Part 135 operators have the opportunity to receive human traffic awareness training
The Blue Lightning Initiative (BLI) was created by the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies to raise awareness about human trafficking. The initiative’s goal is to train airline personnel to identify potential traffickers and human trafficking victims and report their suspicions to federal law enforcement. The BLI has provided training to over 100,000 people in the aviation industry. Part 135 pilots and operators are next to be educated on how they can help eradicate this worldwide problem.
The National Air Transportation Association is working with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Transportation to educate the general aviation population about the pervasiveness of human trafficking, how to detect it, and the methods of elimination.
Aviation is just one of many methods used to traffic victims, and one of the most visible. NATA is committed to distributing materials, promoting awareness, and educating pilots and FBO personnel of this criminal activity through its Aviation Security Platform on NATA.aero. The BLI gives the aviation community the tools necessary to recognize trafficking indicators and tools to report suspected trafficking situations to the proper authorities.
During a NATA conference last year, Philip Langford, with the International Justice System, stressed that human trafficking is vaster and more brutal than at any other time in history. Some 40 million men, women, and children are trapped in slavery in what amounts to a 150 billion dollar industry. He told the conference attendees that even though this is a global problem, it is more stoppable than ever before through government and public scrutiny and vigilance.
Most people are surprised at how widespread this activity is, making it even more critical that the aviation industry is aware of the requirements and obligations to be on the alert for any suspicious activity. The BLI began with educating flight attendants but then grew to include ticket agents, gate agents, and all other personnel with regular interaction with passengers. Now the focus has turned to Part 135 operators and FBOs.
While training is required for Part 121 carriers and 135 operators, it is not mandatory for FBO workers. But NATA says it is still necessary to get the information out to everyone who has the potential to recognize a trafficking situation. It is a public policy campaign to help FBOs be more aware, make their facilities more resilient, and put another layer over the top of the air carriers so that none of this traffic goes through the private charter side of aviation.
The training is a relatively short program that explains human trafficking, how it occurs, signs that it is happening, and what to do should trafficking be suspected. More information is on the Homeland Security Blue Campaign website.
Everyone in aviation should be involved in this worthwhile attempt to end human trafficking. Whether you are a Part 135 operator, a 91 Corporate pilot, or someone who likes to hang out at the local airport on Sunday afternoons, keep your eyes open for anything suspicious and report what you see to the authorities. Together we can make a difference in the lives of these victims.