Threat Analysis: Richmond International Airport


Since the mission statement of the Richmond International Airport is to “provide access to high-quality, safe air travel services for the citizens of Central Virginia and through its air travel and related facilities, to serve as the catalyst for economic development of the region” (n.d., para. 1), it is crucial to conduct the threat analysis of the facility. The threat analysis will include natural, accidental, intentional treats to the facility as well as the factors that make the airport vulnerable to possible threats, identifying the impact categories ranging from catastrophic to negligible.

Airport Security Stakeholders

The Richmond International Airport operates on the standard principles of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The procedures targeted at maintaining the safe environment for all passengers include the security checkpoints where passengers are asked to remove their shoes as well as outer garments in order for them to be screened along with their carry-on luggage. Furthermore, passengers are checked for their identification – passport or the driving license (passengers aged eighteen and older). Apart from the TSA standards, the second important security stakeholder is the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the primary aim of which is to protect the borders of the nation from illegal migration, illegal substances smuggling, and, most importantly, terrorism. The legal responsibility of CBP is to facilitate regular flow of legitimate trade and travel (Schaar & Sherry, 2010, p. 7). Thus, the main security stakeholders of the airport are bound to ensure safe transportation of cargo and passengers without interrupting the routine that exists in the facility.

Assessments Description

All facilities, including airports, are faced with various levels of risks that are associated with different types of threats. Such threats can be caused by accidental or intentional actions, as well as natural events. Threat assessment is the first step in risk management. In order to predict the possible level of a threat, natural or man-made, specific assessments are to be performed. For example, assessments can be defined, credible, potential, and minimal. Defined threat relates to the potential aggressor that is known for planning an attack at the facility. When discussing airports, defined threat is specific, meaning that the security of the airport is warned about the possible attack. In the case of natural threats, the events are known to be prevalent and frequent in the area of the airport’s location. Credible threats are similar to defined in that the airport security knows about possible attacks; however, no warnings were received. Natural credible threats happen in the area in which the airport is located; however, they are less frequent and occur once every five or ten years (Renfroe & Smith, 2014, para. 5). Potential threats relate to possible attackers in the area that are not known for targeting airport facilities. Natural threats are ones that take place in the area on an irregular basis. Minimal threats are the ones that have no history of attacks at the airport facility. Natural and minimal threats are ones that also have no history of occurrence.

Vulnerability assessment relates to the impact of loss an attack may have in the facility; furthermore, it includes the vulnerability of a facility to the attack itself. The impact categories are divided into catastrophic, critical, limited, minor, and negligible, where catastrophic relates to damage beyond the habitable use (Renfroe & Smith, 2014, para. 8) and negligible means very low downtime in the facility without any significant damage. The likelihood of damage is assessed with the use of highly likely, likely, possible, unlikely, and remote options.

Threat Assessment

Natural threats like earthquakes, tornados, and other extreme weather events pose a threat to the security of the Richmond International Airport. Richmond’s earthquake index is 1.18, ranking the city thirty-second among a thousand and forty-six towns in Virginia (Richmond, VA Natural Disasters and Weather Extremes, 2016, para. 1). This means that the natural threat of an earthquake in Richmond is defined. Richmond is ranked 145 among all Virginian towns with the tornado index of 143.51, making the airport’s threat to tornados credible.

The possibility of accidental threats in the Richmond International Airport relates to passengers bringing restricted items to the facility, such as spray containers of large volume or metallic items like knives and scissors. Since passengers accidentally bring such items to airports on a regular basis, the threat is credible; however, it is important to note that the airport’s security quickly identifies and eliminates them.

The possibility of malicious attacks is high across the world in the light of the recent terrorist attacks across the globe especially the Brussels attacks. Despite the fact that there is no risk of an imminent terror attack in the Richmond International Airport, the security should always be aware of possible malicious actions. The threat assessment cannot be named either as defined, credible, or potential since there is no history of malicious attacks on the airport. Thus, the risk of the man-made intentional terror actions is identified as minimal.

Vulnerability Assessment

Accidental threats, as well as natural threats, were identified as the likely and highly likely occurrences respectively. The vulnerability of an airport to potential earthquakes or tornados is limited due to the solid and stable structure of the airport’s building, as seen on the map (The Richmond International Airport Map, n.d.). However, it is important to mention the Concourse A and Concourse B areas that seem semi-detached from the main area of the airport, thus having higher vulnerability factor.

Accidental threats posed by passengers are at likely risk of occurrence since passengers can often bring restricted items to the airport without recognizing their potential harm. However, the impact of such threats is minor since they are easily identified during Transportation Security Administration procedures and immediately eliminated in order to avoid any possible risks.

The impact of potential malicious acts can range from catastrophic to negligible depending on the nature of the act and how many individuals were involved. The likelihood of a malicious act in the Richmond International Airport is remote since there is no history of such attacks in the area. However, it is important to note the spread of terrorist attacks worldwide and be alert of any possible occurrence.


Thus, the threat and vulnerability assessment of the Richmond International Airport has shown that natural threats of earthquakes or tornados are defined and credible, according to the high indexes of such disasters. The impact of natural disasters on the airport is limited; however, it is hard to predict the severity of the disaster itself. The risk of passengers accidentally bringing restricted items to the airport is credible although the impact is usually minor since the items are easily eliminated by the TSA. The possibility of malicious attacks on the airport is minimal due to the absence of identifiable threats or history of similar occurrences; however, in the light of the global spreading of terrorism, the result of successful attacks can be devastating.


Renfroe, N., & Smith, J. (2014). Threat/vulnerability assessments and risk analysis. Web.

Richmond International Airport. (n.d.). Mission statement. Web.

Richmond, VA Natural Disasters and Weather Extremes. (2016). Web.

Schaar, D., & Sherry, L. (2010). Analysis of airport stakeholders. Web.

The Richmond International Airport Map [Image]. (n.d.). Web.

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