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Efficient Aviation Security

Efficient Aviation Security: Strengthening the Analytic Foundation for Making Air Transportation Security Decisions

Brian A. Jackson
Tom LaTourrette
Edward W. Chan
Russell Lundberg
Andrew R. Morral
David R. Frelinger
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 182
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  • Book Info
    Efficient Aviation Security
    Book Description:

    Making aviation security more cost-effective is hampered by considerable uncertainty about the terrorist threat, security system performance, and the costs of security measures. This volume focuses on exploring ways to inform decisionmaking despite such uncertainties, providing a set of analyses that help fill some of the current gaps in the assessment of the costs, benefits, and efficiency of aviation security measures and strategies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-7970-1
    Subjects: Transportation Studies, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-vi)
    Andrew Morral
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xv-xxii)

    Commercial aviation plays a central role in our daily lives and is an essential part of the national economy. The importance of aviation to both the public and the private sectors drives concerns about how security threats, such as terrorism, could affect the utility, safety, and economic value of those sectors. It is also undeniable that the aviation system has long been an attractive target for terrorists across the political and ideological spectrum. From hijackings in the 1970s to al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula’s disrupted bombing operation in May 2012, terrorists continue to try to exploit the aviation system because...

  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction: The Goal of Efficient Security
    (pp. 1-10)
    Tom LaTourrette and Brian A. Jackson

    Aviation plays a central role in our daily lives and is an essential part of the national economy. In 2010, over 8.7 million commercial flights transported more than 629 million passengers more than 554 billion revenue-passenger miles domestically (RITA, 2011b).¹ An additional 1.3 million international flights transported approximately 158 million passengers to and from the United States (RITA, 2011a). There are also several times as many personal and corporate flights each year as there are commercial ones.² In addition, in 2010, U.S. carriers shipped 23 million revenue-tons of air cargo domestically and internationally (RITA, 2011a). Aviation makes a substantial contribution...

  10. CHAPTER TWO The Problem to Be Solved: Aviation Terrorism Risk Past, Present, and Future
    (pp. 11-42)
    Brian A. Jackson and David R. Frelinger

    The goal of aviation security is to address threats posed to targets in the air transportation system. The basis of a rational and effective security strategy must therefore be a picture of the security threats that need to be addressed, paired with information on their seriousness to help set priorities and to assess the value of different security strategies. In homeland security policymaking, the use of risk analysis has become a central element of decisionmaking and the preferred approach for informing priority setting and evaluation efforts. In principle, risk provides a common basis for comparison among the outcomes of a...

  11. CHAPTER THREE The Costs of Security Can Depend on What Is Being Protected—and Security Can Affect Its Value
    (pp. 43-66)
    Brian A. Jackson

    In considering a security measure’s value, the starting point for analysis must be what that security measure costs. Without a handle on the amount of money spent, any measure of benefit will be a number in isolation: The same risk reduction might seem like a poor investment if it had a high associated cost, but a good investment if its costs were lower.

    It is more complicated than it might seem to put a price tag on a security measure—or on a set of measures, such as those that make up the aviation security system overall. These costs, which...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR The Benefits of Security Depend on How Different Security Measures Work Together
    (pp. 67-80)
    Tom LaTourrette

    A common aspect of the design of security systems is the use of multiple layers of security. The rationale for using multiple layers is that no security element provides perfect protection, and using multiple layers of different types of security elements provides protection against the inevitable shortcomings with any individual element. Shortcomings could include being bypassed through known or unforeseen gaps inherent in the design, being temporarily inoperable, or being overwhelmed or incapacitated. TSA promotes the fact that it uses a layered approach to aviation security (TSA, n.d.-b).

    The rationale for security layering is similar to that for incorporating redundant...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE The Benefits of Security Depend on How It Shapes Adversary Choices: The Example of the Federal Air Marshal Service
    (pp. 81-94)
    Russell Lundberg and Tom LaTourrette

    To understand the full benefits of a security measure, we need to capture how it changes adversary thinking. Terrorists are adaptive adversaries, so the addition of a security measure may change what or how a terrorist attacks. The United States can meet its goal of decreasing the damage we can expect from attacks by decreasing the likelihood an attack will be undertaken, decreasing the likelihood an attack will succeed if it is undertaken, and decreasing the damage that occurs if the attack succeeds. A central effect of security is deterrence, which increases security by making terrorists less likely to attack...

  14. CHAPTER SIX The Benefits of Security Depend on Tradeoffs Between Intended and Unintended Consequences: The Example of a Trusted Traveler Program
    (pp. 95-112)
    Edward W. Chan, Brian A. Jackson and Tom LaTourrette

    Over the years, more and more measures have been put in place in an effort to increase aviation security. One of the most visible aspects of aviation security is the physical screening of passengers at the airport. Attempted attacks, and the uncovering of other threats, have resulted in an ever-increasing amount of resources devoted to screening passengers, along with an increase in the burden on passengers in terms of time, convenience, and invasiveness of screening. Whether these security measures are effective and an efficient use of resources is often debated.

    A criticism that is often leveled is that such security...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Can the Benefits of Security Be Estimated Validly?
    (pp. 113-130)
    Andrew Morral

    Previous chapters in this book highlight how aviation security analysis should conceptualize risk, using information about threats, vulnerabilities, consequences, and the costs and benefits attributable to security systems. These discussions raise a question that has challenged DHS since its inception: How do we estimate these components of risk given the profound uncertainties inherent in each? Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, GAO, and legislation require DHS to produce risk and risk-reduction estimates, but they also criticize DHS methods for generating risk estimates that fail to account for known or suspected complexities in terrorism risk (e.g., Masse, O’Neil, and Rollins,...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT Conclusion: Efficient Security in a Time of Fiscal Pressure
    (pp. 131-138)
    Brian A. Jackson and Tom LaTourrette

    The aviation system has been a target of terrorist attention and attack from the beginning of the era of modern terrorism. In the 1960s and 1970s, attacks on aircraft put terrorism on the international policy agenda and were central in attempts by small violent groups to gain leverage over individual governments or the international system more generally. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks redefined the threat of terrorism for many individuals and catalyzed rapid and sharp changes in aviation security policies across the world. Threats to the aviation system have continued in the decade since, with Richard Reid’s attempted “shoe...

  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 139-156)