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attack of 911 has posed a serious threat to the aviation industry. For the first the world could realize that airplanes are not only the mode of transportation but can also be utilized as potential bombs. Many passengers are apprehensive of air travel. This led Governments, Policy Makers, aviation industries and regulatory authorities to think a while about aviation security. The aviation security is being revolutionized since then to adopt newer technology for the purpose of ensuring the need of complete baggage screening, explosive detection, biometry identification, risk analyses, deployment of adequate skilled personnel, strengthening of cockpit doors etc.
An analysis of the effects of September 11th and Terrorism on Aviation in the United States and Around the World
The terrorist attack in the morning of September 11, 2001 converted the United States became a nation transformed. An airliner flying at the speed of hundreds of miles per hour with about 10000 gallons of jet fuel plunged into the North Tower of the World Trade Centre in Lower Manhattan at 8:46 AM. Seventeen minutes later, another airliner dashed into the South Tower. The Twin Towers collapsed within 90 minutes with fire, smoke puffing upward and steel, glass, ash and bodies falling below. A third airliner at 9:37 AM rushed into the western face of the Pentagon. A fourth airliner crashed into the field in Southern Pennsylvania at 10:03 AM that was targeting the Capitol of U.S. Or White House but forced down by the passengers. The death toll rose to more than 2600 in World Trade Center, 125 at Pentagon and 256 on four planes that outnumbered that of the incident at Pearl Harbor in December 1941. (The 9/11 Commission Report-Final Report of the National commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States)
This attack was perpetrated by 19 young Arabs, in group of four to five taking with them only small knives, box cutters and cans of Mace or pepper spray could able to hijack four plane and able to convert them into deadly guided missiles. On the very day the 19 hijackers could able to get through a security checkpoint system and their success in penetrating the system was cent percent. The defense of U.S. air space at the moment was relying upon the two federal agencies, the Federal Aviation Administration -- FAA and North American Aerospace Defense Command -- NORAD. The prevailing protocols on September 11 were quite unfavorable that resulted in an attack with utilization of hijacked planes as weapons. Immediate attempt was to bring refinements to the system for developing defense mechanism by civilians who never handled a hijacked aircraft that attempted to disappear and by military not ready enough to deal with a situation of transformation of commercial aircraft into weapons of mass destruction.
The probe into the incident brought out several points of vulnerability at the spot and operational failures of the opportunities those were not exploited by the organizations and systems at the moment. The vulnerabilities and loopholes included, not watch listing the future hijackers Hazmi and Mihdhar, not following them after their travel to Bangkok, not publicizing the information linking individuals in the Cole attack to Mihdhar, not taking sufficient timely measures to find out Mihdhar or Hazmi in the U.S., not according due emphasis to the nab of Zacarias Moussaoui, narrated as interested in flight training with a view to utilizing an airplane in a terrorist act, not recognizing passports fraudulently manipulated, not ientifying airline passengers by the computer-based screening system, not strengthening aircraft cockpit doors or taking other measures to prepare for the possibility of suicide hijackings. (The 9/11 Commission Report-Final Report of the National commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States)
The missed opportunities to prevent the 9/11 incident were also regarded as signs of a general inefficacy to adapt the mode government handles problems to the new challenges of the twenty-first century. The permeable aviation security system was exploited up to the maximum possible extent by the hijackers to their advantage after studying the publicly available materials on the aviation security system and applied arms that contains less metallic material and were mostly permissible. Irrespective of the fact that two of the hijackers were on the U.S. TIP OFF terrorist watch list, the FAA failed to utilize the TIP OFF data. The hijackers succeeded after beating only one layer of security -- the security checkpoint process. Although, several hijackers were chosen for extra screening by the CAPPS system, this was applied to greater scrutiny of their checked baggage. Once on board the hijackers could easily captivate the aircraft personnel those were trained to be non-confrontational in the event of a hijacking.
Taking the magnitude of the menace of the day and especially the security loopholes it has become imperative to devise strategies to protect against and prepare for terrorist attacks. The recommendations, among others, were to deal with the problems of screening people with biometric identifiers along the agencies and governments incorporating out border and transportation systems by chalking out a complete screening system that deal with common problems and sets common standards; rapidly finalize a biometry entry exit screening system, that also speeds qualified travelers; devise strategies for ignored parts of the transportation security system; to avoid arguments about a new computerized profiling system from delaying introduction of crucial improvements in the 'no-fly' and 'automatic selectee' lists. (The 9/11 Commission Report-Final Report of the National commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States)
The attacks of September 11, 2001 led to accord renewed urgency to the security of the aviation system of United States and the efforts to strengthen the aviation security have received a great deal of congressional attention. The Congress passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act on November 19, 2001, that established the Transportation Security Administration under the Department of Transportation. The TSA was assigned with the primary responsibility of ascertain security in aviation along with that in other modes of transportation. The Congress enacted Homeland Security Act on November 25, 2002 that placed the TSA under the newly created Department of Homeland Security that was assigned with the overall responsibility for aviation security. The Act of Aviation and Transport Security shifted the security-screening responsibilities from the airlines to TSA and laid down a set of requirements to enhance the aviation security. (Aviation Security Progress since September 11, 2001, and the Challenges Ahead)
The Act required, among others the deployment of federal screeners in all the 429 commercial airports in the nation within one year and also to adopt the application of Explosive Detection Technology at such airports to ensure screening of every place of checked baggage for explosives. Some of the Aviation Security liabilities continued to remain with FAA. To illustrate, FAA is liable for the security of its air traffic control and other computer systems and of its air traffic control systems. The Airport Improvement Program -- AIP trust fund is also to be administered by FAA that is applied in financing the capital improvements to airports, inclusive of some security developments like terminal medications to accommodate Explosive Detection Equipments. Over the years TSA and FAA implemented several measures to bring out considerable improvement in the field of aviation security. The TSA executed the congressional mandates and find out various choices for enhanced adoption of technology and information to regulate access to secure different areas of airports and to enhance passenger screening. (Aviation Security Progress since September 11, 2001, and the Challenges Ahead)
FAA concentrated on its continued efforts on enhancing the security of the air traffic control systems and facilities of the nation. In the initial year of its establishment the TSA attempted to concentrate mainly on adhering to the aviations security deadlines earmarked in ATSA. TSA started with 13 employees but within 1 year the Agency had hired and deployed about 65,000 passenger and baggage screeners, federal air marshals, and others. It could accomplish the target of deploying federal passenger screeners at airports by hiring, training, and deploying over 40,000 individuals to screen passengers at 429 commercial airports by November, 2002. It could be able to hire and deploy more than 20,000 individuals to screen all checked baggage during the period. It could adopt explosive detection systems or explosives trace detection equipment for the purpose of screening about 90% of all checked baggage by December 31, 2002.
It confiscated about 4.8 million prohibited items inclusive of firearms, knives and incendiary or flammable objects from passengers and has entailed considerable progress in expanding the Federal Air Marshal Service. In order to exert its greater regulation over access to secure areas of airports and other transportation facilities, TSA is extending the initiatives that entail greater utilization of technology and information. The Agency is probing into the establishment of a Transportation Workers Identification Card -- TWIC Program that envisages introduction of a uniform, nationwide standard for the secure identification of 12 million workers, those who require unescorted physical or cyber access to secure areas of airports and other transportation…[continue]
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