June 07, 2023

Security Management Systems for Airports: The Unique Approach of Biggin Hill Airport in the U.K.

Biggin Hill Airport is a general aviation airport south of London, England. It's perhaps best known for its critical role in the Battle of Britain, where the airport was a primary base for the defence of London. And today, as it turns out, the airport is a center for innovation with security management systems, using TrustFlight's Centrik software. In this Q&A, we interviewed Ben Spiers, the Head of Safety and Compliance of Biggin Hill Airport, and Lee Russell, Airport Lead at TrustFlight, about how Biggin Hill used Centrik to implement a state of the art security management system — no Excel used here.

Ben, what’s your experience in aviation? How long have you been at Biggin Hill Airport?

Ben: “After 12 years in the industry, I started my career at Gatwick Airport in Airport Security, followed by Airfield Operations before moving to Centrik as the Aerodrome Implementation lead. There, I actually introduced Centrik to a number of Aerodromes, Air Navigation Service Providers as well as Civil Aviation Regulators, working on AOCs and with MROs. I have been at BQH for two and a half years now.

What aircraft are in and out of Biggin Hill these days?

Ben: “Mostly corporate jets — generally business aviation. It’s comparable to Teterboro or Van Nuys in the U.S.”

What about you Lee? How long have you been at TrustFlight?

Lee: “I started as an operations officer at the London City Airport, and stayed for 20 years. When I left, I was the Director of Aerodrome Compliance. I joined Centrik in 2021 as an aerospace specialist with a specialization in operational management in airports. Now, I’m a part of Andy Wilkinson’s team, demoing the Centrik system to potential airport and airline clients..”

Lee, what exactly is SeMS and how does it relate to SMS? What kind of incidents could generally be reported in an SeMS?

Lee: “SMS and SeMS are very similar. Just as SMS is used for safety, there was a desire to use the software for a Security Management System. Any type of suspicious behaviour is reported. It could be someone taking photos around the airport, or taking photos of how people access the airport.”

What’s unique about Biggin Hill? Are they the first airport to deploy Centrik for SeMS?

Ben: “We are. SeMS is relatively new, especially in the U.K. When I was at London City Airport in 2019, we were just starting our journey with SeMS. There’s always been security at airports, obviously. This is about formalizing all the processes to properly manage security processes.”

Is Centrik SMS widely used at airports?

Lee: “We work with a number of U.K. airports and in Europe. Many airports are stuck with antiquated Excel spreadsheets and want to transition away.”

Whose idea was it to bring in Centrik for SeMS at Biggin Hill?

Lee: “Well, it was actually Ben leading the charge!”

Ben: “That’s true. SeMS was an initiative that was brought into the airport to support the current airport approvals. But since the C.A.A. SeMS principles were built upon the foundation of existing SMS regulations in place by the CAA, bringing SeMS into the existing functionality was straightforward.”

How long was implementation of SeMS for Biggin Hill?

Lee: “From start to finish, the whole process took around 12 months. The initial principles in SeMS was phase one. Then, there was an assessment by the regulator to then demonstrate to the C.A.A. as part of SeMS phase two. The easy part was building the framework into our existing Centrik system. And with the assistance and guidance from the support team, the process was simple. We had the vision, Centrik had the solution.”

Have other airports asked you about Biggin Hill's innovation here?

Ben: “Indeed. Airports frequently meet in a number of collaborative meetings to discuss best practice and process, and for those who use Centrik, we frequently discuss how to manage different functions as well as the best way to get the job done.”

Ben, you’re an evangelist for Centrik? Why?

Ben: “Centrik is the complete package. Not only is it fast and efficient, the system has streamlined and supported the business in a number of essential operational, safety and compliance processes, allowing us to exceed compliance with national regulators and our aircraft operators. The system has a wide range of extensive functionality, allowing us to remain compliant yet keep the number of systems across the organization to a minimum.”

Prior to Centrik, how did BQH manage SeMS?

Ben: “The SeMS approval was a new concept to the airport, and although we had processes and procedures for security management, implementing the SeMS program gave clear structure and direction for the whole security department.”

Excel is readily available, simple enough to use with many people familiar with it. Why not just use Excel spreadsheets to document SeMS reporting?

Ben: “Since the airport has used Centrik for the last five years, it made perfect sense to embed SeMS into the Centrik system. Using Excel was not even considered as part of the process as an intuitive and interactive system was needed which Centrik provides.”

Find out more about Centrik, TrustFlight’s SMS solution or get in touch with one of our experts.

You may also like

Let's get started

Talk to our sales team to find out how you can transform your operation with our products and services.

Join the TrustFlight newsletter

Stay informed of aviation technology developments that could impact your operations.

Work email address
Receive our quarterly newsletter.
Receive product updates, customer case studies and webinar invites.