Inside the World's Most Secure Airport - Ben Gurion


13 Jan 2022

The queues at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport begin when travellers are still in their vehicles, shortly after getting off the highway, at what appears to be a multi-lane toll booth. Instead of a toll collector, however, travellers are greeted by two security guards.- one asks where they’re coming from, and another stands nearby with a finger on the trigger of a machine gun.

Ben Gurion International Airport, or Lydda Airport as it is sometimes referred to, is the largest international airport in Israel. Before 1973, the airport was known as Lod Airport when the name changed to honour David Ben Gurion who was Israel’s first prime minister. The airport is operated by the Israel Airports Authority (IAA), a government-owned corporation that manages all public airports and border crossings in the State of Israel.

Aerotime Hub

Ben Gurion Airport is one of the world’s most secure air travel hubs. No one has been killed or even injured as a result of terrorism at the Tel Aviv airport for the past 44 years. Nor has any departing plane been attacked during that time.

The airport has multiple layers or “rings” of security and the entire process from arrival at the gates to departure is an ordeal in itself.


The entry checkpoints are heavily guarded by Uzi-armed soldiers and inspectors who review documents of all cars, taxis, buses and trucks that enter these points. In case of any slight suspicion, the vehicles, including the passengers are searched further.

Middle East Eye

Plainclothes armed personnel patrol the area outside the building, and hidden surveillance cameras operate at all times

Passenger Interview

All passengers are interviewed by security personnel trained by the Israel Aviation Authority in conjunction with Israeli intelligence and security agencies. Interviewers, who often are students with some military combat experience, look for such warning signs as nervousness; lack of a concrete reason for travelling into, out of, or through Israel; and suspicious travel history. "Risky" passengers may be sent to private rooms for questioning and searches. Employees are regularly tested by undercover colleagues.

Passengers are asked standard questions like, "What do you do for a living?", ''Why did you come to Israel?'' , "Did you pack your own bags?", all this while the security agent checks for the passenger's reactions. Additionally, further odd questions like reasons of the visit to various countries stamped in the passport or higher/secondary education details might be asked.

The checks wouldn't just end there. There's a possibility that the officials might ask you to open your Email or Facebook pages for inspection. Several Palestinian-Americans and known Palestinian sympathizers have been subjected to this new type of search, and have been refused entry to Israel.

Dubbed as "ethnic profiling"- the Israeli officials deem it to be a necessary evil to maintain security through such extreme methods have been strongly refuted by the western world.

On completion of the interview, a barcode is stamped at the back of each passport that starts with a number from 1-6. If the number starts with ''1''- the passenger is deemed ''very low risk''. Number ''6'' deems the passenger to be a ''high risk'' and would be subjected to further stringent screening.

A level-6 threat | Tumblr

The Supreme Court once said democracy should protect itself. Aviation should protect itself. If you don’t profile, you’ll lose aviationNerri Yarkoni, the former head of Israel’s Aviation Authority and an expert on aviation security


Unattended baggage(s) are immediately dealt with and if not identified, are destroyed right away.


The airport, in collaboration with intelligence agencies and  Israel's military operations, monitors terrorist cells, bombs and external threats and check flight manifests as well.

The Times Of Israel


Innovative trash cans, made of impact-resistant plastics are placed at various places that explode upward in the event of an explosion.


In all El Al flights, "sky marshals" in plain clothes patrol the entire aircraft and can prevent suspicious passengers from boarding. Additionally, cockpit doors have two sets- the outer one made of steel—are secured once pilots have taken their seats, and remain so throughout the flight.

Sam Chui

What sets Israeli airport security apart form the rest of the airports around the world?

Israeli airport security is considered to be the best in the world. As ironical as it may sound, the airport hardly uses any super-advanced technology they use the same metal detectors as the ones used in the US and Europe. Israel has figured out that despite the several advancements in technology, it still is unfortunately possible to get weapons through by bypassing airport security. Hence they started focussing on the one main thing that others seemed to have neglected- human factors. Rather than focus on the objects that could be used as weapons, they started profiling people who could use them. And that explains the high level of scrutiny the passengers have to go through right from the entry checkpoints.

We can’t afford an attack. We aren’t a superpower. A terrorist attack at an airport is more than an attack, it’s a hit on the reputation of the entire country.You can’t have 100 percent protection of privacy and human rights and not have terror attacks.It doesn’t go together.Pinni Schiff, a former security chief for Israel’s Airport Authority

The Ben Gurion Airport is a testimony to the fact that 100% fool-proof safety protocols are possible in aviation. Here's the question though- Is it practically possible to implement worldwide at other major airport hubs like Dubai or Heathrow, that handle thrice the amount of passenger traffic? Perhaps not.

In Israel, passengers arrive at the airport three hours before departure, just to clear the stringent security, whereas, on the other hand, in some places in Europe, passengers are encouraged to arrive a mere one hour before travel- the latter reportedly improving travel efficiency.

In conclusion, to have a fast, efficient and secure system, elements of the strictest security system has to be integrated with those of the fastest.

The New York Times

Did you know? El Al, the national carrier of Israel, is the only commercial airline to equip an anti-missile defence system in its planes to protect them from surface-air missiles and is considered as one of the safest airlines.


COVER: ET TravelWorld

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A passenger enters the American Airlines' cockpit and damages the controls


13 Jan 2022

A man entered the cockpit of a Miami-bound plane in Honduras, Central America and caused damage while the aircraft was at the gate. As per American Airlines, the alleged incident happened during boarding for Flight number 488 from Ramon Villeda Morales International Airport in San Pedro Sula to Miami International Airport.

In the statement, Airline said that the flight deck of the Boeing 737-800 was open when the unidentified passenger went in. The passenger was apprehended with the help of employees onboard and ultimately taken into custody by law enforcement.

A passenger enters American Airline Cockpit (Picture Credit: Flying Magazine)

The flight was initially set to depart San Pedro Sula at 2:58 PM (GMT-5), but American Airlines said it was forced to send another plane and planned to depart about six-and-a-half hours after the scheduled time. There were 121 customers and six crew onboard the original flight.

"After damaging the plane’s controls, the passenger tried to climb out of the cockpit’s open window. Crew members intervened and the individual was ultimately apprehended by local law enforcement. We applaud our outstanding crew members for their professionalism in handling a difficult situation. "Sarah Jantz, Spokesperson, American Airlines

The reason for the attack wasn't given, although airlines have been dealing with a surge in incidents involving uncontrollable passengers amid the Covid-19 Pandemic especially as personnel are now tasked with enforcing mask rules and other Covid-related protocols. Also, in September, an American Airlines passenger opened the emergency exit of a plane that landed in Miami and stepped onto the wing, before being arrested.

San Pedro Sula International Airport (Picture Credit: fly away simulation)

In 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a report that it received more than 5,980 complaints of unruly passengers. The agency said it received 4,290 masks-related incident reports last year and there were 1,075 investigations initiated more than five times as many as in 2020.

American Airlines is a wholly-owned airline subsidiary of American Airlines Group Incorporated. With hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Washington DC and Tokyo, American Airlines operate an extensive network including domestic and regional services within North America and international services to Europe, Asia Pacific, Central America and South America.

The carrier was incorporated from The Aviation Corporation, formed into American Airlines in 1934. The carrier was the founding member of the OneWorld Alliance and introduced SABRE in 1959.

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GMR Infra listed as a pure-play airport business company


12 Jan 2022

GMR infra limited started trading as India’s first pure-play airport company on January 11, 2021. With this development, for the first time, investors now have the opportunity to invest in the airport sector in the country. The existing shareholders of GMR Infrastructure will receive 1 equity share of the face value of INR 5 (per share) of GMR Power and Urban Infra Limited for holding 10 equity shares of INR 1 (per share) of each GMR Infrastructure Limited.

The trading started after the demerger of the non-airports business of GMR Infra into GMR Power and Urban Infrastructure Limited (GPUIL). The demerger took place through a vertical split and resulted in listed companies GIL and GPUIL and mirror shareholding of both. All the existing shareholders of GIL will become shareholders of GPUIL in the same proportion. GPUIL shares will start trading independently on the stock exchange in February 2022, after approvals from SEBI/stock exchanges.

Logo of GMR Infrastructure Limited (Picture Credit: Jagrutti)

GMR Infrastructure Ltd (GIL) has become the only pure-play airport platform with strong cash flow generation potential. The demerger also facilitates strategic partnerships at different platforms allowing businesses to raise capital and leverage synergistic advantages.

GIL’s airport portfolio has around INR 18.2 crores per annum passenger capacity (pre-Covid) in operation and is under development. The operating airports include IGIA in Delhi, RGIA in Hyderabad, Mactan Cebu International Airport in the Philippines (in partnership with Megawide), and Medan Airport, Indonesia (with Indonesia’s Angkasa Pura II).

Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International Airport is operated by GMR (Image Courtesy - The New Indian Express)

The greenfield projects under development include Mopa in Goa and Heraklion International Airport in Crete, Greece, (in partnership with GEK Terna). It will build Bhogapuram greenfield airport in Andhra Pradesh. It has also signed the concession agreement to the commission, operationalising and maintaining the civilian enclave at the Bidar Airport in north Karnataka.

While GIL has recently completed construction of the new terminal building of the Clark International Airport in the Philippines along with its consortium, has also bagged the Bhogapuram greenfield airport project in Andhra Pradesh. It has also inked a concession agreement to commission, operationalize and maintain the civilian enclave at the Bidar airport in north Karnataka.

GIL had on December 23 said it has received approval from the National Company Law Tribunal for the restructuring plan involving the demerger of the non-airport business.

GMR Infrastructure had unveiled the rejig plan on August 27, 2020, to simplify the corporate holding structure and to attract sector-specific global investors.

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5G and Airline Safety - what is the buzz and where exactly does the case stand today?


12 Jan 2022

Safety has, and will always be aviation's top priority. Ever since the news of the 5G network rollout made news, aviation agencies and airline operators have been on the run claiming possible risk of interference to frequencies utilized by aircraft equipment known as radio altimeters.

Aerotime Hub

Reportedly, the aviation fraternity wrote in a November 18 letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that “Air cargo and commercial air travel will likely cease at night and in any weather where the pilot cannot see the runway” if the interference issue isn’t addressed.

Subsequently, on December 7, the FAA issued an airworthiness directive and new Safety Alerts for Operators (SAFOs), outlining the potential restrictions and citing “unsafe conditions” that required action before the January 5 5G implementation “because radio altimeter anomalies that are undetected by the aircraft automation or pilot, particularly close to the ground could lead to loss of continued safe flight and landing.

Does the C-band spectrum really affect onboard instruments and cause subsequent disruptions in flight operations? Well, certain studies with evidence beg to differ.

What do the facts and figures say?

Reportedly, around 40 countries in the world already use 5G in the C-Band with no apparent disruption in airline operations and apparently, over thousands of flights operate out of the US to these countries. Some of these include Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Oman, China, Japan and Hong Kong to name a few. In fact, in some of these countries, 5G signals use radio waves that are much closer to those used by aviation equipment without causing harmful interference.

5G and Aviation

According to these reports, real-world studies and subsequent evidence points to the fact that 5G C-Band can be safely used without causing harmful interference to aviation equipment. The reports are a culmination of years of study and technical analysis by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), including material submitted by the aviation industry, and over 17 years of analysis by international regulators.

2. According to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, no risk of unsafe 5G interference has been found in Europe despite 5G being permitted at the same or higher power levels-similar to the spectrum in the US.

5G and Aviation

3. 5G networks use a set of radio waves called ‘C-band spectrum’ which apparently operate safely and without causing harmful interference to aviation equipment. Reportedly, the aviation industry requested a buffer between 5G and radio altimeters. The FCC and the wireless industry more than doubled it and brought it to 220Mhz.

4. Reportedly, the United States Military has been using similar radio waves for operations that are 10,000x more powerful than C-band 5G without causing harmful interference to radar systems.

The RapidPill

The flip side...

In response to the anticipated interference issues, in December 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued two airworthiness directives (ADs) that would severely restrict the operation of all types of civil aircraft, including commercial transport, airplanes, business, regional and general aviation airplanes, and both transport and general aviation helicopters equipped with radio altimeters.

In a survey conducted by Airlines for America (A4A), the reports show that had the safety restrictions been in place since 2019, the following would have taken place:

345,000 U.S. airline passenger flights would have been delayed, diverted, or cancelled5400 cargo flights would have been delayed, diverted, or cancelled.$1.59 billion per year in disruption costs for passengers in the form of lost time, productivity and wages.

These do not take into account the cascading ripple effect to not only airline operations but the economy-wide supply chain as a whole. Delays and cancellations are bound to have ripple effects as subsequent flights are either delayed or cancelled.

Airport Industry Review

Now that we have the audience divided over the subject of safety on 5G C-Band, what are your thoughts on the same? Will, there really be an active interference from these radio waves or is it too early to speculate? An alternative to this perhaps? Let us know.


COVER: Screen Rant

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SpiceJet's appeal in winding-up case rejected by Madras HC


12 Jan 2022

SpiceJet's appeal against the judgment issued by the Single-judge bench in December 2021 stands rejected by the Madras High Court. After failing to pay USD 24 million in dues to a Swiss aircraft maintenance business, Justice R. Subramanian ordered the airline's dissolution.

A division bench comprising judges Sathi Kumar Sukumara Kurup and Paresh Upadhyay, however, extended a stay order on the judgment till January 28, allowing SpiceJet to approach the Supreme Court.

MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Operations) provider SR Technics is seeking USD 24 million in unpaid fees relating to engine maintenance on the airline’s Boeing 737 fleet. SpiceJet maintains that SR Technics did not have the authorization of the civil aviation authority in India to conduct maintenance.

The Winding-up Appeal Case

The case revolves around the aircraft maintenance agreement between SpiceJet and Switzerland-based SR Technics signed in 2011. In total, SR Technics raised seven invoices in 2013. SpiceJet wanted to defer the payment. At this point, Credit Suisse, Switzerland, came to its rescue.

SpiceJet provided a certificate of acceptance of the invoices raised by SR Technics, signed bills of exchange, endorsed by the airline's banker. Basis these, Credit Suisse paid SR Technics on SpiceJet's behalf. And SR Technics assigned all its present and future rights to receive payments under the agreement to Credit Suisse.

The non-payment of dues worth USD 24 million, claimed by Credit Suisse, prompted it to move to court with a winding-up plea. In response, SpiceJet argued that the alleged debt owed to SR Technics wasn't legally enforceable, and there can't be a winding-up order under the Companies Act, 1956.

According to the petitioner, SpiceJet had reached an agreement with SR Technics for MRO services for 10 years in November 2011. SpiceJet lawyers argued that the MRO firm didn’t have valid authorizations from the Indian civil aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), between 2009 and early 2015. 

Spokesperson of SpiceJet was quoted by Mint, the Madras high court has agreed to extend the application of stay order till January 28, 2022. The company is examining the order and will take appropriate remedial steps as per the legal advice received.

The Ajay Singh-led airline also faces a lawsuit at the Delhi High Court from aircraft lessor Goshawk and its trustee Wilmington Trust SP Services Dublin Ltd. regarding unpaid dues. The Court is set to hear the case again in February.

This development comes when Indian airlines have been reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic, which has eroded air passenger traffic and impacted revenues. Indian airlines are expected to report a combined net loss of INR 25,000-26,000 crore in FY22 and would require additional funding of INR 45,000-47,000 crore between FY22 and FY24 to sustain operations, according to data from credit rating agency ICRA.

Know About the Parties Involved

SpiceJet is an Indian low-cost airline headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana. It is the second-largest airline in the country by the number of domestic passengers carried, with a market share of 13.6% as of March 2019. The airline operates 630 daily flights to 64 destinations, including 54 Indian and 15 international destinations from its hubs at Delhi and Hyderabad.

Credit Suisse Group AG is a global investment bank and financial services firm founded and based in Switzerland. Headquartered in Zürich, it maintains offices in all major financial centres around the world and is one of the nine global "Bulge Bracket" banks providing services in investment banking, private banking, asset management, and shared services.

SR Technics is a world-leading MRO service provider for aircraft, engines, and components along with engineering services and training. Whether you are an airline, aircraft leasing company, OEM, or component trading company, our solutions are tailored to fit your needs.

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Indian aviation watchdog issues revised guidelines for Covid infected crew members

Radhika Bansal

12 Jan 2022

Flight and cabin crew who exhibit moderate to severe symptoms of Covid-19 will have to undergo special medical examinations and obtain a certificate that they have clinically recovered before they can rejoin work, the country’s civil aviation regulator DGCA said in fresh guidelines.

The special medical exam will be held at one of the Indian Air Force boarding centres after complete clinical recovery, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a circular posted on its website on Monday, January 10.

DGCA releases guidelines for covid positive aircrews. (Image Courtesy - Hindustan Times)

“Such pilots can be considered for unrestricted flying provided their clinical examination and laboratory investigations reveal no finding that can cause a functional deficit,” the circular said. “Once declared ‘fit for flying’ at the IAF Boarding Centre, the aircrew can commence flying only after DGCA Medical Assessment is issued.”

If the isolation of a crew member was more than 14 days, he or she will be examined by a DGCA-certified class 1 medical examiner, who will have to issue a cure certificate, the regulator said. “The aircrew can commence flying only after DGCA medical assessment is issued.”

Aircrew members who experience mild symptoms can remain in home quarantine for seven days after onset of symptoms and no fever for three days. “There is no need for testing after the home isolation period is over” in such cases, the circular said.

A special medical exam will be held at one of the Indian Air Force boarding centres after complete clinical recovery

Asymptomatic aircrew will undergo home isolation, and on completion of seven isolated days, the aircrew can be declared fit for unrestricted flying by his or her company doctor, provided their clinical parameters are normal.

“The cure certificate issued by the company doctor or concerned specialist will have to be sent to DGCA medical cell for inclusion in the crew’s previous medical record,” the circular stated. DGCA said these guidelines will be effective from 15 January 2022 for three months or unless revoked/ suspended by them.

Click here for the DGCA circular dated 6th January 2022.