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Airport Security: Ten Years Later Is Air Travel Safer? (Term Paper Sample)

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Ten Years Later; Is Air Travel Safer?

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Airport Security: Ten Years Later; Is Air Travel Safer?
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Airport Security: Ten Years Later; Is Air Travel Safer?
Abstract
Even though a decade later the US has spent Billions of dollars on the implementation of airport security, the 2011 published 9/11 commission report suggested that our airports are far from being secure. An excerpt from the report stated that, “…we are still vulnerable to aviation security threats” (TSA, 2011a). The damning report on airport security since the 9/11 incidence outlines several specific recommendations such as the improvement of security screening procedures at all airport checkpoints, adopting advanced biometric systems and standardization of identification requirements. Enhancement of Airport Security is critical in sealing potential loopholes in the current security procedures necessary to foil future security threats. This research therefore endeavors to explore the state of airport security ten years after the 9/11 attack.
Introduction
The Aviation Transportation Security Act (TSA) was established with the mandate of securing the US civil aviation industry (Barrack, 2010). Its mandate includes ensuring safety of both passenger and cargo aircrafts through passenger and property screening (TSA, 2011b). Thus in all 463 TSA regulated airports in the US, screening is mandatory pursuant to TSA set procedures. All passengers are required to pass through security checkpoints for identification and document authentication. However, all airports have been tasked with the implementation of all TSA security recommendations such as access controls and perimeter security under TSA guidelines (NYT, 2010). Several security related incidences have occurred across the US since September 11, 2001.
Patently, US air travel is far from being safe, there was an attempted terrorist attack on flight 253 on the Christmas Eve of 2009 ( PC Magazine, 2010). This incidence occurring eight years later confirmed that airport security was in dire need of further review and improvement. As a result of this incidence, most key US airport installations have adopted a multi-layered approach to airport security that has since been successfully tested at Boston’s Logan Airport (Pistole, 2011). Although security systems used by various airports may vary in design and layout, nonetheless, security controls must surpass the minimum security threshold set by TSA. For instance among other requirements, all airports are supposed to implement passenger stringent access control security procedures at all entry points. Diverse technologies are employed to meet this requisite such as, keypad security codes, Personal identification numbers, magnetic stripe cards and readers, turnstiles, locks and keys and deployment of security personnel around the airport (TSA, 2011b).
A review of Airport Security a decade after 9/11
Review of Relevant Literature
The U.S government has sunk billion of dollars in endeavor to bolster high degree of security in our airports. However, the airports according to ABC-CLIO are still susceptible to terror attacks because they are highly busy, tackling multiple transactions in unison mired with innumerable security breaches. (2010). Research carried out by PC magazine revealed that since November 2001 there has been at least 25,000 security breaches at U.S. airports (2010). This is a pointer that on average each commercial airport has had over four hundred security breaches. These stunning facts further expose that over fourteen thousand people have found their ways into forbidden areas of the airports and over six thousand people went past the airport screeners without accurate scrutiny (PC Magazine, 2010) These facts allude to the paranoid approach with which most American view the commercial airports.
In attempt to convince the U.S citizenry on the improved security, Transportation Security Administration revealed that the commonly found security slips had been investigated and remedied. The US congress was nonetheless reluctant to let them off the hook easily. The Congress pointed out that some security policies were redundant and ineffective in combating any terror threats (HSW, 2011). Though the TSA seemed to have it all in control, their ability to counter the persisted threat of terrorists’ attacks has been found wanting.
Since the terrorists hit in the year 2001, the screening process at the airports has been revamped and a lot of money has been invested into the project. Across the country new screening technology has been implemented but there are still notable lapses in security enhancements in all commercial airlines. In a most recent notable case a stun gun was discovered in a plane operated by JetBlue Airways Cooperation (TSA, 2011a). Apparently, the gun was not intended for any terrorists’ activities but the FBI Officials have been investigating why and how the gun was allowed in to the plane. Another peculiar case of security breach involved a Nigerian living in America who managed to bypass three airport security layers with an expired pass. (TSA, 2011a) These cases indicate the myriad inefficiencies noted in American airports.
There is also another less discussed security threat in airports which could be caused by the work force inside the airports the so called insider threat (Aym,2010) A person working in the airport environment could have access to high security areas and create a leeway for the terrorists to access such areas causing massive harm. For instance in Indonesia, a florist working in a hotel disclosed vital information to a terror group leading to the bombing of the hotel (ABC-CLIO, 2010). Apparently, terrorists have been able to gain access to critical areas in airports through the insiders. Thus privacy and security matters have been violated often exposing the uninformed citizens to the ever looming danger of terrorist attack.
Passenger security screening has been taunted as the greatest security control countermeasure at the airport (TSA, 2010). However, the magnitude of the effort and resources required in the implementation of its procedures begs more questions as to its degree of success in thwarting security threats (TSA, 2011b). The effectiveness of screening methodologies has also been under scrutiny by the TSA. Hence, in a bid to enhance airport security and safety of air passengers, TSA is testing a new security system that has been optimized to spot passengers that would possibly pose a security threat before getting on board (TSA, 2011a).
Screening Passengers by Observation Technique (SPOT) is a system which functions by utilizing non-intrusive behavior observation technique which identifies high risk passengers long before they board aircraft (NYT, 2010). This system according to TSA has the potential of significantly averting security risks aboard passenger aircrafts and subsequently making air travel safer. Despite multiple benefits accrued to this system, GAO warns that this system must be fully tested and authenticated before its deployment in airports across the US (Barrack, 2011).
Conclusions and Recommendations
Since the 9/11 terrorist attack, airport security and safety measures have been heightened within the US. The newly unveiled layered approach to airport security aims at strategically reinforcing air travel security and safety for passengers (TSA, 2010). This approach utilizes real-time distributed information sharing, inter-agency cooperation, cutting edge technology and hierarchical human interaction that identifies and averts possible security threats to the safety of air travelers (TSA, 2011a). Transport and Security Administration (TSA) was formed after 9/11 to act as a government oversight body for security implementation in the public transport sector. Thus following TSA recommendations, US airports have moved to implement recommendations of the US Homeland Security Taskforce which include the implementation of inline baggage screening systems, blockading of airports with a 10-foot high perimeter wall, installation of a behavior detection systems and a mandatory federal requirement for all airports to install biometric access control systems to secure access to restricted areas (TSA, 2011b).
The last 10 years since the 9/11 terrorist attack have seen introduction of numerous air transport security initiatives. Notwithstanding the new airport security measures aimed at mitigating future terrorist attacks, it’s evident that air safety requires more than formulation of countermeasures to identified security threats and vulnerabilities (ABC-CLIO, 2010). A critical component of effective airport security that has been ignored is effective and visionary leadership. To make US airports more secure, leadership commitment is critical. He...
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