Modern Technologies of Aviation Security Systems

Modern technologies of aviation security systems are aimed at implementing innovations that solve security issues in the aviation industry. Therefore, they are marketed based on their improvement efficiency in both threat detection of weapons or related hazards and ease of the passengers’ flow through the security system. Prior to investing in the technology, an operator should critically assess the vital issue associated with it. In the midst of intensive variety, it is necessary to address the security issue with tailored solutions. Accordingly, the problem is providing the passengers with ultimate safety.

Since the formation of Transportation Security Administration (TSA), appropriate methods that identify security threats have been implemented by national and international airlines. However, the main dilemma has been maintaining the balance between the passengers’ safety and respecting their rights and privacy. In extreme cases, individuals of the Islamic religion have been subject to scrutiny by the ignorant security personnel. Therefore, the security solution should eliminate the violation of basic human rights and biases.

In 2013, the TSA announced the capability of research to advance the credential authentication technology (CAT). The CAT certifies documents presented by the passengers during the screening process. Accordingly, through the research forecast of advanced technology, TSA will upgrade security and intensify the effectiveness of the screening process. Therefore, the operator has to consider the following factors: the cost of advancing the technology, effects on the airline ticket price, adherence to the aviation regulatory bodies and adaptation to future changes in the security sector. Consequently, the following paper will discuss the issues that the operator should consider prior to investing in the technology.

Argument and Analysis

The aviation industry faces similar security issues all over the world. A plausible and effective strategy has to be outlined by the authorities in order to accelerate the processes of technological development and research in the field of aviation security. First, reduced competition amongst aviation companies and their focus on cooperation will result in a more prompt and efficient solution to the problem of airport security systems. The threat of terrorism, which is present in such highly developed countries as UK, forces certain companies and state officials to place high priority on subsidization of the industry. New airline organizations lack the capability to compete with powerful giants that have been offering airline services for a long time. Subsequently, the aviation market is very competitive. Therefore, the likelihood of new entrants during current economic decline is relatively low. Respectively, the cost of entry is expected to be extremely high. In addition, the industry operates powerful databases and is equipped with the latest advancements of technology, which positively contributes to the profits. Finally, the post-entry position of the new entrants does not allow them to win the market. Due to the fact that regional markets play a vital role in the airline industry, the new entrants usually fail to compete with already existing organizations who dominate such markets.

Currently, various American and Asian-based companies primarily use metal detectors that incorporate the X-ray mechanism for the primary search procedures and resort to a number of other techniques when additional examination is needed. Such techniques are usually roughly classified as three primary types of detection: trace detectors, bulk detectors and imaging systems. In addition, there are new detection systems such as the Teraherz and Quadrupole Reasonance. They are aimed at combating new security challenges through the new and modern functions. Nevertheless, they are not 100% reliable and could cause problems during practical use.

Wolff expresses the following opinion in regard to the baggage screening: “Baggage and passenger screening must have the same detection capability. There is no point screening one for explosives without having a similar capability for the other” . In his later article, Wolff cites the following data: “In 2009 American Recovery & Reinvestment Act targeted only $311 million at the checkpoint versus $689 million for checked baggage” .

There is a need to develop an average pricing policy to tackle market pricing that provides the competitive advantage in regard to similar businesses. The liability can be reduced with the help of establishing franchise. In such a case, the inspectors could be the independent contractors. By paying the state fees for registration, a company would have the possibility of establishing its management structure. In this case, security officer may serve as both a chief executive officer and president, taking control over the whole business. The existing expansion policy tends to be extremely effective for sustaining the balance within the industry and organization in particular. Low-cost fare options create all possible conditions for both gaining the competitive advantage and earning the customers’ loyalty. Therefore, this fact explains why the company is extremely successful in capitalizing on the customer awareness of the brand. The overall structure allows the company to have a strong financial foundation. In addition, it assists the company in overcoming all potential short-term downfalls. The industry operates in the extremely competitive market, which means that it is in the constant pursuit of gaining the largest market share. In order to maintain long-term relationships with the key American airports, the company needs to slightly revise its corporate strategy. The lack of established alliance leaves the company operating on its own devoid of any adequate support.

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In the following analysis, we examine challenges posed by the new threats and technological developments. Teraherz has the undiscovered potential, which is the ability to detect the threats right away in contrast to providing the machine operator with an image of a suspicious object. However, lower prices of technology can stimulate in the demand of these services. According to Ballesteros, the advancement process would occur in 27 months . Therefore, the transition from older detection systems to the new and more highly-developed ones is associated with a number of complications. Accordingly, the most logical possible ways of resolving this problem are presented in the article. They include combining technologies and uniting the efforts of different research centers and airport security services residing in different countries so as to form the most financially and technically acceptable systems of detection. Therefore, the costs of operations are under threat, especially when the rising labor costs are taken into account. There exists the danger of a potential terrorist threat, which can lead to the overall service reduction.

Consequently, the organization targets the provision of the appropriate balance among the prices of different transportation services in order not to lose the existing clientele. In addition, the general strategy of scheduling, frequency and facilities should be revised. Relatively, the security issues are positively correlated with the economic activities, which in turn affect the market negatively and decrease the annual profits.

The consumer demand has decreased significantly after the terrorist attacks of September, 2001 and the recent economic recession. Respectively, the entire industry had to reduce the ASM capacity, which resulted in lower load factors. Such cases allowed other transportation industries in America to prosper. Consequently, these events forced the company to decrease the flight prices. In contrast, the rapid spread of Internet booking alternatives allowed Southwest Airlines to save a number of customers.

The supplier power across the airline industry is tightly bound by jet-fuel, labor and air-frames. It tends to be rather problematic for Southwest Airlines to pay $71for oil, whereas jet-fuel prices do not perfectly correlate with oil prices. Therefore, there arises the constant alternative between crude oil and jet-fuel, when jet oil is only $20per barrel. After utilizing the dynamic hedging, Southwest gained the ability to control the episodic nature of some jet fuel prices. The target to establish significantly higher prices in the future to enhance aviation security in certain aspects is crucial for successful development of the industry. However, the solutions to the above problems should generate a gradual process, involving cooperation between the corporate and government agents. A whole system of interrelated measures and improvements has to be implemented, including aircraft maintenance, pilot and engineer training courses, meteorological facilities, and screening systems . Given the costly character of the improvements and scarce finances of most air companies, the transformation process will require much time and managerial effort.

Knowledge and Research

For the safety and security threats to be solved efficiently, any company needs to perform a proper evaluation of those threats at any stage of its activity. The most suitable method is the categorization of possible threats by an independent agent. Consequently, based on the results, the company analyses the priorities. Therefore, the focus shifts to the most vital issues to overcome negative tendencies. Relatively, technicians state that the increase in aviation security expenditures will inevitably cause a dramatic increase in passenger ticket costs. These changes will discourage passengers from flying, especially those who travel with families and are sensitive to price fluctuations. However, if we analyze the situation from a holistic approach, it becomes obvious that one potential or actual accident caused by the failure to provide passenger security will do a lot more harm to the publicity of the company than a slight rise in ticket prices.

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Also, the aviation companies cannot avoid the influence of regulatory reforms in the industry, because this factor influences their potential choice of screening machinery. Regulatory reforms are crucial for success in rapidly changing areas of human activity, for example, the aviation industry. According to Bartsch, aviation laws are aimed towards individuals that utilize the aviation industry. Distinctively, it is with the exemption of aviation industry that the scientific achievements have occurred expeditiously and at the global level. It explains why the modern aviation law experts encounter the issue brought up in one of the Lateral Economics volumes, which is technologically dependent regulatory reform . The problem is formulated as the need to ensure that the improvements are carried out by eliminating outdated regulations, restrictions on technological advancements and prejudiced investment targets .

The regulatory system is complicated and multilayered. First, the international aviation is governed by the International Civil Aviation organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The former, being a specialized agency of the United Nations, was founded in 1944 to ensure that the development of the aviation industry in the world was in sequence. As a result, it implemented the standards to regulate security, regularity, efficiency and environmental protection . Under the aegis of this organization, the Chicago Convention of 1944 and the Montreal Convention of 1999 were signed. The latter replaced the Warsaw Convention and the Hague Protocol. ICAO also acts as a depositary for the Tokyo Convention of 1969. All of these documents encompass a broad range of issues, which include virtually all aspects of the airline operation, taxation, carriage of passengers, cargo and baggage, air safety and security. The IATA, in its turn, attends to price setting issues and assigns its own three-letter airport codes and two-letter airline designators, in contrast to the four-letter ICAO airport codes and three-letter airline codes .

Concerning the international air industry authorities, the majority of countries have their own national aviation authorities. For example, there is Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US, Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in Australia, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the UK, Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA, NZ) and Transport Canada. The members of the European Union have their own common aviation regulating body – the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Although, a number of EU states have their separate national aviation authorities, such as Italian Civil Aviation Authority or Direction Generale de l’Aviation Civile in France. This multilevel system illustrates the contraction in the aviation industry, and the rapid technological progress only adds challenges to the situation. According to Krause, 40 airlines companies have discontinued their operations in the duration of 18 months7. In this struggle, he argues, the airline managers are obliged to be aware of the current and upcoming regulation reforms to stay afloat. Therefore, saving resources, for example, time and money, and also avoiding chaos and confusion, the regulation of aviation industry must be designated. In addition, regulatory reforms should leave some space for expected alterations in the safety and security systems, and for possible technical transformations of aircrafts and related objects. As to the influence of regulatory reform processes on governmental agencies, it is clear that regulatory authorities will get a much bigger workload when new regulatory frameworks to suit new technologies will be devised.

One of the possible solutions to avoid discrepancies between the older and the newer rules and regulations is gradual deregulation of aviation industry. Actually, this is exactly what has been happening since the times of the Chicago Convention. There has been an argument that the government seeks to be indirectly involved in the regulation of aviation safety standards. In fact, governments start to evade their responsibility for aviation security in the commercial airlines, which is a daunting tendency. In this context, we cannot but admit that an enterprise that exits the price competition is likely to suffer losses, no matter in what field of business it operates. Competition is one of the principal powers of the market. Thus, the governmental regulation is the hampering factor for airline companies, as it slows down the process of their development. Nevertheless, strict regulation eliminates incentives for improving services rendered by the companies. Consequently, the clients that use the services provided by the carriers do not enjoy the expected quality.

The most significant aviation security issues are present in Australia and America. Historically, these two governments exercised the most control over their air companies. The general situation in the airline market at that time could easily be characterized as “muppet competition” or “competition of pretence”. Almost all areas of possible competition, including price setting, were regulated, leaving the enterprises no room for improvement, problem-solving or development. However, deregulations occurred, and the US was the pioneer in this field, with its Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. Afterwards, other countries lifted the price-setting and market restrictions for the carriers. Although, there is still one important limitation kept by the US government. According to Shaw, it was mandatory for the U.S Government to own 75% of an airline’s voting shares in regard to domestic flights. Therefore, liberalization has not reached its target, but it had positive results in terms of airline development. However, Australia is an interesting example of breaking of the aforementioned rules of ownership. One of the major players in the Australian domestic market, Virgin Blue, was set up by a non-Australian – a British man Richard Branson.

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One more factor that does not directly affect aviation laws but is strongly connected with international trade laws and is, therefore, extremely important for the analysis is fuel costs. The global business community started paying more attention to this issue after the 1973 oil crisis, when the price of oil quadrupled by 1974 to nearly $12 per barrel (Frum, 2000). Consequently, it caused an enormous crisis for the oil-dependent aviation industry. Unlike automobile industry, it cannot quickly readjust its productive capacities and manufacture less oil-consuming machines. Currently, the fuel prices continue to play a decisive role in the aviation industry. The most significant “fuel cost drivers are: the age and fuel efficiency of a particular carrier’s fleet; the market price for jet fuel; regional market price pressures; network design; local factors at airports on a carrier’s network, and exchange rates” (Holloway (2003), p.287).

Theoretically, oil market prices cannot be stable and constant. The airlines are forced to accommodate themselves to the fluctuations in the prices (McKinnon, 99). However, it is possible to lessen the influence of government taxes and duties on fuel prices at each particular local airport. According to the provisions of the Chicago Convention, those may be applied only regarding fuel for domestic flights. For this reason, it is the responsibility of local legislatures to lift this burden from carriers.

There is a vivid example that illustrates negative influence of technological innovations on the performance of airlines. Passenger and baggage screening have mostly been conducted with metal detectors and X-ray, but due to the recent terrorism tendencies and hazards, there appeared a need for more sophisticated screening methods. Many airports all over the world have already implemented such technologies as WBI (Whole Body Imaging systems), bulk detection systems that use infrared rays, mechanisms that detect microparticles of explosives, and the newest scanning systems, such as Teraherz and Quadrupole Reasonance. In theory, promotion towards better and more improved technologies should be profitable, but in practice, sophisticated technologies increase costs and poorly interact with older mechanisms and machinery. Therefore, these new threats and new technological developments are likewise questionable. Teraherz is able to detect the threats by itself, not merely providing the operator with an image of a suspicious-looking object or area of the human body . However, high prices make it almost impossible to implement this technology even at the major airport checkpoints. The solution might lie in global unification of screening methods and machines in all airports throughout the world, but the very idea of possible expenditures on such innovation causes severe criticism. Also, such initiative is obviously discriminatory in relation to smaller non-networked companies, which cannot afford large-scale transformations in short periods of time. A plausible and effective strategy has to be outlined by the authorities in order to accelerate the process of technological development and research in the field of aviation security. However, the legal rules and regulations need to be redesigned to remain applicable even when the technological constituent of the industry will evolve. Such strategy is more likely to attract investors and ensure governmental support, which is much needed in the matter of enhancing security. Nevertheless, a separate and largely unrecognized part of expenditures is personnel training. More sophistication in the gadgets and technologies requires less concentration and attention from the pilots. Therefore, the pilot training systems also have to be as flexible and adaptive to the new technologies as possible.

Also, in terms of safety, CASA has highlighted that it is the compliance to traditional regulations that are to some degree responsible for safety inhibition of technological advancements. The ICAO’s purpose to attain aviation safety and compliance to the regulations is contradictory, but it contributes to the development of the aviation industry. CASA pursues similar goals through the ramified Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR), which encompasses the Administrative Matters, Certification/Airworthiness, Identification, Maintenance, Aircraft Maintenance Licensing, Flight Operations, Pilot Licensing, Airspace and Infrastructure, and Air Traffic Controller Licensing. Since the adoption of CASR in 1998, a number of alterations have been made in almost all chapters, but the process of change was orderly and relatively easy. The mission of the CASA, after all, encompasses “developing effective enforcement strategies to secure compliance with aviation safety standards”. As for the safety standards transition, CASA is encouraging to develop safety cases to support applications, where required, for exemptions from existing regulations.

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However, the regulations are not as strict for the airports as for other aviation industry actors. Therefore, the airport owners and operators are faced with the dilemma of the most viable strategy. The first available option is a traditional airport model that aims to meet the needs of the passengers, cargo shippers, commercial airlines and other parties that utilize an airport. Second, the strategic model is the commercial airport standard. The airports that implement this model are market-oriented with the main objective of profit maximization. Whichever strategy the airport chooses, its primary aim of providing services and facilities is unalterable. The airport should take into account the needs of several groups of customers, namely the passengers, the airlines, the airport employees, the airline crew, meters and greeters, visitors, local residents, and the local business community. Virtually, the airports obey the regulations adopted by national aviation authorities and those brought into force by the local ministries – in terms of items allowed or forbidden for transportation. According to Oster, an inherent view of airports as passive service providers to airlines is held, because they are mostly government-owned and exempt from the state fees. In order to overcome the problems of anti-competitiveness among the airports, the European Commission established a Code of Conduct with the adoption of Regulation 2299/89 (European Commission 2007a) . Strategically, it is much more profitable for air companies, whether large or small, to operate in the deregulated and flexible legislative environment. However, it means that the companies will have to eliminate a certain amount of authority either from the international or from national regulatory bodies.

Communication and Presentation

The main concerns for this industry today include counter-terrorism measures, meeting technological challenges and struggling with economic difficulties that haunt both large and companies in time of the crisis. In general, when there is an exigent need for revision of regulations, it does happen in most cases, but the companies that experience problems with staying afloat must prepare themselves for a relatively long period of time until the alterations come into force. Therefore, it is necessary to monitor all the alterations of regulatory frameworks, especially in an area prone to technological dependence, such as aviation. Moreover, the regulations are also renewed from time to time to meet the current needs. Therefore, the new regulatory framework can be set apart from the specific technologies, because when those technologies become outdated, and they will become so, given today’s pace of technological development, it will be difficult and expensive to redesign the law system.

Commercial aviation is one of the most vulnerable spheres in terms of exposure to possible terrorist threats. It is partly due to the imperfections of the passenger and baggage screening systems that are today used worldwide. These methods do not fully secure against dangerous items being carried on board and used improperly. Conclusively, the operator has to consider the regulatory bodies, the cost of implementation and indirect costs, the objective of the technological model, and the ability to redesign the model if need arises. In addition, the effects of the model on managing the airport should be considered. For example, the negative effect on ticket prices would lead to a decrease in revenue.

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