Aviation Security and Effects in Post 9/11 Environment


1 Background of the Study To reach the current aviation security status, the USA aviation security system has gone through several gradual developments. This system has transformed from the insecure old system, through the radar technology to the present NextGen technology (Benny, 2012). An important milestone that was very important to the US aviation security was launching the Plan for the Security Control of Air Traffic and Air Navigation Aids (SCATANA) initiated in June 1971 (Ramani, 1996). SCATANA was an emergency preparedness initiative for America that comprehensively described joint actions to be used by elements of the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and Department of Defense in the interest of the US citizens. It targeted at to take full control of air traffic control under emergency cases (Kayton & Walter, 1997).

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Despite all aviation security measures that the US had put in place, Al-Qaeda managed to successfully launce a terrorist attack in New York City and Washington DC on 11th September 2001. 19 members of the al-Qaeda terrorist groups managed to hijack four passenger planes, and intended to crash them to targeted buildings in America. They successively managed to gain control over the cockpits of the hijacked planes and directed the planes to the targeted buildings. Fortunately, air traffic ground controllers managed to divert these planes to other different locations. US Government moved so fast in a bid to come up with a better security system that could assure the security of its citizens.

As a result, the NextGen security system that uses ADS-B technology came into existence. Considering the better security measures gadgets used in NextGen technology, I support the argument that the US is safer in a post 9/11 environment (Benny, 2012). 1.2 Problem Statement Before the 9/11 terrorist attack the US believed that their aviation security measures were sufficient to grant American citizens their security right. Indeed, the Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System (ATCRBS), which was used by air traffic controllers before 11th September 2001 had successfully served the people from 1940s.

It was only after the success of the terrorist attack in 9/11 that the US Government realized weaknesses in its aviation security system. Does it therefore mean that the US could still be using the Radar security system if the al-Qaeda terrorist group could not have launched the attack? As a response to attack, the American Government has dropped the old Radar security system and adopted a seemingly better NextGen technology. Indeed, the current security system appears to be far much better. It incorporates several latest technology security gadgets to locate the exact location of an aircraft as well as ascertaining its velocity (Hill & Burgees, 2011). However, what is the surety that this technology has made the aviation environment safe? Are there possible weaknesses in the NextGen security system? What is the surety that terrorist cannot take advantage of weaknesses in the NextGen security system? 1.3 Justification of the Study The highly dynamic nature technology has made the world grow from the old manual system to the current automated systems (Mahapatra et al.

, 1999). This is justified by the development of the US aviation security from a manual Radar security system to an automated NextGen security system. On the other hand, terrorist groups are making technological progress including trying to hack the US Government intelligence system. This implies that if there are any weaknesses in the security system, terrorist will make use of it to launce another attack. Note that apart from external terrorist threats, the US Government is also experiencing several internal terrorist threats (Benny, 2012). 1.

4 Objectives of the study To identify the air traffic control security system weaknesses Before 9/11; To identify the air traffic control security system weaknesses after 9/11; To identify some advantages of the NextGen security system. 1.5 Significance of the Study This study will critically analyze the air traffic control system used by the USA before the 9/11 terrorist attack. In this analysis, it will note some weaknesses in the security system. Addition, the study will also critically analyze the aviation security system adopted after 9/11 and point out some advantages as well as weaknesses in the system. At the end of the day, this study will be in a position to establish whether the current aviation security system has sealed all the loopholes that were discovered in the old air traffic control security system or not.

1.6 Scope of the Study In this study, the researcher will review literature on air control systems that have been used in the USA from 1940 to the present date. These literatures will come from books, and journals locally found and other online materials that can be found on the internet. Note that this study will specifically concentrate in the USA. 2.

0 Literature Review 2.1 Introduction This study critically analyzes the air traffic control system in the US in two phases namely, the era before 9/11 and the error after 9/11.Lacomme (2011) explains that since 1940s, USA has been using radio Detection and Ranging (RADAR) technology in air traffic control. During this period, this was the best technology that could be used to locate aircrafts in space, ships, and vehicles. Although the system was more manual than automatic, it served the world sufficiently (Wirth, 2001).

However, the advance in the field of technology made the aviation industry find another better air traffic control system that used Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast ADS-B technology. In the USA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has dubbed this system NextGen (Next Generation Air Transportation System) which is being set up all over the world using the traditional transponder frequency (Benny, 2012). 2.2 The Era before 9/11 For several years prior to 9th September 2011, the USA just like many other nations made use of Radar security system in air traffic controlling. Radar detects objects in space by making use of radio waves to ascertain the altitude, range, direction, and speed of aircrafts (Hill & Burgees, 2011).

This technology was used to detect ships, aircrafts, guided missiles, space crafts, motor vehicles, terrain and weather information. To accomplish this, Air Traffic Control system had several components. First is the radar antenna or dish that rotates at a pre-established rate, broadcasting to the airspace narrow vertical beams, which detects aircrafts in different altitudes. This antenna transmits microwaves or radio waves thatcan bounce off when it hits an object along their path. Secondly, radar system had another receiving antenna positioned at the same position as the transmitter.

After hitting the object, part of the wave energy is transmitted back to the receiving antenna (Benny, 2012). However, radar security system suffered a lot of weakness. First, Doppler Effect affected the performance of this system. Doppler Effect is a shift in frequency caused by movement in the air, which changes the wavelengths between the transmitter and the reflector. Secondly, radar suffered from polarization effect (Benny, 2012).

This is because there are natural electrical fields that can polarize electromagnetic radiations produced by the radar reflectors. Other factors include noise, signal interference, clutter, and jamming (Hill & Burgees, 2011). 2.3 The Era after 9/11 After the 9/11 terrorist attack, the USA transformed from the old radar air traffic control system to the ADS-B system. The Federal Aviation Administration, the federal body for aviation security, has dubbed ADS-B system NextGen (Next Generation Air Transportation System).

2.31 Components of the NextGen Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) ADS-B will make use of global Position System (GPS) satellite, which will be sending signals that will give pilots and air traffic controlling system a more close and accurate information (Angelov, 2012). This will assist in keeping aircrafts safely away from runways and from each other’s way while in the sky. Aircraft controllers will be receiving GPS signals, which will be used to ascertain the exact position of the aircraft (Yeo & Sun, 2012). Next Generation Network Enabled Weather (NNEW) Research indicates that more than 70% of NAS delays are caused by bad weather conditions.

NNEW is a new technology that intends to cut down more than half of the delays attributed to bad weather conditions (Angelov, 2012). This technology will achieve this through linking tens of thousands of sensor reports and global observations from ground, space based, and airborne into one national weather information system, which is updated in real time (Hill & Burgees, 2011). Data Generation and Communication devices Currently, communication between aircraft controllers and the pilots or the aircrew is established via voice communication. This communication system failed to provide a two way communication between the controllers and the aircrew. NextGen has introduced data communication system that allows a two way communication t for clearance control, giving instructions, advises, and pilot’s requests (Dillingham, 2008).

NAS voice switch (NVS) Currently, NAS is having seventeen voice switching mechanism which has been used for the last twenty years. NVS is intended to replace this voice switching system by putting in place a single ground/ground and air/ground communication systems (Xu, 2001). System Wide Information Management (SWIM) SWIM is a technology that will deliver an information management system and single infrastructure, which will provide data to all the other minor information systems, applications, and users. In addition, SWIM will reduce the number of systems and interfaces and thus reducing data redundancy and encourage multi-use information and data sharing (Xu, 2001). In addition, an ADS-B system has three major components inter alia, ground infrastructure, operating procedures, and airborne components (Hill & Burgees, 2011).

ADS-B is divided into two elementary functions namely, ADS-B In and ADS-B Out. Aircrafts with ADS-B Out works by communicating a GPS-derived location and velocity information from the aircraft in space via an ADS-B Universal Access Transceiver or Mode S Transponder to the ground stations, ground vehicles, and other aircrafts. This information will then be used for air traffic control (Wensveen, 2007). On the other hand, ground control stations and other aircrafts are equipped with an ADS-B. This component allows control stations and aircrafts to receive signals transmitted by an ADS-B Out. In addition to position and velocity, the transmitted signal also gives weather and traffic information (Wensveen, 2007).

The received traffic information is usually similar to the one provided by the Traffic Advisory System, Traffic Information System, and other relevant systems that are used today (Hill & Burgees, 2011). 2.4 The Global Aspect Some few years preceding the 9/11 terrorist attack made the cost of aircraft fuel increase dramatically as a result leading to aircrafts increasing baggage fees, fuel surcharges, and other costs of a ticket. However, traveling cost has been reducing in the last few years. According to the report produced by Department of Transportation, the cost of fuel per gallon hiked by 1.

4% from January to December 2012. 2.5 The Multimodal Aspect For automobiles traveling from BWI airport to Atlanta’s airport, fuel cost has behaved the same way just like aircrafts moving from USA to Europe. In particular, the Department for Transportation comments that total fuel consumption for this automobile was 9.2 million in January 2012droped by 7.7% during the year and in December it further dropped by 3%.

The table below illustrates this information (Hill & Burgees, 2012). 2.6 The Technological Aspect Aircraft manufacturers have come up aircraft whose engines are very efficient in fuel utilization. Some other factors that make these aircrafts very efficient are their convex shape and regular engine servicing. Examples of aircrafts include Airbus A340, Antonov An-225 Mriya, Airbus 380, and Boeing 747.

These aircrafts are equipped with ADS-B technology, which is also used to detect and predict the presence of birds during flight and thus avoid them in good time. The mechanism used to detect these birds has been explained in section 2.21 (Hill & Burgees, 2011). 2.7 The Political Aspect Since 11th September 2001, the USA Congress has made several legislation, which have improved security in aviation. In addition, for the last five years the congress has made legislation that have regulated airline fuels hedging programs.

Examples of legislation passed so far include the 2012 bill that shielded airlines from European Union rules, the 2012 bill that allowed USA aircrafts to skirt in European Union ETS, and the 2012 fuel hedging program, which halted USA aircrafts from complying with the European Union carbon scheme. 2.8 The Social Aspect Socially, the National Wildlife research Centre (NWRC) human resource conduct routine researches that provide critical information to FAA relating to measures that can be taken to mitigate bird-aircraft strike risks. NWRC make researches that focus on making the aviation industry understand the nature of wild animals in airports, develop wildlife management tools, and provide airport personnel with information of strategies that have been put in place to control wildlife hazards (Hill & Burgees, 2011). 3.

0 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 3.1 Types and Sources Of Data To achieve the objectives stated above, the study mad use of both qualitative and quantitative data. Both primary and secondary data collected from journals, books, interviews, and questionnaires were used. Key primary data informants were managers of different aircraft companies in USA while secondary data was collected from books found locally and from online sources. 3.

2 Data Collection Methods. This study mainly utilized structured interviews and questionnaires. The researcher used random sampling method to get the sample population. The population was interviewed using structured questions while questionnaires were given to the sample population in cases where respondents were not in a position to attend interviews. 3.3 Data Analysis methods.

Data was analyzed using qualitative methods. Frequencies, means, and percentages were used to analyze and simplify data obtained to meet the first objectives, while descriptive statistics were applied in the analysis of data useful in meeting the second objectives. 3.4 Summary of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations. In this study, the researcher came up with several findings.

The air traffic control system used in the USA before 9/11 was the best the best system by then; The Radar security system had several weaknesses such as microwave interference of by the earth’s magnetic system; The terrorist attack launched in 9/11 made use of the weaknesses in the Radar security system; The NextGen security system uses the latest technology and thus it is the best so far; Although NextGen security system has very minor weaknesses, it is important that the weaknesses are eliminated; The US population is convinced that the NextGen technology gives them sufficient security against aviation insecurities. Just as explained in the literature review section, NextGen as some few errors that FAA has termed it minor. However, the researcher recommends that measures should be put in place to ensure that these minor weaknesses do not exist. Note that the more the US Government is trying to better their security system, the more the terrorist try to find methods of breaking into this security systems. Therefore, they can make use of the minor weaknesses in the NextGen security system and launch another attack. Secondly, the Government should note that technology is developing at a very first rate.

This implies that NextGen system should embrace change in technology.