To Australian Aviation Security Regulations Engineering Essay


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"Aviation Cargo represents the single most dangerous activity in modern aviation". Discuss this statement with reference to Australian Aviation Security regulations, and international security incidents within the last 15 years.

This essay should be 3000 words in length (excluding references) with a deviation tolerance of 10%.

The essay is worth 20% of the overall marks for this unit.

This essay is a research assignment. Students are expected to cite and reference their sources according to ECU guidelines. Particular attention should be given to the type of source material which is used in order to support your essay arguments. Current peer-reviewed journal articles will be favored over non-reviewed websites and magazine articles. In other words, students should attempt to present an argument which is as academically sound and rigorously presented as possible.

Assignment 2 should be written according to standard ECU essay format. Headings are allowable as long as they are kept to a minimum.

References must be used in accordance with ECU Referencing Guide which is on Blackboard and is also able to be purchased from the ECU Bookshop.

Assessment 2 must be submitted to me electronically through your (my ECU) Blackboard site by 5pm 28th May.

 I have attached some relevant information from the Blackboard site with which you should all be familiar. It provides information on writing and submitting assignments, referencing etc. All of this information is readily available on Blackboard and I would have expected students to already have made themselves familiar with this information. It will also be relevant to Assessment 2.

"Aviation Cargo represents the single most dangerous activity in modern aviation". Discuss this statement with reference to Australian Aviation Security regulations, and international security incidents within the last 15 years.

In a society where international trading is very common and people are looking to trade their goods as quick as possible, transportation via aviation is becoming even more commonly utilized. Given that 26.2% of freight has been transported via aviation means in the United States of America, then that would high light the security related issues of aviation cargo transportation (Elias, B. 2007) [1] . Two primary sources of income in the aviation industry are the transportation of goods and people, both domestically and internationally. Although there a several security risks involved in aviation cargo and the transportation of goods via aircraft, there are several protocols in place that are constantly being innovated and enhanced on to better the aviation cargo security as much as possible. Aviation cargo may be a dangerous form of freight transportation, but it is not the most dangerous segment of the aviation industry with sabotage only accounting for 3.75% of accidents, it should be noted that in Aviation history the most occurring cause of incident in the aviation industry has been that of human error which accounts for 67.57% of accidents, that being not only pilot error but the judgment of others involved also. [2] The financial security of the aviation industry and the security of the people or goods that are either using or maintaining the aviation industry are directly linked to be the primary sources of potential income for the aviation industry. These can also be seen as exact definitions of danger due to the many risks that pose a threat over the aviation industry, therefore aviation cargo emphasizes a possible substantial security risk to either the finances of the industry or the passengers themselves. It is necessary to measure the cost of regulating and operating the transportation of aviation cargo and then to have that cost to be compared with the potential dangers of the transportation of aviation cargo. Aviation cargo is necessary for the development of aviation both domestically and internationally.

Yes, aviation cargo can be considered a danger to the aviation industry, but not the most dangerous, air cargo can also bring several financial benefits. Air cargo can be exposed to several security risks, potentially being associated with risks such as explosive and incendiary devices held in the cargo placed aboard the transport aircraft; undeclared of undetected hazardous materials could be aboard the aircraft for shipment; theft and smuggling could be relevant to the air cargo, individuals who have access to the aircraft could potentially sabotage or even hijack the aircraft (Elias, B. 2007) [3] . Because aviation cargo is not as extensively screened as passengers, it has become regarded as an attractive target for crime and terrorism (Elias, B. 2007) [4] . However, cargo would not be a likely target for terrorists as connections to and assistance of those who have access to the specific aircraft is required, an attack on all-cargo aircraft would not generate as much public and media attention that the bombing of a commercial passenger aircraft would have. Historically, bombing in 'U.S.' airliners have been rare, and in most cases bombs placed in either checked passenger baggage or the passenger cabin of the aircraft. Given that al Qaeda has claimed to have considered placing bombs in cargo, specifying air cargo as a significant vulnerability, emphasizes an issue of particular concern (Elias, B. 2007) [5] . Procedures for the screening of passengers, baggage and aircraft could potentially emphasize cargo as a more attractive medium for terrorists to place such critically dangerous devices. However, without the cooperation and assistance of those with direct access to aircraft such as cargo workers themselves, it would be less appealing to terrorists to plot aviation cargo as a means of placing explosives or incendiary devices. Increasing the background checks of workers with access to aircraft and the physical security of cargo operations is required to decrease the threat of explosives and incendiary devices.

Highlighted in 1996 was the crash of 'ValuJet DC-9' in the Florida Everglades, where the risks introduced by hazardous materials not being declared. Determined by the National Transportation Safety Board, was that an intense fire was ignited by improperly carried oxygen generators aboard the aircraft. [6] Undeclared and undetected shipments of hazardous materials persist in being a significant safety issue in the aviation industry, despite the increase in enforcement efforts by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation. The focus is on preventing the unauthorized shipments of these hazardous materials aboard all aircraft rather than the hazard of having such dangerous materials aboard passenger aircraft. Approximately 75% of hazardous materials shipped by aircraft are carried aboard all- cargo aircraft, the remaining 25% of hazardous materials are shipped on passenger aircraft only. [7] Implementation of air cargo security measures become further developed to increase the detection of undeclared hazardous materials is important as the health and safety of passengers and staff can be put at risk whilst the cost of goods can be costly.

Cargo crime is a very significant issue in the aviation industry that could not only have an impact on the aviation industry itself but also other industries as well as society. The importance of cargo security is therefore highlighted by the possible financial loss from cargo crimes. [8] Air cargo security has been highlighted as a potential weakness from the large estimated level of cargo theft and other cargo crimes, the larger portion of aviation cargo crime has been either committed by or with the cooperation and assistance of the cargo workers themselves, given that such contact is necessary to gain access to the aircraft or the cargo network. Hence, increased security measures and protocols such as more frequent conduction of background checks of the cargo workers and further enhancement to the physical security of cargo operations; these are areas that are likely to reduce the occurrence of cargo related crimes and to improve the capability of detecting criminal activity and behavior in aviation cargo operations. It is recommended that more effective reporting of cargo theft systems be implemented, more effective sharing of information and education of the nature of cargo crime to those specifically in the government and industry, weaknesses in current transportation crime laws have to be addressed for more effective prosecution, more effective support for cargo theft task forces must be utilized, a better education of cargo theft to those in the local law enforcement, and more effective cargo security technologies need to be implemented such as cargo tracking systems, high speed screening devices, tamper-evident and tamper-resistant seals, and the integration of security technology into the supply chain management system. [9] Given that these recommendations are taken it would go a long way into being beneficial to aviation cargo security entirely.

Potential aircraft hijackings and sabotage of aircraft become a possible risk posed by those individuals with direct access to the aircraft. The hijacking of aircraft has been significantly rare, in most cases where the occurrence has happened aviation security had been in a weaker state and such flaws have now been dealt with and sufficient security protocols and regulations have been put in place to secure. In December 7, 1987 a PSA regional jet aircraft crashed near San Luis Obispo, an individual had used their credentials that grant themselves access to the aircraft to bypass the existing security measures. This person was a former employee of USAir and had been recently fired for alleged theft; he had used his employee identification to bypass the airport security measures whilst armed with a hand gun. [10] At the time in which this situation occurred, security measures were inadequate and federal regulations permitted the airline employees to bypass the security checkpoints of the airport, presently airport and air cargo security regulations have been tightened to include the necessary background checks and physical screening of the individuals with access to aircraft since such incidents of aircraft hijackings and sabotaging. However, without the proper full screening of the air cargo and airport personnel, the potential risk of unauthorized access or potential passing of weapons inside the secured areas of airports can occur. Under recently imposed relegations, steps to prevent access to aircraft by unauthorized personnel must be implemented and it has to be insured that all crewmembers and personnel carried aboard aircraft are to be prevented from carrying any form of weapons, explosives and other threatening items (Elias, B. 2007) [11] . Sabotage by individuals who have access to the aircraft is to also be considered a potential risk, but to sabotage critical systems of flight a generally high level of knowledge in that of aircraft systems would be necessary, and most cases of sabotage would be detected in the pre-flight check. Terrorists will always be looking to innovate new ways of attack so it would be highly recommendable that new technologies are implemented to prevent the risk of hijacking and sabotage of aircraft.

Cargo screening and inspection has been highlighted as the focal point of required improvement in aviation security. Whilst there have been regulations and moves to improve the subject there is still a large portion of cargo that is transported unscreened and without inspection, 80% of cargo went unscreened in 2005 [12] , this is something that needs to change as it is pivotal to the improvement of the security of both the aviation industry finances and the safety of the people involved in the aviation industry. Currently, given that there is no technology available to efficiently screen one hundred percent of cargo for all types of threats such as explosives and hazardous materials, to have one hundred percent of the cargo to be screened or inspected is seen as not being a viable solution by the TSA (Elias, B. 2008) [13] . According to the TSA fifty percent of the air cargo on passenger aircraft is screened, whilst ninety six percent of cargo on all-cargo aircraft is screened, there is an eighty five percent chance that an aircraft you were to fly on would have cargo aboard that has been screened. TSA state that they intend to implement a system where more background checks are performed on all personnel with access to the aircraft and to further the percentage of cargo aboard all aircraft that is screened.

Currently, the technology available for air cargo screening and inspection is not capable of achieving one hundred percent screening and inspection of cargo. Significant improvement of air cargo screening technology has recently become a focus of legislation in order to enhance the security of air cargo. Tamper-evident tapes and seals are being implemented for indication of cargo tampering at a low cost but could be bypass, the more expensive electronic seals are more effective and better technologies such as a global positioning system and radio-frequency identification technologies are being researched. [14] 

Cargo screening is essential to diminishing the risks posed to cargo; at the moment not all cargo is screened on passenger aircraft which can prove a significant loss of both life and finance. Various technologies are under consideration for cargo screening and explosive detection, x-ray technology, chemical trace systems and even neutron beam technologies are being implemented and researched, all taking significant time to be used which could impact cargo procedures as well as being very costly. [15] X-ray technology can prove very effective but has a high risk of false alarm, neutron beam technologies are far too expensive and time consuming, more efficient technologies are necessary.

Hardened cargo container technology is being implemented to diminish threat of explosion or fire caused by explosive materials aboard the aircraft, although the significant weight of the devices could impact airline operations by being costly, increasing the costs of fuel and lowering revenues. Employees entering secured airport areas are being screened by biometric screening technologies, which utilize biometric transportation security cards for authentication of individuals with background checks for clearance to secure facility areas. [16] The implementation of biometric screening technology would significantly benefit cargo security as would the researching of faster screening technologies, whilst hardened containers would prove unnecessary.

Significant to both the air cargo industry and the federal government, is the cost of air cargo security operations. On the long-term security operations could present significant challenges, but compared to the potential costs of terrorist attacks [17] , it is clear such operations are worth funding, the issue is that aviation only presents a small percentage of the overall revenue therefore such funding would prove unnecessary. Funding to aviation cargo has gradually increased overtime, although it is given a much smaller portion of all the funding in the industry, at approximately two percent. Between operations and research development, $85 million were funded in 2004, $105 million in 2005, $85 million in 2006 and $50 thousand in operations alone in 2007. [18] This emphasizes that sufficient funding is put into air cargo security and this could go to producing more advanced explosive detection and cargo screening technology for the future.

Finally, the potential benefits and the possible risks of each approach to an air cargo security solution have to be weighed up. Supporting the known shipper program with a system intended as a targeting took could provides flexibility at a relatively small budget, with the risk of limited security and over reliance of the known shipper programs and also the risk of explosives is not suppressed effectively because of limited screening. By increasing the funding for physical security or air cargo facilities the risk of air cargo crime could be suppressed but could prove very costly and may not suppress the risk of explosives in cargo that has been pre packaged, but cargo only accounts for 5% of revenue to the aviation industry, this could pose a large financial loss.

Tamper resistant and tamper evident containers may suppress the threat of terrorists and explosives, but the cheaper solutions are ineffective, and it would prove a waste of funding to be used with extensive cargo screening. More effective physical screening of personnel with access to cargo facilities and aircraft can ensure workers meet the same security level as passengers, mitigating the risk of explosives; this could come with a high cost, also requiring additional screening staff and facilities. Increasing the screening of air cargo could stop terrorists from placing explosives in air cargo, but also impacting the operations and schedules of air cargo and without full screening some explosives could proceed undetected. Full screening of air cargo would ensure that the air cargo and passengers with their property are on the same security level, but this would come at a high cost, significantly impacting the schedules of air cargo as well as dropping the revenue of air carriers. [19] Increasing the funding to research and development of air cargo security could lead to improving air cargo security and developing new technologies, but there is always technical uncertainty in current technologies. Implementation of hardened cargo containers could suppress the effects of explosions or fires in-flight but it would increase the costs of fuel and drop the level of revenue as well as having its effectiveness decreased if terrorists can bypass the pre-screening process.

Is air cargo dangerous to the industry? It could be, but if maintained and secured effectively then it would become more beneficial than not. As well as that, it is not the most dangerous segment of the aviation industry, although it has a higher rate of accident than passenger flights, the reasons are not so much because of the cargo but more so to do with other factors, most significantly human error. [20] . Most aviation accidents are a result of pilot, mechanical or structural error, air cargo incidents are very rare compared to those mentioned compared to the mere 3.5% of accidents that are caused by sabotage.

Is aviation cargo is a danger to the aviation industry? The reality is that air cargo may pose dangers, but nowhere near as significant as other factors, especially human error. This is not to say that air cargo does not pose a danger, and for this reason it is essential that funding and change is implemented. Funding the enhancement of cargo security will prove costly, it should be maintained as it is best to secure the industry in every possible way, but it should be an aim to improve on the more statistically proven dangerous areas of the industry such as pilot fatigue and maintenance errors. Air cargo poses a greater risk of hijacking and smuggling of goods, there are several ways this is being countered, such as the implementation of more advanced screening devices and increasing background checks of staff, but sabotage only accounts for 3.75% of accidents. Without access to people with access to aircraft, terrorists cannot harm the cargo, so it is essential that these people with access are effectively screened and have effective background checks. Stated in the White Paper, is that the Australian government is advancing towards an aim of 100% scanning of export cargo. [21] However, a risk based system is preferred by the airlines as they disagree. 100% scanning of cargo is seen as being too costly and time consuming, especially on cargo-only flights which are of low profit as cargo is also more expensive to scan. The aviation industry only derives 5% revenue from cargo. [22] Continued funding could go a long way to developing better technologies; it is still a problem that it is not possible to screen cargo one hundred percent, the question at hand though, is that is it necessary to fund researching of cargo security developments given that, well it is, aviation security is never 100% secure, it is essential to keep innovating new technologies and regulations to better the system to counter future security risks, this means that the security of the industry has to be improved on every level. The most effective method of securing air cargo is to achieve 100% screening despite its revenue and time consumption costs, implementing all security measures such as tamper resistant seals, enhanced screening and hardened containers together proves unnecessary and expensive. Hardened containers and tamper resistant seals prove unnecessary, enhanced screening, the implementation of biometric screening, the implementation of more thorough and efficient background checks on individuals with access to cargo facilities or aircraft and the restriction of access points are recommended to essentially securing cargo. The main threat still remains to be the issues of mechanical error, structural error and especially pilot error, this must be improved on to secure the finances and safety of those involved in the aviation industry.

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