Why Security Seals are Important for Aviation

There is a high volume of cargo moving through an airport at any given time – whether it be people or goods. Without proper monitoring or detection devices, there is no way to know that the equipment, fuel, luggage, and other materials on board have not been tampered with. Security seals and associated devices have always been a key tool in tamper detection.

Various operations within the aviation industry require security, much more so than in the past. For example, cargo and luggage containers are sealed with plastic padlock seals to protect shipments, while carts accessed by onboard crew require a smaller seal which can be opening easily by hand. However, stronger seals are needed to protect valves, storage areas, and other less frequently accessed areas. Tamper evident tape and adhesive labels help seal stretch-wrapped cargo or cargo on pallets. Application goes as far as aircraft doors and hatches to deter and detect attempts of unauthorized entrance.

There are many different types of seals, each with their own procedures for handling, inspection, and disposal. There are key markings, colour codes, and other identifiers that make it so that people who are authorized to handle the items can do so, and there is clear evidence of attempts at unauthorized access.  They are apparent and can be quickly detected by trained personnel to easily observe a change in a seals initial application.

The aviation industry remains one of the most tightly-regulated industries which has only further developed over time. There are complex standards for maintenance, performance, safety, food, equipment, luggage, and so much more, that there is absolutely no room for error. The smallest deviation from safety standards can be disastrous for the airline company and dangerous for staff and passengers.

The impact of COVID-19 on Airlines

Since the beginning of 2020, more and more countries across the globe shut down borders and limit domestic travel as a response to the coronavirus outbreak. Aviation is of huge strategic and economic importance to the UK and the sudden and almost complete shutdown of passenger air travel due to COVID-19 had a severe economic impact on airlines, airports and air freight.

Aviation was naturally one of the first industries to be significantly affected, as national governments closed international borders to prevent non-essential travel. Thousands of holidaymakers and business travellers saw pre-booked flights get cancelled. This has resulted in the International Airport Transports Association (IATA) to predicate a loss in revenue of £20.1 billion for the UK aviation industry in 2020.

The safety of passengers and staff, along with the concern of transmitting the virus across borders has resulted in many governments restricting inbound and outbound travel, limiting access through air travel for millions of people. World Governments have implemented a ‘non-essential travel’ policy to limit the potential of the virus being brought and spread from external entry into the country.

More vigorous health screening at airports has been proposed as a long-term alternative, or an accompaniment, to quarantine measures. Heathrow Airport for example launched a temperature screening trial on 21 May. Another proposal is “health passports”, whereby facial biometrics are used to provide a digital certificate to verify whether the passport holder has had Covid-19. However, the reliability of Covid-19 tests has been questioned, with warnings that there is insufficient evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 are immune from a second infection.

These strategies may be a reasonable goal over the next 18 months, but they will take time to research, test and implement at full-scale. A short-term solution to assist in providing safety assurances to passengers may be implementing a site-wide security sealing strategy. This would aid in limiting access to areas for passengers and staff, enabling a track-and-trace system for belongings, and providing a sanitation indicator for rooms, cabinets and food and drink trolleys.

Aircraft Seal Solutions

Aircraft doors

Aircraft doors should be sealed whilst unattended to ensure that unapproved personnel has easy access whilst the flight is ongoing. Aircraft Seals can help to notify staff when an object or door has been tampered with. The Springlok seal is a sturdy pull-tight seal that provide for quick application and hand removal. They can be easily applied to the Aircraft door lock and cannot be reapplied once they are removed, thus giving a clear indicator of tampering for in-flight staff.

Non-residue Security Labels are a lower-grade seal that can be used to seal the seam of the overhead luggage compartments whilst the aircraft is in-flight. After a passenger has placed their luggage in the overhead compartments, staff can simply place a label over the seam of the door so that passengers are aware that their luggage has not been handled by somebody else at some point during travel.

Onboard Containers

Air cargo is subject to rugged handling, logistics movements, in-flight turbulence, and more. Choosing the right security seal for the right object is therefore critical to ensuring safe handling but easy access in-flight. With sanitation concerns ever-present, it is critical that the staff and passengers are assured that the food and drink that they will be consuming on their flight has not been accessed since its preparation. A simple pull-tight Skyseal can be applied to the trolley handle by approved staff once the trolley has been loaded onto the aircraft. This can then be safely removed by hand once its contents are ready to be issued out to the passengers. Plastic security seals are often used on food & beverage carts, duty-free trolleys, hatches, life jackets, fire extinguishers, tote boxes, medical boxes and cabinets.

Ground Operation Logistics

Luggage and aircraft contents will require transportation by airlines throughout the airport delivery chain. This is usually in the form of trucks and trailers which should be sealed with a plastic pull-tight seal to prevent intrusion until it reaches its final destination. Once loaded onto the truck, the seal can be thread through the handle of the door and pulled tight to secure the contents during transit. This will ensure that the authorised recipient is certain that the loaded luggage has not been tampered with at this point in the delivery chain.

Waste Disposal Operations

Waste should be sealed with printed identification ties to provide safe transport, recycling/reuse or disposal of all bulk-bagged waste in disposal chain. As a further precautionary method to combat COVID transmission, airlines should implement a track-and-trace system for all of their waste. Waste ties, printed with a unique sequential identifier which is digitally or manually recorded at easy stage of the disposal stage for full tracking purposes. These waste ties can be customised to suit your particular needs – with printing of company name, logo or text; unique sequential numbering and barcodes; as well as packaging to suit operational requirements on the ground.

Shop Airport Seals

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If you require a more bespoke option, you can use contact us by visiting the quote page here or alternatively you can call our sales team on +44 1252624305.

About JW Products

JW Products
manufacture security seals and clinical waste ties from our purpose built factory in St Helens, producing high-quality, fully customisable security seals, including bolt seals, container seals, and trailer seals, across a wide range of industries. Through investment in both innovative manufacturing and quality customer service, JW has been producing high-quality seals for over 20 years. The company conforms to the highest standards of ISO-9001:2015 and supplies both public and private sectors, including the NHS and Greater Manchester Police.