The Bureau for Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is set to upgrade procedures that are used after a bomb call is received. The changes are being made to minimize inconvenience to the passengers and ensure regular flight schedule in the case of a hoax call without compromising on security.
Among the changes recommended is the criteria used by the bomb threat assessment committee (BTAC), formed at the airport after receiving a threat call, to judge the seriousness of a threat.
In 2013 and 2014, seven hoax calls were received which increased to 21 in 2015 and 2016 (till March). “We have to find a solution. After a call, we have a set of questions such as whether the caller has given specific details of location of bomb or details of flight. Based on the details, we declare call as specific and non-specific. We are trying to train call centers staff so that they can engage the caller and get a sense from caller by asking some tricky question,” a BCAS official said.
The airlines control room staff, airport operator and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) will be trained in dealing with callers and asking specific questions from them.
“Several times we receive a call after the departure of a flight. If the committee quickly decides the seriousness of the call, the aircraft can be searched at the destination instead of being called back. The bomber would never call to inform. We have to think practically,” the official added.
The BCAS has also sought stricter action against hoax callers under Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act in such cases.
“Usually, the police register a case under the Indian Penal Code and the caller gets bail easily and if convicted the punishment is not more than 2-3 years. But under this act, the punishment can be extended up to life imprisonment and we will be writing to the state police to register cases under this act if a passenger puts airport security at risk,” a BCAS official said.
The security agencies follow a fixed procedure to deal with bomb calls. After receiving the call, a bomb threat assessment committee is formed. The plane with all passengers on board is taken to the isolation bay where passengers are asked to de-board and the aircraft and luggage are checked. If the threat is serious then the aircraft is surrounded by the CISF and NSG commandos.