Aviation Security

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This paper aims to address the impact of aviation security systems at airports which are implemented through controlled security programmes. It is without a doubt that our society has patterned to continually evolve into a technologically-based information age. With the ease of acquiring information even for the ‘average joe’ today, governing authorities must respond by continually placing newer and improved security systems, particularly in the aviation industry. Jones (2002) describes technology as a pillar of counter-terrorism, and suggests that significant attacks expand the array of technology initiatives required. Advances in technology include airport baggage screening, postal monitoring, biometric identification, radio and television broadcasting, and personal security.The scope of this discussion will focus on the influence of electronic screening, biometrics and e-chip passport features, particularly how they have developed and caused an impact to aviation security. The refining of these systems significantly shapes the way we approach aviation security through a legislative and operational view-point. A flawless security system is what we continually strive for, and the main thrust for investing in costly security methods and researching new initiatives. As the ‘security pendulum’ swings toward the desired outcome of attaining the ideal security system with prime safety levels; changes will be identified together with arising hindrances. The first part will focus on electronic screening, and the latter –biometrics and e-passports. Electronic Screening

While the means of screening passengers and items are primarily a preventive security measure for minimising the threat of terrorism and upholding an acceptable level of safety; it serves to fulfill the published ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standard and recommended practices of the current Annex 17 (8th edition), according to the Chicago Convention. Standard 4.1 of Annex 17 states:

Each Contracting State shall establish measures to prevent weapons, explosives or any other dangerous devices, articles or substances, which may be used to commit an act of unlawful interference, the carriage or bearing of which is not authorized, from being introduced, by any means whatsoever, on board an aircraft engaged in civil aviation. (ICAO, 2006)

For the last few years the ICAO has enforced a strategic objective to screen 100 percent of checked baggage –applicable to contracting states from January 2006. These objectives are expressed in Standard 4.4.8 and Recommendation 4.4.9 of the publication. In depth scrutiny of security methods and airport safety initiatives are set in place to prevent acts of preceded criminal activity and to deter unlawful interference. For example since the September 11 attacks -programmes for federal air marshals were introduced for domestic operations, also with air crew being armed for safety (Haas, 2004). Although there may be no such thing as a 100% fail-proof security system, such measures including screening of passengers aid to moderate errors that are inevitable in the airport environment. Frederickson & LaPorte (2002) describes two types of errors related to screening which deters effectiveness when loading passengers and cargo. ‘Type 1’ errors occur when a hypothetical person or item should be boarded (i.e. posing no threat in reality), but is kept from boarding an aircraft. Although this error may often be overlooked as an error, with a 'better be safe than sorry' mentality, its consequences can be significant in time, money and opportunity costs. An accumulation of type 1 errors (also known as false positives) leads to ineffective air travel. ‘Type 2’ errors conversely occurs when a hypothetical person or item that should not board an aircraft (i.e. potentially harmful or threatening people or items), and a decision is made...
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