Aviation Sector Snapshot

The Aviation Sector is comprised of infrastructure owned and operated by public, private, and military entities. Aviation infrastructure includes airports, heliports, balloonports, and seaplane landing ports, which are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

In addition to general aviation passengers, the Aviation Sector transports goods as part of domestic and international supply chains. A disruption to the Aviation Sector would impact other sectors of the economy reliant upon such supply chains.

In New Jersey, there are 423 licensed aviation facilities, excluding military.


Terrorism: Moderate
Recent attacks against the Aviation Sector occurred largely in unsecured areas where people congregate in large numbers. In June 2016, three individuals opened fire and detonated explosives at the international terminal entrance of Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, killing 44 and injuring over 230. In March 2016, dual suicide attacks at Brussels International Airport in Belgium occurred outside secure areas near ticketing counters. 

Globally, terrorist groups continue to target aircraft. In February, Daallo Airlines Flight 159 safely landed in Somalia after an explosive detonated onboard. In October 2015, the Sinai Peninsula affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria detonated an improvised explosive device onboard Russian Metrojet Flight 9268, killing 224.

Cyber: Moderate
In 2015, the Aviation Sector experienced cyber attacks targeting commercial airlines. Notable incidents include the penetration of the United Airlines customer reservation system and the flight control system of a Polish airline. Profit-motivated criminals, terrorists, and state and non-state cyber-criminals could leverage vulnerabilities in the aviation industry to disrupt operations and potentially cause physical harm to US citizens.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
There are major obstacles to arming and deploying UAVs for terrorist attacks. In January, a radical extremist Telegram account discussed using a UAV to cause a plane crash.

In 2015, over half of the 45 reports of improper UAV use documented in New Jersey occurred near airports or aircraft in flight, some of which forced pilots to take evasive action to avoid collision.


A Government Accountability Office (GAO) study in December 2015 found that many US airports lack a comprehensive aviation preparedness plan to prevent the spread of disease. The GAO recommended the US Department of Transportation work with public health stakeholders to develop a national aviation preparedness plan for communicable diseases.

United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) - Air Travel and Communicable Diseases

In May 2016, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) took steps to reduce wait times at airports nationwide caused partially by a 12-percent increase in air passengers since 2011, and a 12-percent decrease in screeners during the same period. Funds have been approved to hire 750 new screeners around the country with more than 200 of those in New York City area airports. Discussions are ongoing on how to best distribute the workforce of over 42,500 screeners. As TSA renews its attention on decreasing passenger wait times while ensuring safety and security, it has urged travelers to sign up for TSA Precheck.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Pre✓®


  • What types of cyber attacks are being used against airport networks and is information being exploited?

  • What threat actors are conducting cyber attacks? Are they profit-motivated or state-sponsored?

  • What is the insider threat to the Sector within the United States?

  • Which terrorist groups are planning to target the Aviation Sector in the United States?


US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs - Travel Security Notices

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Travel Health Notices

CDC Guidance for Commercial Aircraft Operators: Seasonal Influenza

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Preparedness Bureau at preparedness@njohsp.gov.