Airport attacks: The critical role airports can play in combatting terrorism

Jacques Duchesneau, Senior Advisor, Civil Aviation Security and Aviation Terrorism and Maxime Langlois, Director, Corporate Services, Aviation Strategies International

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Abstract: This paper uses a unique database of aviation terrorist attacks to analyse the phenomenon of airport attacks. The evolution of aviation terrorism is described with a particular focus on airport attacks, using empirical and historical data to form a factual baseline for historical analysis and policy recommendations. While statistics demonstrate that airport attacks have been perpetrated steadily since the 1970s, with no major fluctuations in recent years, they also demonstrate that airport attacks may have the potential to become more lethal than ever before. Analyses and guidance are also provided on how to better protect airports, suggesting that the hardening of aircraft as targets has actually transferred considerable security risk to airports. To effectively secure the air transportation system, a three-pronged approach to aviation security is proposed, transcending airport security and reaching far beyond aviation in its scope.


Keywords: airport, aviation, security, terrorism


Jacques Duchesneau is Senior Advisor, Civil Aviation Security and Aviation Terrorism at Aviation Strategies International. He has served as Member of Parliament in the Québec National Assembly, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and Montreal’s Police Chief.


Maxime Langlois is Director, Corporate Services at Aviation Strategies International. He previously worked for INTERPOL, the United Nations and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada.

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