Keeping Your Aircraft Safe from Theft: Protection Tips
How do you keep aircraft safe from theft?
With the recent increase in aircraft thefts, it's a question that many pilots are asking themselves. Whether your aircraft is parked at a local airport or on a private airstrip, there are some simple steps you can take in protecting your aircraft from theft. Here are five tips for reducing airplane theft.
Keep Aircraft Locked At All Times
When your aircraft is not in use, it should be locked at all times to prevent thieves from accessing it. Purchase a universal aircraft locking device from any dealer or aviation store to secure the door locks. Aircraft parked at airports are included.
In addition, consider using ignition, wheel, prop, and throttle locks as a theft deterrent and added security. These aviation security measures aim to prevent unauthorized persons from boarding aircraft without authorization.
1. Ignition Locks: An ignition lock is a mechanism that covers the keyhole and prevents unauthorized use of the key.
2. Wheel Locks: A wheel lock is a device that is clamped onto a plane's wheel (or wheels) to prevent it from being stolen.
3. Prop Locks: The prop lock is the most prominent variety of locks you may use on your aircraft. A prop lock comes in padded chains, rubber-coated cables, and compressible styles.
4. Throttle Locks: A throttle lock is one of the most cost-effective and easiest anti-theft measures you can put in place. They're usually a tiny piece of metal that's been machined to fit your throttle. You lock it with the same type of lock you would use for your high school locker.
When it comes to locks for your aircraft, you have a lot of options to help prevent a stolen plane. While there is no silver bullet for aviation-related theft, taking additional precautions can aid in slowing down a thief long enough for them to be spotted.
Never Leave Your Keys In the Ignition
Leaving your aircraft's ignition on is the biggest issue aircraft owners face when it comes to theft. You should never leave keys in an airplane, especially if you leave them at a public airport or airstrip overnight.
If you happen to leave your keys in the ignition and invest in an ignition lock like the one described above, you'll be even more secure.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Whether you're at the aircraft hangar or on an airstrip, keeping aware of your surroundings will be helpful for aircraft security. We all get distracted from time to time, and we must keep safety in mind when doing so.
Even the smallest local airport has a lot going on. This makes it much easier for a would-be thief to go unnoticed.
To look out, pilots should note:
- Anyone attempting to gain entry to a plane or structure by force
- An individual who is attempting to fly an aircraft without the assistance of others but has no clue what they're doing
- Anyone just hanging out and doing nothing
- Anyone filming planes or property that isn't theirs i
When an aircraft is parked outside, be on the lookout for suspicious behavior and individuals. Make sure the aircraft is positioned in a well-lit location. If you're leaving your aircraft overnight or longer, keep it near other planes to make it more difficult for thieves to get into your aircraft without being detected.
Install An Aircraft Security System
An aircraft security system is another essential aircraft anti-theft device for plane owners. These systems are easy to install and work by emitting an alarm if someone enters your aircraft when it's not supposed to be in use. They do this through a sensor that detects motion inside the plane, such as turning on electrical equipment like cockpit lights or radios, entering doors and windows in the aircraft, or opening aircraft doors.
Your anti-theft device should be placed in an area where it can easily detect motion when the aircraft is parked at airports and on airstrips. When installed correctly, these systems are very effective for aircraft protection against theft.
Consider visible security cameras at your hangar, and record your aircraft with them at all times when possible. If thieves know there are security cameras installed, they will think twice before trying to steal aircraft.
If in doubt about someone at the airport, notify airport security personnel immediately.
Keep A Detailed Aircraft Inventory System
Your aircraft inventory system should include a detailed aircraft maintenance log that consists of the following:
- Aircraft type, model, year of manufacture, engine make/model/serial number (if applicable), aircraft identification number (generally found on the aircraft's tail section)
- Name of pilot-in-command or person last in aircraft before maintenance, date of previous inspection or aircraft flight, and any repairs made
- Detailed aircraft repair records to include the work done (i.e., items repaired), by whom, when completed, costs involved with each item/repairCopies of all parts installed on aircraft during major overhauls or inspections; documents can be placed in aircraft's logbooks.
- Take pictures of aircraft, cockpit controls/instruments, engines, and aircraft identification numbers. These will be extremely useful if your plane is stolen.
These are just a few simple tips that can help deter theft. The most important thing to remember is that prevention is the key to keeping your aircraft safe, so you should always be aware of your surroundings and never leave keys in the ignition.
We can help prevent aircraft theft and establish a safer environment for everyone involved in general aviation by working together as a pilot community.