The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) extended its unmanned aircraft system (UAS), security initiatives to the Croatian capital of Zagreb. A three-day training course was conducted for 28 aviation representatives from seven Eastern European countries. Notably, this marked the inaugural UAS training held outside the United States led by the TSA’s Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service (LE/FAMS) since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After several decades of conflict and economic turbulence, airports and air carriers in the region are growing in terms of flights and passenger loads,” said Steve Petrick, TSA representative, who is based at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. “Unauthorized (drones) flying near airports can pose serious safety and security risks and cause disruptions and delays impacting airport operations.”

Petrick and Supervisory FAM Michael Caskey emphasized that the TSA’s objective, through initiatives like the UAS training and other efforts, is to broaden global partnerships, enhance international terrorism prevention, and elevate the overall aviation security standard worldwide.

Caskey pointed out that the increasing global threat of UAS poses risks to commercial aviation and operations, with airports witnessing a rise in UAS encounters. The malicious use of drones has the potential to present criminal and terrorist threats to the global aviation system. LE/FAMS is dedicated to supporting requests from TSA’s foreign partners by sharing best practices and providing information to strengthen collaborations with international transportation stakeholders and governments.

The training course focused on showcasing available planning, training, and equipment. It encouraged participants to formulate UAS response plans, conduct exercises, and establish teams to address the growing challenges posed by the use of unmanned aircraft systems.

To assist and inform TSA’s stakeholders in the Balkans, Caskey highlighted that the training, developed by LE/FAMS and TSA’s International Operations, aimed to emphasize the significance of risk assessment, emergency procedures, and incident reporting related to UAS encounters. The training covered information on counter-drone technologies, detection methods, and response strategies to mitigate risks associated with small UAS equipped with advanced aviation capabilities that are readily available in the commercial market.

Petrick anticipates that this training in Croatia is the inaugural session in a series of regional initiatives led by TSA and DHS on aviation security in the Western Balkans, termed Balkan Spirit 2. (Reference)

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