With the current upsurge in terrorism and terrorist threats, aviation security has become one of the most significantly considered a security issue. After the famous 9/11 attack on the United States soil, security concerns in airports underwent a mega transformation. Security agencies and governments all over the world perform regular updates to their security screening techniques to keep ahead of terrorists. The core objective is to prevent subsequent attacks that terror groups may plan to launch using passenger jets. In addition, the security personnel have the determination to curtail travelling of terrorists from one part of the world to another with the aim of creating havoc. Immediately after the 0/11 attacks of 2001, the responsibility of screening passengers in airports and ensuring the security of passengers became a duty of the federal government.
The formation of United States Transportation Security Administration marked a visible commitment of the government to ascertain aviation security at all cost. The unit is an agency of United States Department of Homeland Security and has the duty to exercise authority over security of travelling public in the country. TSA came into being as a result of Aviation and Transportation Security Act that Don Young supported in the US House of Representatives. The unit was under the US Department of Transport but was moved to the Department of Homeland Security due to the rising concerns over security of public travelers more so in the face of escalating terror attacks.
Upon its inception, TSA took over operations of private companies that took charge of given airports under contract. It developed policies to protect United States transportation. The core focus of the agency is on airport security. Staff are trained on how to avert cases of aircraft hijacking that occasioned the 9/11 attack. It ensures strict rules of all the 450 airports in the United States in collaboration with other local, regional, and states partners. TSA is solely responsible for screening passengers, carry-on and checked baggage in the airports.
Although the United States Transportation Security Administration has the sole responsibility of screening passengers and their baggage, private firms still come in handy to ensure even tighter security of airports. Airports may opt to hire private security firms to handle the screening. Private firms must, however, get approval from TSA and follow the procedures laid down by the agency. Under Screening Partnership Programs, private companies hired by airports conduct passenger and luggage screening under strict guidelines provided by the United States Transportation Security Administration.
In order to ensure a water-tight security checks by the United States Transportation Security Administration, the agency comprises highly trained personnel. It has approximately 47,000 Transportation Security Officers often referred to agents and screeners. The TSOs screen property and people and control entry and exit points of airports. The officers also watch areas before and beyond the check-points surrounding airports. Officers have no powers to arrest, they carry no weapons and have no permission to use any form of force. For the purposes of boosting the morale of the officers, retaining them and keeping them focused to the provision of security at the airports, TSA provides commensurate and attractive payment packages of up to $38,277 a year.
Behavior Detection Officers are the other significant part of TSA staff that ensure the security of airports. Officers provide security of airports through Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques. The technique spread across the United States in 2007. BDOs look at passengers going through security checks with the aim of detecting those with wayward behaviors considered suspicious. Passengers with behaviors that may pose security risks to others undergo additional screening. The program has suffered criticism as a framework to harass passengers based on their ethnicities, religious affiliations and looks.
Another essential staffing group that provides airport security is the Federal Air Marshal Service. The FAMs are federal law enforcement officers that work undercover to secure aviation department from hostile attacks. Federal Air Marshals do not carry weapons. In addition, the airport security personnel include Transportation Security Inspectors who investigate and inspect passenger and cargo transportation frameworks to ascertain their security. Among the inspectors are about 100 surface inspectors, 450 cargo inspectors and 1,000 aviation inspectors.
National Explosives Detection Canine Teams Program is another unique team endowed with the responsibility of ensuring security using the dog unit. The trainers prepare dogs and their handlers to serve as the mobile unit that can quickly detect dangerous materials. With the help of dogs, officers in this department can quickly go through luggage of passengers and ascertain absence of explosives without having to physically open the baggage. Additionally, TSA has Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams which ensure aviation security. The VIPR teams came into existence in 2005 and responds to security alerts of airports. All these teams within the security system of airports work together under the guidance of TSA head offices to ensure there are no dangerous incidences around or within airports or during flights.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is an agency of Department of Transport that oversees and regulates all prospects of American civil aviation. The organization that was created in 1958 under the Federal Aviation Act regulates commercial space transportation. It also provides a framework within which the safety of US airports must adhere. Federal Aviation Administration has special programs for ensuring security of passengers on transit. Further, the department works in collaboration with United States Department of Homeland Security to maintain security of all citizens within and around aviation exit and entry points.
Federal Aviation Administration’s Safety Management Program (SMS) outlines the safety procedures that all airports and aviation facilities must maintain to ensure the security of the land and passengers. FAA’s Safety Management Program lays down the foundations for facilities, and requisite security personnel qualifications and traits that ensure the security of passengers and luggage. SMS also gives a detailed account of procedures security personnel need to carry out in the process of conducting routine searches and screening. Most significantly, FAA’s Safety Management Program draws the boundaries that confine and direct actions of the various security personnel at aviation facilities.
FAA’s Safety Management Program ensures that flights within the United States are operated by competent pilots and co-pilots. The agency also sets standards for aircraft designs and safety precautions. FAA provides certification to aircrafts operating on the US space to ensure there is safety of people and property under transit. It formulates and implements different phases and levels that flight standard verifications go through. In areas where the FAA feels there is a need for refresher trainings, it provides the requisite trainings to airport staff, pilots and other administrators to fulfill its security mandates.
Realization of long-lasting security of aviation facilities depends on co-operation of airport facility management and aviation regulatory bodies. It is imperative that there be full adherence to the requirements of United States Transportation Security Administration as well as Federal Aviation Administration guidelines. In addition, public informant systems are fundamental to keep intelligence agencies informed on the possibilities of terror attacks and harm to the public. Regulatory bodies formed over the years to oversee aviation security have yielded formidable success to improving airport security.
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