon-scanning intelligence and contingency planning service from which our partners can benefit.

Find out more about the dedicated aviation training for security staff on offer from Wilson James.

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