Levels of Threat (In-flight AVSEC)

[Ref SkyBrary – Unruly Passenger, AVIA4020 Handout Lesson 4]

Levels of Threat

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has defined a four tier threat level hierarchy. Although all National Aviation Authorities (NAA) do not follow these specific definitions, they provide valuable guidance to operators in determining the seriousness of an unruly passenger incident and in developing their policies on appropriate level of response. The ICAO level of threat specifics are as follows:

  1. Level 1 — Disruptive behavior (verbal);
  2. Level 2 — Physically abusive behavior;
  3. Level 3 — Life-threatening behavior (or display of a weapon);
  4. Level 4 — Attempted or actual breach of the flight crew compartment (refer to cockpit)

Level 1

  • Behavior that interferes with the comfort of fellow passengers, or interferes with the duties of crew.
  • examples: Insulting language, drunk, refusal to comply with crew instructions, use of mobile phones, smoking 

Level 2

  • Involves violence against staff, other passengers and damage
  • examples: damage to company/passenger property, sexual molestation

Level 3

  • Behavior on board involving serious violence which might result in severe or fatal injuries
  • examples: hijack aircraft

Level 4

  • any attempt to breach airline security by accessing the flight deck


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