Osprey Flight Solutions: 2023 Round-Up

Alexandra James

Analysis Output Manager

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Alexandra James

Analysis Output Manager

Alexandra is Osprey’s Analysis Output Manager. She helps to ensure the editorial quality of the work produced by the team and contributes to its analytical output, with a focus on human trafficking, people smuggling and unruly passengers.

She joined from Green Light where she was the sub-editor and regular contributor of the trade journal, Aviation Security International. In addition to her editorial duties, she also participated in delivering training in topics such as unruly passenger management (de-escalation and restraint techniques) and advanced interview techniques.


Osprey:Explore map showing alert locations between August 2023 and February 2024

During 2023, Osprey Flight Solutions issued a total of 1,868 notifications covering aviation-centric incidents and events in over 200 countries. These are divided into four main categories in the Osprey system: Aviation Safety, Aviation Security, Conflict Zone Dynamics and Conventional Military Activity.  

Of the total notifications issued, 537 were critical alerts, largely relating to conflict zone activity in the Middle East, Ukraine & Russia, Armenia/Azerbaijan and Ethiopia, as well as North Korean missile launches and militant activity in Pakistan, Somalia, Myanmar, Libya and Nigeria. Osprey also issued critical alerts regarding non-conflict zone-related activity, including the detection of a suspected improvised explosive device inside the perimeter fence at Cucuta Airport (SKCC/CUC), Colombia, in August. The table below shows the list of countries based on how many Osprey notifications they are associated with; multiple countries may be associated with a single notification.

North Korea5861735
Saudi Arabia5632132
Table showing top 20 countries for notifications

Of the 537 critical alerts, the largest proportion (239) highlighted conflict zone activity linked to Israel. These largely concerned rocket, ballistic missile and weaponised drone attacks launched by Gaza-based Palestinian armed groups and Yemeni Houthis, as well as Israel Defence Forces (IDF) strikes on Iranian-backed militant groups (IBMGs) in Syria, and armed clashes between the IDF and Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border. Activity involving Israel significantly escalated towards the end of the year (see ping chart, below), and the total notifications for the country in the year therefore represents a significant increase compared with 2022, when a total of 95 alerts were issued, of which 58 were "critical".

After Israel, Syria and Lebanon - the first three countries in the list above – Russia and Ukraine appeared in fourth and sixth place, respectively. Osprey’s critical alerts covering the Russia-Ukraine conflict largely highlighted weaponised military-grade drone and missile attacks by both countries and associated air-defence system employments, as well as "spillover" impacts on Poland, Romania and Moldova. Non-critical ("standard") alerts highlighted associated regulatory updates as well as cybercrime by groups targeting the websites of state and private entities in countries that have expressed support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

35 of Osprey's critical alerts in 2023 related to missile test launches conducted by North Korea into the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea – as well as a satellite launch in August - without the issuance of NOTAMs in advance.  


In July, Osprey began issuing forecast notifications on activity that has a realistic possibility, is likely or has a near certain likelihood of occurring in the future. Of the total 1,868 notifications sent last year, 220 were forecasts. Of these, 113 related to social unrest/industrial action, including environmental activism, 48 related to aviation safety events such as volcanic eruptions, storms and other natural disasters, and 29 highlighted the potential for increased security at facilities amid heightened political activity in the countries, such as national elections. Our forecast accuracy through 2023 and into 2024 is 97%.


pings conflict zone activity 2023
Osprey:Explore map showing global "ping" concentrations

Last year, 224,909 incidents in over 230 countries and territories were entered as "pings" into the Osprey system. Pings are recorded as sets of data points, including date, location, category, actor and weapon, allowing Osprey analysts and users to dynamically monitor levels of activity and their potential impacts on global aviation operations. The total pings recorded in 2023 represents a 30% increase on 2022, driven largely by an increase in conflict zone activity in Israel and Lebanon between October and December (see chart, below). However, the highest proportion - roughly 40% - of pings entered into the system in 2023 related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with around 85% of these concerning projectile events and airstrikes.

country activity airlines risk management
Osprey:Explore chart showing the ping frequencies for the top 10 countries

Separately, the United States continued to account for the highest proportion of aviation security pings – largely driven by firearm seizures at airport security checkpoints, security breaches and unruly passengers – followed by India, where fraudulent document use and bomb hoaxes contributed to ping totals. However, Brazil accounted for the highest number of crime pings, predominantly narcotics smuggling, again followed by India, where high levels of gold smuggling contributed.