Aviation Security Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1413 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation

United States Aviation Security: Current Status and Proposed Areas for Improvement

Since the tragic events of "9/11," aviation security has come under intense scrutiny from the public as well as government agencies. Many efforts to improve security have been implemented over the last several years. Despite these efforts, many unresolved issues remain regarding passenger safety and privacy. Some of the notable items that will be discussed in this report include employee training, scanner accuracy, intrusiveness of scanners and human screeners, and the use of air marshals. Suggestions for improvements in aviation security will also be detailed.

Employee Training recent report by the United States Department for Homeland Security (McCarley et al.), which further demonstrates the magnitude of this problem. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for training airport security screeners. The TSA is currently examining employee training and states that modifications will soon follow.

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The TSA has undertaken several initiatives to measure the performance of passenger screeners in detecting threat objects. In July 2003, TSA completed a study of the performance of its passenger screening system, which identified many performance deficiencies, such as inadequate staffing and poor supervision of screeners. These deficiencies were caused by a lack of skills and knowledge, low motivation, ineffective work environment, and lack of incentives. In response to this study, TSA developed an action plan that identified key actions TSA plans to take to strengthen the performance of passenger screeners. These actions built on several initiatives that TSA already had underway, including enhancing training for screeners and supervisors, completing installation of a "Threat Image Projection" system, and conducting annual recertifications of screeners. While TSA is making progress in each of these areas, it has collected limited data on the performance of its baggage screening operations.

Scanner Accuracy

Term Paper on Aviation Security Assignment

The TSA has attempted to improve screening operations for checked baggage, but can not screen all checked baggage with explosive detection systems due to limited funding, lack of trained staff, and equipment repairs. In the absence of a 100% explosive detection screen, TSA must resort to alternate means, such as K-9 units and manual bag searches. The TSA is also increasing covert testing of passenger and baggage scanners where TSA undercover agents attempt to pass threat objects through screening checkpoints to identify systematic problems affecting the performance of the machines.

Undercover tests of aviation screening operations often reveal widespread problems, which may raise concerns that explosives and/or weapons may be transported into airport sterile areas and checked baggage systems. Covert tests of TSA screeners and equipment were conducted at hundreds of airports across the country from July to November 2003. Since the tests, TSA has significantly enhanced its training, technology and tactics to maximize the chances that explosives and prohibited items are detected before they may enter an aircraft.

Intrusiveness of Scanners and Human Screeners

Controversy exists around current guidelines by TSA that allows security checkpoint screeners to manually pat down women's breasts and the genital and buttocks regions of both sexes during searches. Passengers chosen for secondary screening or whose clothing appear suspicious are subject to frisking. The TSA claims that the new policy was implemented due to the lack of explosives detection equipment.

Further intrusions to passenger privacy include recent technology developments that will identify medium- and high-risk passengers through the use of sophisticated and classified algorithms. These databases will be updated to include criminal and terrorist watch lists, but will not collect private information on passengers (Barnett).

Air Marshals

Although many measures have been implemented to prevent dangerous humans and/or items from entering an airplane, the previous arguments illustrate that the system is not fool-proof. Therefore, the use of air marshals on aircraft has been implemented on several airlines. Following the "9/11" terrorist attacks, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Transportation modified the air marshal training program to expedite marshals into the field, thus increasing the number of protected aircraft. However, there are serious concerns with this modification because the program was shortened from 14 weeks to 5 weeks for candidates without prior law enforcement experience, and to 1 week for candidates with this experience. Modifications to the training program also included no familiarization with an airplane cockpit and marshals no longer had to pass an advanced marksmanship examination.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Aviation Security.  (2004, November 28).  Retrieved August 6, 2020, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/aviation-security/27345

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"Aviation Security."  Essaytown.com.  November 28, 2004.  Accessed August 6, 2020.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/aviation-security/27345.