The first in-depth study of European airports, conducted by BEMOSA Consortium, indicates that airport personnel do not rely primarily on procedures or rules in emergency cases.
The study shows that there is a definite need to improve security decision-making procedures. This was reflected in the clearly observed problems of recognizing a threat and acting upon it.
The report indicates that there appears to be a gap between procedures and actual behaviour when a threat is recognized and especially when it is acted upon.
The study key findings:
- Only 53.1 percent of airport employees and 63% of security workers said they put complete trust in security technologies.
- Only 23.6% of airport employees and 58% of security workers said that when they saw something suspicious they alerted others.
- 54.3% of the workers and 40% of security personal never raised the alarm or called a security code.
“Although these are not final results, they illustrate the complexity of actual behaviour in a large organization such as an airport,” said Dr. Michele Mariani from the University of Modena e Reggio Emilia in Italy and scientific manager of BEMOSA. “There are complex social patterns taking place in airports that cannot be pictured solely on the basis of what rules, procedures and protocols expect.”
“There appears to be a gap between procedures and actual behaviour when a threat is recognized and especially when acted upon. It seems, that in such cases informal group behaviour is as important as formal procedures,” said Prof. Alan (Avi) Kirschenbaum from the Technion in Israel, a world expert in disaster management and initiator and coordinator of BEMOSA. “Cases in which procedures are not followed should not necessarily be viewed as a negative phenomenon.”
Kirschenbaum added that highly motivated security personnel show initiative and creativity in handling situations when procedures are not sufficient or relevant. He noted, however, that not following procedures was usually a result of lack of skills or training.