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India: Chennai International Airport may encounter trouble in upcoming ICAO security audit

With a security audit by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at Chennai International Airport less than two months away, officials of the country’s civil aviation regulator are on edge.

A recent internal audit conducted by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) uncovered that a lot of the practices that were being followed at the said airport were not in line with international standards set forth by the ICAO.

People in the know disclosed that problem areas were security equipment, improper barricading of the airport periphery, cargo safety and documentation of records.

The ICAO audit is of utmost importance, as India’s entire security aviation system would get a score based on the performance of Chennai airport, which has been selected as the sample airport. The security audit’s score would then determine India’s expansion plans in the aviation sector globally.

The last time the ICAO did an on site audit of India’s aviation security systems was back in February of 2011 at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, which garnered a score of 89%.

The ICAO audit of Chennai Airport in March would indicate how internationally prescribed standards are being complied to based on instructions given by the BCAS.

It has already submitted a comprehensive report on the internal audit to the state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI), which is the airport operator of Chennai Airport, long considered to be one of the busiest airports in the country.

BCAS has requested the AAI to observe the norms and apply its recommendations before the international audit team touches base in India.

The internal audit report also raises the issue regarding equipment being utilized for security clearance of baggage at the airport. BCAS has also questioned cargo safety at the Air Cargo complex at the airport.

An appalling finding is about the subletting of a portion of the “cargo area” to an airline. Sources claim this is a major security concern as the space apportioned for cargo operations is meant exclusively for regulated cargo agents, who have direct access to aircraft.

For the security audit of India’s aviation system, the ICAO team will review areas such as legislative and regulatory architecture, performance of security personnel and security training etc. ICAO conducts periodic audits of member countries and carefully evaluates their implementation of norms of security and safety measures in handling all areas of civil aviation security and safety.

Back in 2012, the ICAO placed India in its notorious list of 13 worst performing nations in terms of air safety.

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