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Abstract

Given its role in regulating civil and military aviation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is one of the most visible federal agencies to the general public. To fulfill its domestic and international aviation roles, the FAA must strike a balance between security and commercial interests and its own budget constraints. It is also an economic and intelligence target. While aviation security policy has evolved since 2001, policies designed to promote commerce and to facilitate overseas operations and maintenance by U.S. carriers and aerospace manufacturers have resulted in two entities that are especially vulnerable to insider activities: foreign repair stations and aircraft trusts. In particular, foreign repair stations and aircraft trusts pose tempting targets for criminal and terrorist activities (and activities of foreign government agents) because they present unique opportunities for exploitation and disruption by ill-intentioned insiders (e.g., terrorists, criminals, moles, foreign government agents, coerced accomplices, unwitting dupes, disgruntled employees/contractors). These entities are also vulnerable to actions of altruistic insiders (e.g., employees and contractors), however well-meaning. A tapestry of executive orders, presidential directives, regulations, and statutes creates the fabric of the FAA’s guidance and response to the insider threat posed by state and non-state actors. While the vulnerabilities of repair stations and trust arrangements differ widely, the common element is the role of individuals who have access by virtue of their jobs. While insiders may act for altruistic or nefarious reasons, regardless of whether they are state or non-state actors, there are effective measures which can be taken to counter the insider threat and improve security.

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