The Effect of Technology on Aviation Security

Subject: Tech & Engineering
Pages: 60
Words: 15478
Reading time:
56 min
Study level: Master

Abstract

The study examined the adoption and implementation of technology in the aviation industry and how this affects security in the industry. The purpose of this research is informed by the threats that the aviation industry continues to experience since the 1960s, when over 130 hijackings were recorded, especially for commercial airline planes. Until recently, significant attacks have been conducted on aviation, with over 200 on assets of transportation worldwide in the 2016 period. This attracted the action to be taken towards limiting these incidents through assessment of transportation threats, enforcement of regulations and requirements related to security, and ensuring the adequacy of security measures at airports and other facilities of transportation. However, recently, there have been destructions in the softer targets of the public area of airports because of the advancement in the tactics used and more creativity. It is based on these new scenarios that aviation authorities, airlines companies, and government agencies, including the TSA, have invested in the development of new security technology. By focusing on 6 participants, including the employees of airline companies, the aviation industry, and security personnel, the correlation relationship shows that technology and aviation security are positively and significantly related. The regression analysis reveals that 69.7% (R2=.697) variation in aviation security is explained by the implementation of changes in technology that are adopted within the aviation industry that are described by communication networks, big data, the internet, and handheld technology devices.

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Introduction

Background Information

In recent years, there have been increasing and more rapid technological developments. The 21st century has seen technology become one of the most influential factors in human life. Muratoglu (2019: 12) relates technology to a concept related to the shaping of goods, materials, and nature in modern use. The concept of security was expressed as the psychological and philosophical state of mind. In the modern world, airports have an important place since they provide relocation benefits in a short time. The recent days have seen extremely uncertain and fast changes causing the increasing need for security of strategically important buildings such as airports and growth points of cities. In the history of security in airports, there have been significant changes in the processes of security control since the 20th century (Kim et al. 2019: 5349). These developments in terms of security measures have been largely in response to various efforts of terrorists to target planes and passengers over the past 70 years.

In the 1960s, over 130 hijackings were recorded, especially for commercial airline planes, with the most prolific one of 1961 carried out by Antulio Ramirez Ortiz. The pattern of terrorist activities shifted since then from hijacking to taking passengers hostage, using weapons, constructing of improvised explosive devices, and the use of places themselves as bombs (Thomopoulos et al. 2019: 23). The year 2001 marked the beginning of suicide attacks making it a substantial risk to civil aviation. For instance, on the 9th of September 2001, there was a terrorist attack by Al-Qaeda on the Twin Towers (Skorupski and Uchroński 2018). On a sad note, there are multiple recent terrorist attacks against aviation that serve as reminders of the threats on air transportation and its stakeholders. In October 2015, the destruction was conducted against Metrojet Flight 9268, attributed to ISIL (Skorupski and Uchroński 2018). In February 2016, al Shabaab carried out an attack on Daallo Airlines Flight 159 (Janssen et al. 2019: 145). The two attacks involved the concealing of devices to circumvent security measures. The Arabian Peninsula Al Qaeda is another terror group that in the past has attacked aviation.

The series of these attacks and especially the September 11, 2011 tragedy, led to the creation of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) by the US Congress in just two months. Through the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), TSA responds to security in all modes of transportation. It is involved in the assessment of transportation threats, enforcement of regulations and requirements related to security, and ensures that security measures are adequate at airports and other facilities of transportation. Thus, TSA is involved in securing commercial aviation and protecting the traveling public from threats which include hijacking, weapons and explosive smuggling onboard, and ground-based attacks.

However, even with the creation and operations of TSA, there has been more destruction in the softer targets of the public area of airports has been witnessed in the recent past. It happened in the Brussels airport bombing in February 2016 and another attack on Ataturk Airport in Istanbul in June 2016 (Janssen et al. 2019: 147). During the 2016 period, terrorist groups were able to carry out at least 200 attacks on transportation assets worldwide. The turn of events shows enough evidence that the tactics used by terrorists have been evolving in relation to how they strike vulnerable areas, including aviation. Terrorists seem to have become creative in the way they make and control bombs while taking full advantage of the Western democracies’ openness to striking their aviation targets (Chavaillaz et al. 2019: 69). In today’s scenario, terrorists routinely broadcast their intentions to attack aviation and the aviation infrastructure on social media platforms and other propaganda outlets. The enemy is diffused and dispersed, and they masterfully manipulate communications and media to inspire attacks. Credible intelligence shows that these terrorist groups will continue to develop plans which target aviation and air transportation.

In response to the heightened risk of the aviation industry, airports and governments have invested more in aviation security. However, because of the changes in the threat profile, these investments have been diverted towards the development of new security technology (Al-Saad et al. 2019: 129). Security technology has seen the employment of explosive detection systems for cabin baggage screening. Similarly, there have been an increased number of airlines, passengers, and other aviation players, making security a significant factor. This makes it the role of everyone in the aviation industry to find out the best way of using technology to help solve the challenge of aviation security. There are other contemporary security measures that have been identified, including a variety of scans and checks such as X-ray scanning of belongings, pat-downs, and behavioral analysis methods. Skorupski and Uchroński (2018) identified some of the novel approaches that are currently being tested, which include facial scans seeking to find signs of hostile intent in people. With the increased reliance on technology, airport personnel are trained to operate and perform maintenance on it, neglecting behavioral analysis and other social forms of security, resulting in reduced skills in such.

Over the past few decades, the US and International Air Transportation Systems have shown significant growth and increased. The present-day has seen every segment within the airline industry under the control of technology, considering that airlines are seen as having been among the early adopters (Kim et al. 2019: 5349). The outcomes have been the increased dependency on technology by airlines to the extent that few aviation organizations can manage to function without the help of technology. The two sectors are interconnected in a way that ensures mutual and smooth interdependence among individuals. This has made it possible for airlines to understand the need to have proper information and communication technology systems that aid in work and realization of efficiency in operations (McNamara & Reicher 2019: 2258). For the aviation players to also remain relevant in the industry, they need updated technologies that are not in operation by competitors as a way of staying ahead of the pack.

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Besides the terrorism and other physical attacks on air transportation, the security of passengers has been at risk following the current COVID-19 pandemic challenge. Aviation industries have employed the use of technology to reduce the risk of exposure of passengers to the COVID-19 virus (Tuchen et al. 2020: 19). It is based on this that the fields of computer reservation systems, hotel booking, car rentals, and web check-in have experienced innovation (Kim et al. 2020: 89). It is, therefore, true that the passengers do not have to perform these functions by themselves.

The advancements would still continue to apply even if the COVID-19 is not available. The players within the aviation industry use the technology to ensure that coordination of services is available, especially in the airport between airlines, pilots, and ground staff, among others. The measures are most applicable at the airport immigration, customs, air traffic control, civil aviation, and others (Thomopoulos et al. 2019: 25). Therefore, from this background, it is evident that when security measures in place, are proper and technology is used in supporting the security, the operations of the industry will continue as goods, services, and people will move with limited interruption.

Aims/Purpose of the Study

recent years have seen changes in the tactics used by enemies, including terrorists, to conduct their attacks on aviation. Similarly, there has been significant use of the internet through social media platforms used by terrorists to advance their criminal and catastrophic attacks. The current security threat in air transport follows the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, combating the situation requires the use of sophisticated and highly advanced control measures. Communication networks will become important in aiding the aviation sector to overcome the major task of ensuring proper security. The use of technology has been employed by aviation industries to reduce the threat of attacks and the risk of exposure of passengers to the COVID-19 virus. It is through communication networks that proper tracking processes can be undertaken.

Also, communication among security threats can take place through networks. This can help security agents arrest the situation before it goes out of hand. Big data will assist in innovating smart technologies that are important in keeping airports and airlines secure. The world today is backing on the expertise of professionals in data science (Knol et al. 2019: 45). They can use data to develop models that can be best applied in managing security issue in airports. The internet plays a very important role in the aviation security sector in the US. Security threats can use the internet to explore the weak points in the aviation sector.

Similarly, security agencies can use technology to curb any threats to the sector. Handheld devices such as metal detectors, handheld scanners, radio calls, and others play a role in aviation security (Kim et al. 2019: 5349). However, even with the positive consequences of technology, it is limited in terms of safety, considering that human skills tend to lose value and make it difficult for people doing things using technology to be unable to do them without being assisted. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to seek to find out the effect of technology on aviation security and the usefulness of human skills in aviation security. It finds out how humans can be less dependent on technology and if there are ways that can be properly utilized in improving security at airports and other aviation-related grounds in the world.

Significance of the Study

The study on how technology impacts aviation security is significant, especially in the current situation, and this attracts the researcher’s interest. Aviation plays a significant role in the transportation sector globally, with over 1.7 billion people traveling by air yearly from one place to another (Khan et al. 2020: 482). Considering the fact that many people are traveling from one point to another, it is important to understand how far the advances in aviation security have been since 9/11. Significantly, billions of dollars and many years were invested in ensuring there is the growth of aviation security following the attacks that were carried on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

It is not logical that a significant amount of federal funds would be invested into airline security employment; in any case, there is a large discrepancy between the current performances and the results expected after that (Darabseh et al. 2020: 55). For many organizations, technology is a key asset as it has shown an advantage in the competitive environment. In the present day, technology runs every aspect of life, and many tasks are accomplished. The use of technology utilizes significantly minimal funds even as it performs its tasks. The Department of Homeland Security applies its Science and Technology Directorate to help strengthen aviation security through technology and support tools.

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The study is significant because it helps to learn the way technology influences aviation security. As indicated in the preliminary investigation, technology makes use of communication networks that utilizes big data from various sources to make sense so that the security agencies and other responsible persons can prevent or combat security threats (Michalski et al. 2020: 21). Technology is significantly reliant on the use of the internet, following the proven findings that terrorists and other criminals are using the internet to plan and execute their attacks on aviation sites and passengers. Multiple technological tools and devices used in security screening and detection in airports and amid airwaves will be identified in this study, making it significant enough, especially to the stakeholders.

Objective of the Study

The following are the objectives the study intends to achieve:

  • To find out the influence of communication networks on aviation security in the US
  • To study the effect of big data on aviation security in the US
  • To investigate the influence of the internet on the security of the aviation sector in the US
  • To establish the impact of handheld technology devices on aviation security

Research Questions

The study answers the following questions:

  • What is the influence of communication networks on aviation security in the US?
  • What is the effect of big data on aviation security in the US?
  • What is the influence of the internet on the security of the aviation sector in the US?
  • What is the impact of handheld technology devices on aviation security?

Structure of the Research Paper

The structure and outline of this research are based on the IBAM guidelines to facilitate the meeting of the objectives defined in this study. The paper is structured into five chapters beginning with the introduction and objectives chapter, literature review, research methodology, data analysis, and recommendations and conclusion. The introductory chapter delineates the study’s rationale and objectives while making the reader familiar with the context of the study. The literature review makes the second chapter offers a critical review of the debates around the use of technology in aviation and how this enhances the security of the aviation industry. The third chapter is the methodology that allows the discussion on the approaches used in finding information on the study while justifying the design strategy and elaborating the critical issues concerning the data collection methods, validity, and reliability of the data used and their implication to the study. Chapter four is the data analysis that includes comparative aspects by harnessing multiple inferential techniques to interpret and present data collected to help in drawing conclusions and recommendations. The final chapter is the conclusions and recommendations where the outcomes analyzed are assessed about the literature and against the objectives to draw a suitable conclusion.

Literature Review

Introduction

The literature review chapter presents an analysis of the literature related to the study. Past studies related to the subject topic are significant in guiding the researchers when conducting different research types already documented on the same topic. The current literature review chapter examines the available information on what technology used in aviation entails and how security is impacted in application areas. Karoly (2017) presented a paper on technologies that counter aviation security threats. The paper sought to understand the various technologies that assist in countering aviation security threats. The goal of the conference proceeding was also to rethink the security regime in the aviation industry in its entirety without having necessarily focused on particular sections in the enterprise, ensuring there is the distribution of security since reservation came through (Barnett 2017: 912). The other goal is to re-engineer aviation security from the top to the bottom while focusing on ensuring the entire system is secure. The technologies explored include advanced imaging technology, advanced X-ray technology, explosives trace detection, explosives detection system, differential phase contrast, and others.

Current Technologies Used in Airport Security

Technology have been subjected to multiple definitions in the literature regarding its applicability. Muratoglu (2019: 237) defines technology as the knowledge used in production methods in relation to the industry and the tools applied. Gnatyuk et al. (2019) tend to give a simple and narrow definition of what technology entails in relation to the knowledge and the know-how and experiences required to produce a good or service. Technology is therefore used in air transport, especially in airports, following the additional threats that have evolved over the years. According to Karoly (2017), the walk of the metal detector was the first technology deployed, followed by advanced imaging technology and machines to help detect more than metallic threats. This marked a significant step towards the closure of gaps for passenger-based threats. Muratoglu (2019: 237) identifies some of the security services in airports that utilize technology such as advanced imaging technology (AIT), luggage scanners, body scanners, cameras, and emotional analysis technology.

Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT)

AIT is identified by Karoly (2017) as having been developed by TSA after the walk-through metal detector to help detect more than metallic threats. The deployment of AIT machines involves using non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation similar to the one that is used to transmit wireless data that allows detection of objects concealed on the body of the passenger without having any physical contact. From Enerstvedt (2017), the systems of AIT are considered active millimeter-wave and tend to operate within the frequency range of 24- 30 gigahertz. AIT works in such a way that the stepping the passenger into the AIT machine and standing still, the wireless data transmitters produce millimeter waves which are then absorbed, scattered, or reflected as they pass through the person’s clothing. The millimeter waves are able to bounce the person’s skin off and identify any potential threats before returning back to the receivers.

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Wallis (2017), who also talked about AIT, associated them with applying the necessary algorithms to the reflected MMW signals that help determine the location of any potential anomalies on the body. In any case, an anomaly is detected; the location of such an anomaly is indicated by a bounding box on a generic human image. The system identification of an anomaly requires an operator to step in and resolve the alarm with a pat-down. Karoly (2017) indicates that the system takes less than six seconds of processing time from the period when it begins to scan to the point of decision making. The report by Hättenschwiler et al. (2018) anticipated a future situation where AIT will continue playing a key role in passenger screening.

It is possible that the security can be enhanced without replacing an entire machine because of the adaptable algorithms that ensure there is flexibility. The authors also hold the possible enhancement of image resolution in the next AIT generation by utilizing wideband antennas, which assist the advancement of automated threat recognition detection algorithms (Gillen and Morrison 2018: 7). TSA has continued to focus on 3-D reconstruction algorithms to help in addressing the threats concealed in obscure locations of the body.

Advanced Technology X-ray (AT-2)

AT-2 provides an extension in the sense that the technology is applied in the screening of all personal items before boarding an aircraft, including all checked and carry-on bags. Karoly (2017) describes AT-2 as primarily known as the system used to screen carry-on items. The systems contained in AT-2 are equipped with multiple X-ray sources that are fixed and which release the electromagnetic radiation penetrating through the carry-on items in the tunnel. The photons then reduce the intensity through attenuation, including the absorption, scattering, and refraction that are measured by the detectors on the opposite side of the tunnel (Singh and Singh 2017: 34). The specific threat objects are then identified with reliance on a trained library measuring attenuation for the objects that are considered a threat. The description of ATs by Singh and Singh (2017) shows that they have dual-energy systems to allow the system to take measurements at high and low energy levels hence able to characterize those atomic numbers of the objects that are considered effective in the carry-on items. The system works in such a way that it makes threat objects appear in a certain color for easier identification.

Explosives Trace Detection

Explosives Trace Detection (ETD) machines are used to perform secondary screening that helps in better differentiation of benign substances and threats. Hansman (2018) indicates that this is possible, especially when Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) detects nanograms of explosive particles. The use of this technique allows the separation and identification of ionized molecules that are based on their mobility in their Ion Mobility Spectrometry. The TSA officer collects samples using a swab when a bag or a person goes through secondary screening before the collected sample is inserted in a desorber. The sample is then able to release and convert the harvested explosive materials into a gas form following the heat application by the desorber. The explosive molecules are ionized when the gas stream passes through an energetic electron region. The presence of the explosive materials is determined after measuring the time required for the ionized molecules to traverse the chamber and reach a collector plate. The positive charging of particles exposes them to a collector plate which has the potential of negative electricity (Hansman 2018: 45). The negatively charged particles are exposed to a collector plate with an electric potential that is positively charged. The time taken for the particles to reach the collector is dependent on the molecular weight of the particle and mobility through the drift tube. The officers in charge use this information to determine whether the material being checked has any threat.

Explosives Detection System (EDS)

According to Hättenschwiler et al. (2018), TSA uses EDS to screen checked baggage. The technology involves computed tomography (CT) to screen checked baggage, especially when they have been dropped at the check-in counter before being loaded in the plane. The CT machines apply multiple X-rays images to produce cross-sectional tomographic images of the inside of the bag. Like AT, the X-ray sources are used by CT machines, but they differ because the CT’s X-ray sources tend to rotate around the object across from the sensors. After the imaging of the entire object using the X-ray, the CT reformats the data volume in different planes to an extent a 3-D representation of the object is produced in the tunnel X-ray. The data can then be used to measure the physical properties such as the atomic number and density of the contents of the bag and compared these identified properties to materials that are known to be an explosive threat. Modić et al. (2018) noted the exploration of using CT technology at the checkpoints for passengers not allowed to remove liquids or other luggage such as electronics from their carry-on bags.

Cabin Baggage Screening

The availability of cabin baggage screening has existed for the last few years helping in the explosive detection systems. Hättenschwiler et al. (2018) noted that the United States is among the few countries that use these systems involving cabin baggage screening. However, European countries, in addition to other continents, have not widely implemented these systems, as indicated by Gnatyuk et al. (2019). Visual inspection and conventional cabin baggage screening were identified as the technology used to prevent terrorist attacks and other acts of unlawful interference, including the protection of passengers and their belongings. Hättenschwiler et al. (2018) indicated that before passengers enter with their belongings in the secure airports’ areas and board airplanes, they have to be screened.

Visual screening involves inspection of X-ray images of cabin baggage for prohibited items, including knives, guns, and explosive devices that are improvised. This also includes the self-defense gas sprays or Tasers, and the involved inspection is considered for the use of visual search and decision making. However, Gillen and Morrison (2018) have found challenges that come with the performance of visual search in X-ray baggage screening, such as the limited target prevalence, the search for the target set that remains unknown, the target visibility variation, and the possible presence of multiple targets. Barnett (2017) examined what happens during the cabin baggage screening, especially in the decision on whether or not a bag contains an item that is considered to be prohibited and appears as an X-ray image.

However, Hättenschwiler et al. (2018) has found novices can be able to recognize certain shapes such as guns and knives in X-ray images; it is difficult to recognize some other prohibited items such as IEDs without one having to train first. The wires usually connect a detonator power source and explosive that follows a triggering device composed in an IED. Tuchen et al. (2020) found that the screeners can learn the recognition of these components through computer-based training and are able to achieve and maintain a high detection performance for IEDs. Bare explosives also tend to pose a threat in cabin baggage screening, considering the possible combination with other components after passing the security checkpoint in an airport. Darabseh et al. (2020) found a potential challenge in the detection of bare explosives even if the screeners are well-trained since, in many cases, they resemble a harmless organic mass. Hättenschwiler et al. (2018) identified a gap in expressing the ability of screeners to detect bare explosives and the possibility of automation to increase human-machine system performance.

Knol et al. (2019) recognized automation and human-machine system performance as the key to facilitating security in airports. According to Hättenschwiler et al. (2018), when automation is conducted, functions are performed by machines that replace or assist in the performance of those that are done by a human. Diagnostic aid is considered a significant form of automation that allows the provision of support in alerts or alarms, which then influence attention allocation. The examples include the systems which can indicate objects that are potentially threatening in the images of X-ray of passenger baggage.

Tuchen et al. (2020) considered automation and explosive detection systems for cabin baggage screening (EDSCB) to play a significant role, especially since it elaborates on human-machine function allocation and tends to provide on-screen alarm resolution. This is because the screeners can inspect every piece of cabin baggage visually. EDSCB has the ability to indicate potential explosive materials during the inspection provided an area on the X-ray image of a passenger bag is marked with a colored rectangle or being highlighted in a special color. It is then the decision of the screeners to resolve this during the visual inspection of the X-ray image and deciding on whether the areas identified by the machine are harmless or have the potential of being an explosive material. This then requires that the baggage is subjected further to a secondary inspection.

The procedure is common at the airport, according to Khan et al. (2020), during the security checkpoint activities, when trace-detecting any explosives and opening the bag to allow the manual search (Smith and Brooks 2018: 13). The screeners clear most of the EDSCB alarms in operation, which leaves only a small bags’ percentage on which an EDSCB alarm has been raised so that the second inspection is conducted. Those airports that are already using EDSCB, on-screen alarm resolution (OSAR) have already been employed even though they are not effective considering the inability of the screeners to distinguish explosive material from benign material. This results in the possibility of the screeners mistakenly clearing bags with explosives, which then drastically reduces how effective EDSCB is when used in the scenario of OSAR.

In the scenario of an automated decision, a higher level of automation is used with a different allocation of human-machine functions. When an alarm is raised by EDSCB on some bags, they are automatically sent to secondary inspection that involves the use of manual search and trace detection of the explosives. However, the false alarm rates of EDSCB that are between 15% and 20% are not acceptable in this scenario because the secondary inspection is considered time-consuming (Wallis 2017: 76). Thus, in general, the ability of the screeners to clear alarms by the EDSCB and being able to detect explosives that are missed by EDSCB forms the basis of the effectiveness of OSAR and the scenario of the automated decision.

Other Technologies that are currently used in Airport Security

Literature has identified more security technologies currently in use in various airports worldwide could be classified in the groups of scanners, cameras, and emotion analysis technology. Luggage scanners are utilized to detect various materials based on their density. They can differentiate plastic and paper from metal and glass. In addition, they can tell the difference in various powders, identifying talc from TNT and plasticine from C4 explosives (Mason and MacMahon 2019). They accomplish such by sending X-ray waves of different lengths through the baggage in order to identify different elements. The computer does most of the analysis, using wavelengths interchangeably to identify all objects of interest (Mason and MacMahon 2019). Human operators observe the results of the scan on screens and decide to allow luggage to pass or open it up for additional inspection.

The body scanners form another category of technologies that usually appear as either doorways or isolated boxes, through which the passenger has to walk through in order to show they carry no weapons or otherwise suspicious objects on their bodies (Mason and MacMahon 2019). The doorway scanners are typically radio wave-based and serve to detect metal objects on a person’s body, letting out a beeping noise whenever such is spotted. Isolated boxes typically use weak x-ray waves to detect the objects carried in a person’s pockets or worn on their bodies. These waves are too weak to see through an individual’s body, as such would require a medical-grade X-ray scanner, which is potentially dangerous both to the passenger, the operators, and those in close proximity (Mason and MacMahon 2019).

Cameras are considered the most standard of security measures present in every airport. Their purpose is to observe individuals after they enter the territory of the facility and ensure they do not prepare any illegal activities or commit criminal acts. While cameras do not directly prevent crimes from happening, they create an appearance of surveillance, preventing individuals from attempting infractions due to being seen (Karoly 2017: 8). Finally, cameras enable the security personnel to quickly locate areas of infractions and direct interventions, as well as recognize faces of known terrorists and criminals, had they somehow passed through the initial checkpoints. Emotion analysis technology is a type of novel technology that is currently being tested in high-risk countries, such as Israel. It utilizes advanced facial recognition programs in order to identify signs of aggression and ill intent in response to specific sets of visual and aural stimuli individuals are being exposed to in the scope of a security check (Knol et al. 2019). Some of the parameters analyzed by these programs include facial muscle activity, eye motions, changes in stature, heartbeat rate, and various others. Therefore, it is possible to see the state of current surveillance over the passengers. It is also considered quite complete, enabling airport security personnel to not only scan new entrants for potentially harmful substances but also potentially detect malicious intent either before or during the act.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Technology-Based Approach to Airport Security

The primary benefit to various scanners, cameras, and check-outs is that they significantly increase the requirements for insurgents to successfully conduct a terrorist operation (Skorupski and Uchroński 2018). Without scanners, a terrorist can easily bring a bomb onboard a plane and cause a detonation, resulting in a significant loss of life and broad political implications across the world. The explosion of such a device mid-air would ensure that virtually all passengers and crew members would perish either as a result of the explosion or the collision with the ground. The presence of redundant security measures forces terrorists to put significant efforts into infiltrating airports, either by putting a greater degree of engineering into their IEDs or significantly reduce their sizes, thus reducing the explosive potential of such (Skorupski and Uchroński 2018). Not all insurgent groups possess such acumen in preparation, training, and execution, effectively leaving the method only to well-equipped and funded terrorist groups.

The second benefit is the prevention of conventional weapons from being brought on board. Without weapons, it was made possible for flight personnel to apprehend hijackers by overrunning and overpowering them. Such measures significantly reduced the number of hijacking attempts ever since 2001 (Skorupski and Uchroński 2018). The only successful or semi-successful attempts in doing so have been committed under the pretense by the assailant to be in possession of a bomb, such as the hijacking of Turkish Airlines Flight 1476 in 2006 and EgyptAir flight MS181 in 2016 (Skorupski and Uchroński 2018). In both cases, there were no bombs, and the assailants surrendered to the authorities shortly after landing.

The weaknesses of the existing technology stem from the fact that there are many loopholes that could be used by potential terrorists to get around them. At the same time, the belief in their infallibility lulls the security forces into a sense of complacency and false security (Skorupski and Uchroński 2018). It allows well-prepared criminals to pass through detectors without any problems, increasing their chances of success past a certain point. As demonstrated by the failed IED bombing in Saudi Arabia, which featured printer cartridges being converted into bombs, it is possible to target not only the passenger quarters but also the cargo hold, which undergoes much fewer security measures. In addition, it is possible for terrorists to utilize organic bombs, sowing explosives into their bodies or carrying them in stomachs, where they would be undetected by traditional means of technological surveillance. Emotion-analysis technology is in its testing stages, and it is not infallible. It may confuse general discontent or anger for malicious intent, resulting in numerous false alarms that could potentially paralyze airports for hours and breed panic and suspicion.

Impact of Technology on the Airports Security Staff

Prior research has indicated that airports are the potential areas that attract dangers leading to security technology development, including the use of simple and high-tech security systems. Ates and Muratoglu (2019: 238) investigated how these changes in technology impact the security staff that works within the airports. Pfleeger et al. (2018: 491) argued that examining these effects entails evaluation of how the security personnel in the airports approach the use of technology when delivering their services. The effects were categorized as psychological, social, economic, and physical. According to Ates and Muratoglu (2019: 238), technology change significantly affects the employees’ behaviors, attitudes, and spiritual structure hence psychologically influencing. Since these changes occur as psychological effects on the workers, they tend to experience stress, fatigue, and monotony and develop anxiety. Security teams tend to develop the feeling of boredom and monotony considering that they have to do repetitive work such as screening where they do not rest, move, and are subject to routine noise. Ates and Muratoglu (2019: 239) also identified stress and concern as the staff tries to respond to adaptability. With the new technology, rapid changes tend to occur in the business environment, something which quickly outmoded the skills of the employees.

Significant effects occur in the social setup of the airport staff when subjected to changes in technology to limit security threats. Ates and Muratoglu (2019: 239) identified these effects in relation to the inadequacy, alienation, and the need for education. Al-Saad et al. (2019: 128) argued that working or staying within the aviation area comes with a lot of frustrations and burnout, considering the danger involved. In many cases, the inadequacy of human skills and knowledge of technology results in inefficiency of work done and, in some cases, reluctance. The change in technologies had a major impact on the mood and morale of the employees and, therefore, if there is any way through which technology changes can have positive effects on airport security. Often, employees feel threatened with the new and increased technologies for fear of losing their jobs and being dismissed.

Data Management in Aviation Security

is based on the technical performance of aviation management. The researcher identifies the major challenges that face aviation when it comes to the safety and improvement of performance, including the inability to evade accidents and potential threats (Dou 2020: 2). For the purpose of improving technical performance, scientific aeronautical meteorological forecasts should be adopted with the intent of reducing the occurrence of aircraft accidents. In the context of the current study, these scientific forecasts are used to evade the threats to the security of airplanes. In order for the aviation forecasts to be conducted, Dou (2020: 2) highlights requirements which include airport forecasts and high-altitude forecasts that involve specialized forecasting agencies.

There is also a significant need for international aviation flights that relevant countries and institutions to exchange forecast information. This means that one of the important measures that help to improve the safety of aviation is the ability to predict and achieve unimpeded sharing of global forecast information accurately. Lykou et al. (2019: 19) held that the determination of aviation safety is equally determined by aviation management. However, recent years have seen an increase in the complexity and difficulty of aviation management because of the wide range of business areas and departments which tend to be involved in air traffic. Different countries in recent years, including the US, have had their aviation industries developed rapidly amidst the difficulty in the effective management of the aviation industry, which has increased.

Therefore, Dou (2020: 10) suggested that the advent of the big data era and intelligence as a way that can assist in solving the problem related to the attempt to improve the management of the aviation industry to enhance security. According to García-Gil et al. (2019), it is possible to provide adequate, multidimensional, and real-time information with the help of big data. The intelligence allows this information to be effectively translated into capability and knowledge and improve the predictive and preventive capabilities of the flight risks involved in aviation. Lykou et al. (2019: 19) agree that aircraft safety can be guaranteed after the creation of aviation big data and, therefore, a significant measure in ensuring all-around aviation security.

Nikolopoulos and Petropoulos (2018), on their part, perceive big data as an effective way of improving the technical performance and operation conditions of aircraft and reducing the threat of security to which aviation is subjected. Dou (2020: 10) observes that even though big data and related intelligence are unable to provide sufficient information for aviation operations, the most important thing is that it can help achieve the interconnection and interworking that ensures that aviation is secured. The conclusion of Lykou et al. (2019: 19) about big data in information technology is its ability to improve the predictive capabilities and preventive risk control capabilities within air transportation. Similarly, the ability of big data to create more effective predictive models is aimed at greatly improving aviation safety and performance.

Smart airport cybersecurity has been regarded by Lykou et al. (2019: 3) as best when used by aviation to mitigate threats that occur in the airport and ensure there is control of cyber resilience. From the argument presented by the author, airports and airlines have the shared responsibility of ensuring that smart airports are secured and that they stay ahead of cyber threats that tend to evolve. Janssen et al. (2019: 144) call for the prioritization to identify challenges of cyber threats and approaches and guidelines of risk assessment to enhance cybersecurity by the aviation industry. Therefore, the article researches the rate of cybersecurity measures implementations focusing on commercial airports, analysis of risk scenarios focusing on the Internet of Things and installed smart devices, and risk scenario analysis of IoT malicious attacks with mitigation actions and others. Aviation in the present day is highly dependent upon big data and smart technology. Without such, it becomes difficult to perform functions as may be determined from time to time.

Research Methodology

Introduction

The study investigated the use of technology in the aviation industry and how this technology impacts the security situation of airports and airlines. For the research objectives to be achieved, a methodology that is effective and rigorously designed to allow the far-reaching and accurate conclusion to be drawn. A research methodology explains how the data collection and analysis shall take place. Therefore, this is crucial for the collection, production, and analysis of data. This is an important section in any paper as it provides a perfect way of understanding what shall be discussed in the results and conclusions sections. Saunders et al. (2003) find it essential that the research design is divided into consecutive phases and the researchers define the tackling of these phases. Before answering the research questions, it is the researcher’s role to determine the approach to be used for each phase. The phases are depicted by way of proposing the research process union framework, which can be utilized to outline the key assumptions of the research philosophy that distinguishes between the inductive and deductive approaches. Without the methodology section, the paper lacks the reason for proceeding on continuing with the research process. This study involved both primary and secondary data collection.

Research Strategy

The study adopted a descriptive survey design because it aimed to collect information from respondents on the impact of technology on aviation security. This kind of research design is important in exploratory studies where researchers acquire information, analyze and interpret. Dulock (2018: 154) identified descriptive research design as a way of accurate and systematic description of the population, a phenomenon, or even a situation through answering questions that are related to when, where, what, and how.

When this design is used, a significant method of research is used in investigating various variables, and the researcher is not involved in the control or manipulation of any variables since their major focus is on observing and measuring the identified variables. Dulock (2018: 155) indicated survey research as one of the forms used in the descriptive research method since it allows the gathering of large data volumes to be analyzed from frequencies, averages, and patterns in order to gauge the opinion and evaluate any satisfaction with something being conducted.

Thus, for the purpose of this study, it involved the collection of both primary and secondary data depending on availability. Primary data was collected from respondents through filling in questionnaires that were available online. The collected data were then analyzed through the framework analysis method. Some of the sources of primary data were questionnaires filled by employees of airline companies, employees of civil aviation authorities, security personnel, passengers, and others. Some sources of secondary data include online data sources, annual reports, websites, and others.

Research Approach

I used a quantitative research approach to collect data considering that descriptive research mainly entails a quantitative process though the qualitative aspect is also given weight. Once adopted, the quantitative approach ensures that the collected data and the results are valid and reliable. A quantitative research approach involves the collection and analysis of non-numeric data such as images, audio, text, and video. Apuke (2017: 3) associated a quantitative approach to studies that are aimed at making the discovery of inferences or causal relationships like it was in the case of the current study. I distributed self-administered questionnaires to airline companies’ employees, employees of civil aviation authorities, security personnel, and passengers. However, in the analysis, this approach allows the quantitative information to be tabulated along a continuum in the numerical form, including the number of times a person would choose to use a certain feature.

Population

The population focused on in this study was the stakeholders within aviation, considering that these groups have come in contact with the activities of air transportation. The most suitable population includes employees of airline companies, employees of aviation authorities, security personnel, passengers, and others. According to Newmyer and Owen (2020: 12), there are close to 11.3 million people who directly work in the aviation industry. Often, these people are concerned with the security of the airports. The employees have different areas of work, and there are those mandated to do screening or scanning of the passengers and their luggage to ensure that no dangerous items find their way into the plane. The employees also are at the center of implementing the guidelines to reduce the causes of COVID-19 and have been subjected to technologies.

Therefore, they understand what the technology used entails and the need to use or not to use the same, especially in relation to security. The security personnel are the people who directly deal with matters of security in the aviation areas and thus were involved extensively in this study to find the essential responses needed for this study. The final population included the passengers considering that over 1.3 billion people travel through the use of airplanes from one place or country to another. The passengers also had an opportunity to tell their opinion and experience with aviation, the technology used, and the impact on security.

Sampling and Sample Size

The researchers Etikan and Bala (2017: 149) define a sample as a specific group of individuals that represent the population and are used to collect data. This means that any sample needs to reflect the population so as to allow the generalization of the findings collected from the research sample to the population as a whole. Sampling techniques are known for helping the researcher choose the right sample for the research. In this case, the sampling technique used was purposive sampling which is known for allowing the researcher to use their expertise in selecting the sample that is considered the most useful to the research purposes.

Purposive sampling was effective since the researcher needed to have a sample of people who have vast or some knowledge and information on the technologies and the effects on the security status of the aviation industry. Thus, the employees of airline companies, employees of aviation authorities, and security personnel were considered for this study because they have information that could help reach the conclusion of this study. For some pilot studies, Lykou et al. (2019, p 19) note that two to three cases are enough to give a conclusion. The current study was based on a sample of six participants that were considered enough to conclude how technology use affects the security status or change in the aviation areas.

Research Instruments

The research instrument used for this study was self-administered questionnaires. These forms of questionnaires, according to Jenkins and Dillman (2015: 13), are such that a respondent can respond to them even without the researcher intervening, or even when doing so, the intervention is very minimal during the data collection. The self-administered questionnaires were preferred for this study because of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic situation. Many governments, through the health departments, have issued guidelines encouraging people to limit the in-person meeting and instead called for meeting remotely through an internet connection. The questionnaire was crucial in the collection of primary data among the aviation industry stakeholders.

This instrument contained a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) with the intent of measuring the effects that the use of technology has on security within the aviation industry. The survey acquired quantitative data with a few questions encouraging prose answers where qualitative information was obtained. Therefore, considering that data was to be collected only, it was only fair that the questionnaire be self-administered since there was limited or even no human contact. The respondents needed an easier time to respond to the questions asked. The questionnaire was structured in such a way that it was designed to help collect quantitative data in relation to the specific data expected of the researcher about the technologies that the aviation industry uses and how these technologies impact the security of the airports. This means the questionnaire had various parts with the demographic information leading at the beginning to help identify the researcher, their occupations, and the extent of experiences with the aviation industry and the use of technology. The other parts defined important elements crucial to defining the impact that technology has on aviation.

While applying validity measures, the researcher intends to understand whether the items measure what they are made to measure. Pre-testing was performed to assist in finding out the accuracy, suitability, and clarity of the instrument of research. Content validity was analyzed to ensure the instruments answer all the research questions (Lykou et al. 2019: 19). The internal reliability was tested on Cronbach’s alpha and can be considered as reliable by a value of 0.7 or higher as indicated by Nunnally’s (1978). This is in line with many studies (Lee et al. 2013). Based on the analysis of the pretest results, I may make adjustments, corrections, and additions to some research instruments.

Data Collection and Sources

The research applied both primary and secondary data to reach its conclusion. Secondary data defines the already collected and stored data and can be accessed anytime or at the request of the owners or the publishers. Secondary data were collected from online data sources, annual reports, websites, and others. Government documents from the security agencies were equally important in providing information for the researcher. Reports from the airports and private individuals, including the documented experiences of the passengers, were equally important in determining this study.

The research, on the other hand, used primary data that is collected through a descriptive survey design. Open-ended questionnaires were administered to various respondents such as employees of airline companies, employees of aviation authorities, security personnel, passengers, and others. Because of the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, continuous calls have been made to end the spread; thus, the survey was significantly conducted online by sharing the questionnaires through the emails of the respective respondents while others could be accessed through social media platforms. Once answered, questionnaires were submitted back to the research for analysis via email and social media pages. The institution, however, requires that consent is first sought from the participants and their employer organization as a way of presenting the researcher as reputable, official, and trustworthy to the public. Therefore, consent was first sought from the relevant institutions and the participants before data were collected. Participants were made aware that the data collected was only for the purpose of the study and that it would be kept confidential.

Reliability of Research Instruments

The reliability of instruments was also considered critical. This refers to the dependability, consistency, or trustworthiness of a test. The research instrument applied here was self-administered questionnaires. This was done by using two different but equal forms of an instrument to the same group of people or research object during a similar period. Questions were pre tested before the actual study to find out their relevance to the study. The test items were divided into two items that were similar in content and difficulty, and the scores of the two halves will be scored separately.

The process of data analysis involved data clean up and explanation. It was then coded and checked for any errors and omissions. Frequency tables and percentages were used to present the findings. Responses in the questionnaires were tabulated, coded, and processed by use of framework analysis methods to analyze the data. The responses from the open-ended questions were listed to obtain proportions appropriately, and the response was then reported by descriptive narrative.

Data Analysis

Introduction

The data analysis chapter is a presentation of the findings of the study in which the researcher analyses and interprets the data collected from the respondents. The data analysis is in response to the objectives and the research questions of the study. Thus, the chapter aims to achieve the following objectives: a) to find out the influence of communication networks on aviation security in the US, b) to study the effect of big data on aviation security in the US, c) to investigate the influence of the internet on the security of the aviation sector in the US, and d) to establish the impact of handheld technology devices on aviation security. Data analysis involves the responses obtained in relation to the technologies used within the aviation industries and how these technologies have effectively ensured the security of air transportation. The analyzed and interpreted data is presented through tables, figures, and graphs.

Demographic Data

The data related to the demography of the respondents were analyzed in regard to their nature, age, gender, and years of experience in the aviation industry. The analyzed data was presented in tables showing the number of respondents per item and the frequency and percentage. The study involved 6 participants, all of whom responded to the questionnaires; hence the response rate was 100% considering that all the six participants answered and submitted the questionnaire.

Table 1: Gender of the Participants

Gender Frequency Percentage
Male 4 66.67
Female 2 33.33

Table 1 reveals that the participants were both male and female, with the representation of 66.67% and 33.33%, respectively. Thus, more men took part in the study compared to their female counterparts.

Table 2: Age Distribution of the Participants

Age brackets Frequency Percentage %
25- 40 years 1 16.67
41- 50 years 3 50.0
Above 51 years 2 33.33

From the age distribution table, most participants were aged between 41 and 50 years, with the representation of 50%, while 33.33% were participants above 51 years. Only 16.67% representing 1 participant was below 40 years but above 25 years.

Table 3: Professional distribution of the respondent’s

Description Frequency Percentage
Employees of airline companies 3 50.0
Employees of aviation authorities 2 33.33
Security personnel 1 16.67
Passengers 0 0
Others 0 0

Table 3 shows the professional distribution of the respondents where the majority, 50%, were the employees working for different airline companies, 33.33% were those employees working in aviation authorities, 16.67% composed of the security personnel, and none of the participants was a passenger. All six participants have vast experience with air transportation. However, of significance is the fact that these people have had an experience with the use of technology in conducting security activities and have encountered the provision of big data in managing the activities in the airports.

Table 4: Distribution of Seniority Periods of the Participants in the Profession

Periods Frequency Percentage %
1- 10 years 1 16.67
11-20 years 4 66.67
Above 21 years 2 33.33

Table 4 shows that the highest percentage, 66.67%, of the participants have been in the aviation industry for a period of between 11 and 20 years while 33.33% have experience of more than 21 years and only one person indicated to have less than ten years of experience in the aviation industry. Thus, the vast majority of the participants have information on the transformation experienced in the industry in relation to security and have a hint on how this has been impacted by the employment of technology.

Technological Predisposition

The question was asked to the participants, most of whom are the personnel working in the aviation industry and the security group, on what comes first in their minds when they come across the concept of technology. The years of experience in the industry until the modern period are enough evidence that they have come across the idea of technology. The latest study by Khan et al. (2020: 485) revealed that American Airlines was the pioneer when it comes to the use of computer reservation systems which began as early as the 1950s. American Airlines also installed its Semi-Automated Business Environment in 1963, which was then followed by other airlines that were the leading in the US and later developed computer reservation systems of their own. The findings are a reflection that, indeed, technological adoption in the aviation industry is an older concept and, therefore, the need for the researcher to inquire on how the users or those who have encountered it perceive it. The findings of the inquiry are indicated in Table 5 below:

Table 5: Respondents’ perspectives on the application of technology

Perspectives Frequency Percentage
Security 5 83.33%
Efficiency 1 16.67
Convenience and comfort 0 0
Innovation 0 0
Labor and saving 0 0
Problem-solving 0 0

Table 5 shows that when the employees and security personnel come across technology or apply it in aviation, they are first convinced that it aims at ensuring security within the areas of operation of air transportation. This perspective is represented by 83.33% of the participants who responded to the questionnaire. The higher responses supporting the security issues are explained by the recent increase of security threats that have continued to occur in the aviation industry and changes in the tactic used by terrorists and other attackers towards passengers and the operations of air transportation. This idea has been put into perspective in the introduction, including during the 1960s when over 130 hijackings were recorded, especially for commercial airline planes, more specifically the prolific incident of 1961 conducted by Antulio Ramirez Ortiz.

Thereafter, the series of attacks continued to be recorded in September 2011 and February and June 2016 when bombings were recorded in different parts of the world on aviation. It is the pattern of terrorist activities to shift from hijacking to taking passengers hostage, using weapons, constructing improvised explosive devices, and the use of places themselves as bombs that influenced the decision of the respondents to perceive security as the major aspect for the adoption of technology and application in the aviation industry. This is because the formation of TSA saw a lead in looking for a solution hence the use of technology, and the users have been made to believe that indeed technology is effective when used to keep areas of air transport secure.

Aviation Security Threats

An investigation was conducted to identify the most common threats that the aviation industry faces. The identification of the threats was based on the reports made by various agencies such as the National Strategy for Aviation Security of the United States. In its 2018 reports, this agency identified some of the common threats that the American airlines or aviation industry faces which include terrorists, hostile Nation-States, criminals, insiders, and foreign intelligence activities. The investigation was based on these elements to conduct research and discover the threats that the participants found common and those which the employees who work in the sector indicate as the most at risk. The results are reflected in figures 1 and 2 below.

The most common threats respondents have encountered
Figure 1: The most common threats respondents have encountered

From the figure, all the threats identified are indeed well-known to the participants. The figure shows that all 6 participants, including the employees of the airlines’ companies, security personnel, and employees within the aviation industry, agree that they have heard of terrorists being a threat to the security of aviation activities. About 83% of the respondents did agree with the aspect of criminal threats, which represents 5 respondents out of the total of 6 that were involved. The significantly larger percentage of respondents, up to 67% of those who were investigated, indicated that insiders were considered as the major threat to the security of the airports. Foreign intelligence activities and hostile nation-states each were considered as the commonest threats by half of the respondents represented by 50%. The results show that the terrorists made up the commonest threats to aviation, considering that all the six respondents have information about its existence and at one point experienced the same. However, in comparison to all the threats, the results are indicated in figure 2 below.

Risk threats to the aviation industry
Figure 2: Risk threats to the aviation industry

Figure 2 identifies terrorists as the riskiest threat to the aviation industry, and this explains the recent case of terrorist carrying attacks on the sector. The position of this group is supported in the literature that found over 130 hijackings to have been recorded for commercial airline planes, and over 200 attacks were recorded on assets of transportation worldwide in the 2016 period. A significantly large percentage of 16% identified criminals as being the dangerous and risk threat within the air transportation industry. The insiders were also considered a threat to the security in the airports since they can allow access to crucial places or give a password that can lead to unauthorized people accessing information that may be used to attack an airplane when onboard.

The rest of the threats, though documented in the reports, the respondents did not find to be more risky and dangerous as opposed to the terrorists and criminal groups. Similarly, a report by the National Strategy for Aviation Security of the United States admits terrorists as having demonstrated the capability and intent to harm the U.S and the interests of the country globally while being the most severe threat to aviation. They have been carried till in February 2016 and another 2016 attack on Ataturk Airport in Istanbul in June 2016. During the 2016 period, terrorist groups were able to carry out at least 200 attacks in various areas related to air transportation. Terrorism is considered a risk in aviation since it has become a challenge for TSA to contain these cases because terrorists are taking advantage of similar tactics, procedures, and techniques.

Objectives Achievement

To find out the influence of communication networks on aviation security in the US

The researcher conducted a study to establish how communication networks influenced security in aviation. This section of the investigation was based on the statements that the respondents were required to agree or disagree with based on the 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The results of the respondents are indicated in Table 6 below to be used to determine the extent to which technology affects the security of the aviation industry.

Table 6: The influence of communication networks on aviation security in the US

Items SD D U A SA
Cyber Connectivity within the Aviation Ecosystem facilitates airport systems, such as screening equipment, physical security, and passenger information display which has ensured increased security of aviation areas 0 0 0 4 (67%) 2 (33%)
Increasing Reliance on Radio Frequency (RF) Spectrum and Ability to Degrade Use is helpful to the aviation position finding/navigation and surveillance, which have been vital in facilitating secure areas in the airport areas and during the flight. 0 0 0 3 (50%) 3 (50%)
The use of Radio Frequency (RF) is a significant way to enhance physical security measures and technical measures to prevent jamming and spoofing, enable authentication and cybersecurity considerations. 0 0 1 (17%) 4 (67%) 1
The development of air traffic control (ATC) has made it easier to collect information about the aircraft’s position and intent and thus ensure
the safety of the airspace
0 0 0 5 (83%) 1 (17%)
It has been made easier for the airport authority to communicate with the pilots on board following the development of the Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) to enhance voice communications 0 0 0 4 (67%) 2 (33%)
It is possible for the Network hackers to probe for vulnerabilities in the network and launch a covert network attack at an appropriate time if the networks are not well-secured hence interfering with the security status of the aviation activities 0 0 1 (17%) 1 (17%) 4 (67%)
There is the need for ground communication security to be subjected to collaborative standards evolution to help address any potential distributed network attacks that may be launched from outside on the ground network hence keeping airports secure 0 1 (17%) 0 3 (50%) 2 (33%)
  • SA-Strongly Agree,
  • A-Agree,
  • U-Undecided,
  • D- Disagree,
  • SD-Strongly Disagree

The statements made in Table 6 above were in relation to the communication systems that are commonly adopted in the aviation industry. The decision to develop these systems is informed by the need to enhance the protection of aviation activities to ensure that the passengers and other operators within the industry are secure. From the results, the respondents tend to agree with the majority of the statements made, considering that they are in line with improving the process of communication in areas that are considered sensitive for the operations of the airports and the continuation of air transportation.

The majority, 67% of the respondents, agreed with the statement that cyber connectivity within the aviation ecosystem is a proper way to facilitate airport systems, such as screening equipment, physical security, and passenger information display which have ensured increased security of aviation areas. There were none of the respondents who disagreed with the statement. The decision of the respondents was informed by the current measures by the aviation industry, where it has been working towards enhancing efficiency through the increase of the network connectivity of the networks and operations. However, even with these steps, the vulnerabilities of the systems tend to be increased. Some of the services based on the network that are being delivered by aviation include broadband communications while connecting the aircraft systems, including the screening equipment, displays of passenger information, and control of the physical security that has since seen the security of the areas around the airports and even when the planes are aboard secure.

Similarly, Table 6 shows that among those who were involved in the study, the majorities which are represented by 50% in each case, agree and strongly agree with the application of radiofrequency. The respondents have found that increasing reliance on radio frequency (RF) spectrum and ability to degrade help the aviation position finding/navigation and surveillance, which have been vital in facilitating secure areas in the airport areas and during the flight. The infrastructure in aviation is dependent on a broad range spectrum availability that is used for communications, surveillance, and position finding or navigation in various areas. The air navigation systems tend to be moving towards space-based technologies that include communication systems, with radiofrequency being among the common components. Its application has been fundamental in enabling authentication and preventing jamming and ensures that cybersecurity is considered.

From the table, though 17% of the respondents remained neutral or undecided, the remaining group agreed that the use of Radio Frequency (RF) is a significant way to enhance physical security measures and technical measures to prevent jamming and spoofing, enable authentication, and cybersecurity considerations. The position has been expressed in the previous statement as this is majorly associated with the shift towards space-based technologies. The significant majority of 83% and 17% agree and strongly agree respectively that it has been made easier to collect information about the aircraft’s position and intent because of the development of air traffic control (ATC) hence ensuring the safety of the airspace. ATC has been considered as the protocol that enables the communication between the pilots and the controllers of the aircraft to help establish the position which the aircraft holds as well as the intent to ensure that the airspace is safe.

Other findings of the table show that all the respondents, 67% and 33%, agreed or strongly agreed that it had been made easier for the airport authority to communicate with the pilots on board following the development of the Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) to enhance voice communications. On the idea of network hacking and attack, about 84% tend to agree that the network hackers can probe for vulnerabilities in the network and launch a covert network attack at an appropriate time if the networks are not well-secured hence interfering with the security status of the aviation activities. Finally, only 17% disagreed that there is the need for ground communication security to be subjected to collaborative standards evolution to help address any potential distributed network attacks that may be launched from outside on the ground network hence keeping airports secure. The remaining more than 83% tend to agree with this statement in line with the change that is happening within the communication area of aviation which has seen significant improvements towards security enhancement.

To study the effect of big data on aviation security in the US

previous studies had established the use of big data in the management of operations and for technical performance within the aviation industry. This resulted in the research finding out from the respondents about the use of big data in air transportation and how it is linked to security issues. The results are presented in Table 7 below.

Table 7: Effect of big data on the aviation security in the US

Items SD D U A SA
The use of data from embedded systems is leading to a shift from a corrective approach to a predictive approach to carrier maintenance which assures the passengers their security even when aboard the plane 0 0 0 2 (33%) 4 (67%)
The ability to use big data collected allows the prediction of the possible threats considering that signs of such incidents will be earlier obtained by the security personal and aviation authorities 0 0 0 4 (67%) 2 (33%)
The air traffic management and control conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration aims to use data to ensure the fluidity of traffic in the sky hence reducing the chances of passenger planes overstaying in the sky for any possible attack by terrorists or criminals 0 1 (17%) 1 (17%) 3 (50%) 1(17%)
The acquisition of Vormetric and Guavus combined with advanced technologies ensure that there is a reliable and effective protection against cyberattacks and other hacking of information systems within the aviation and airlines companies that may subject passengers to the possible security breach 0 0 0 4 (67%) 2 (33%)
Technological experts have found the big data being developed in the aviation industry as a possible avenue for sharing of threats such as weakening of information systems and exposure of sensitive data, which puts the people within the industry at the risk of being targets 0 2 (33) 0 3 (50%) 1 (17%)
By capturing flight incident data, regulators can improve safety across the aviation industry from the moment the passengers aboard the flight until when they alight 0 0 1 (17%) 3(50%) 2 (33%)
The Data Safety program supports big data analytics and computational power to allow regulators to determine safety risks and advise stakeholders with the aim to strengthen weak links in the aviation chain. 0 0 0 3 (50%) 3 (50%)
Pilots and ATC teams can use big data to direct planes on routes with no turbulence zones or storms, making the flight itself more comfortable and safe. 0 0 0 3 (50%) 2 (33%)
  • SA-Strongly Agree,
  • A-Agree,
  • U-Undecided,
  • D- Disagree,
  • SD-Strongly Disagree

From Table 7, the majority of the respondents agreed with the statements made on the impact that big data has on the security of the aviation industry. Leveraging insights into the big data and use within the aviation industry is significant for the companies in need and helps them to achieve security. From the table, 33% and 67% agreed and strongly agreed respectively with the statement that using data from embedded systems has led to a shift from a corrective approach to a predictive approach when it comes to carrier maintenance that has assured the passengers of their security during the air transportation. The predictive advantage attached to the big data is significant, especially when it comes to predetermining the future occurrences in the operations of the flights, which include security. Similarly, all the respondents up to the representation of 100% agree and strongly agree with the issue of using the big data collected to predict any possible threats considering that signs of such incidents will be earlier obtained by the security personnel and aviation authorities.

Any idea was interrogated in relation to the Federal Aviation Administration conducting the air traffic management and control using data to ensure the fluidity of traffic in the sky, which is linked to the reduction of the chances of passenger planes overstaying in the sky for any possible attack by terrorists or criminals. A significantly large number agreed with this assertion where 50% agreed, 17% strongly agreed, while there was an equally large 17% that disagreed with this idea. The negative response towards this issue is based on the belief that traffic management is often associated with navigating plans through hostile weather and when there is a limited flow due to traffic jams in the sky. However, traffic interference provides an opportunity for possible attacks or hijacking of airplanes by organized groups such as terrorists.

When it comes to the aspect of cybersecurity, there was a general agreement of 67% and a strong agreement of 33% of respondents. Those who agreed found the statement that acquiring Vormetric and Guavus combined with advanced technologies facilitates reliable and effective protection against cyberattacks and hacking of information systems within the aviation and airline companies that may subject passengers to a possible security breach. The findings align with the recent increased cases of improvised attacks conducted by terrorists on flights where they use advanced technologies to get information about the airplanes and the passengers onboard. This, therefore, requires that the cyber information stored within the aviation industry be protected such that access is limited significantly.

A significant percentage of 50% agreed while another 17% strongly agreed with the experts’ findings that the development of big data in the aviation industry allows the sharing of threats such as weakening of information systems and exposure of sensitive data, which puts the people within the industry at the risk of being targeted by hijackers. This statement was, however, refuted by 33% of the respondents. There was an equal agreement and strong agreement by 50% for each category by respondents on the fact that the Data Safety program supports big data analytics and computational power allowing regulators to determine safety risks and advise stakeholders with the aims to strengthen weak links in the aviation chain. Pilots and ATC teams who use big data are able to direct planes on routes with limited dangers making the flight safe.

To investigate the influence of the internet on the security of the aviation sector in the US

From the study by McNamara and Reicher (2019: 2258), the new era of the internet has complicated security management within the aviation sector. The attackers have devised a complex and advanced way to target airplanes and passengers because of the internet’s emergence. However, the authorities in aviation and the security personnel could use the same internet to boost the security status in air transportation. As a result of the existence and increase of this problem, the current paper wanted to establish how the internet could affect security when introduced within the sector. The results of the responses are indicated in Table 8 below:

Table 8: Influence of the internet on the security of the aviation sector in the US

Items SD D U A SA
The Internet of Things (IoT) and installed smart devices are key in creating security awareness, facilitating the internet connectivity risk, and ensuring security confidence among the users. 0 0 0 3 (50%) 3 (50%)
The adoption of smart airports applications such as passenger check-in and boarding services within the aviation facilities to underpin key airport activities has made significant steps towards enhancing the security of airport areas. 0 0 1 (17%) 4 (67%) 1 (17%)
Airlines companies need to make connections with other transport systems in order to identify areas of security lapse to take appropriate actions 0 0 1 (17%) 3 (50%) 2(33%)
Passenger check-in, common-use passenger services, and traveler web services need to be adopted within the airports to help assess and separate attackers from the passengers before airplanes set off to ensure that people on board are secure. 0 0 0 4 (67%) 2 (33%)
The implementation of technical-based practices in airports such as firewalls and network segmentation and software and hardware updates should be prioritized to ensure that security protocols are not broken during the operations. 0 0 2 (33%) 3 (50%) 1 (17%)
The adoption of basic security awareness training to all information system users within the airports is critical in making it easier to identify the potential attackers that risk the security of the passengers 0 0 0 3(50%) 3 (50%)
It is the obligation of the airport and aviation authorities to ensure that the security personnel receive specialized IT training to make it easier to use the internet to identify risk areas that could be used by attackers 0 0 0 4 (67%) 2 (33%)
All the external providers of the internet should comply with the IT security requirements and ensure there is continuous monitoring to ensure unauthorized access to the system that stores aviation information is denied 0 0 0 3 (50%) 2 (33%)
  • SA-Strongly Agree,
  • A-Agree,
  • U-Undecided,
  • D- Disagree,
  • SD-Strongly Disagree

From the table above, the significant number of the respondents represented by 50% agreed that when the Internet of Things (IoT) and installed smart devices are used in creating security awareness, facilitating the internet connectivity risk, and ensuring security confidence among the users. This statement was strongly agreed upon by another 50% of the employees of airline companies and the aviation authority. This is because the IoT allows the digital machines and computing devices within the airports to be interrelated such that they are able to work in unity as a single system.

Similarly, 67% agreed, and another 17% strongly agreed that when smart airports applications such as passenger check-in and boarding services are adopted and used within the aviation facilities to help run the airport activities, it is considered significant towards enhancing the security of airport areas since the applications make the process of assessment easier for the employees and the security people. The highest percentage, 50%, agreed that there is a need for the airlines companies to make connections with other transport systems in order to identify areas of security lapse to take appropriate actions. This statement was also supported by 33% of the respondents, but only 17% of those who were investigated remained neutral about the issues.

Other statements that were supported by the respondents were related to the need to implement smart applications, including passenger check-in, common-use passenger services, and traveler web services within the airports to help assess and separate attackers from the passengers. About 67% indicated the need to have firewalls and network segmentation, and software and hardware updates. The information system users require the knowledge and skills to handle any security breach aspects, which can be realized through training on the IT security aspects. The training equips all users with the appropriate skills in the internet sector and how to best link security practices.

To establish the impact of handheld technology devices on aviation security

Handheld technology devices are the common items that are used in the aviation industry to ensure the security of the areas. Thus, there was a need on the part of the researcher to establish how these devices, when used, could enhance security. The results are indicated in Table 9.

Table 9: Impact of handheld technology devices on aviation security

Items SD D U A SA
It is easier to detect metallic threats and beyond with the use of Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) to ensure the presence within the airport is secure. 0 0 0 4 (67%) 2 (33%)
Advanced Technology X-ray (AT-2) is applied as an advanced device in the screening of all personal items before boarding an aircraft, including all checked and carry on bags to enhance the security 0 0 0 2 (33%) 4 (67%)
When Explosives Trace Detection (ETD) machines are used, they offer thorough screening that helps in better differentiation of benign substances, and threats hence provide enhance security check 0 0 1 (17%) 4 (67%) 1 (17%)
At an advanced level, Explosives Detection System (EDS) helps to screen checked baggage that has dropped at the check-in counter before being loaded in the plane ensure that everything on board is safer for transportation 0 0 0 4 (67%) 2 (33%)
Cabin Baggage Screening is a critical technology used to prevent terrorist attacks and other acts of unlawful interference, including the protection of passengers and their belongings 0 0 1 (17%) 4 (67%) 1 (17%)
It is easier to detect materials of different densities, including differentiating between plastic and paper from metal and glass, with the help of luggage scanners 0 0 0 3(50%) 3 (50%)
Authorities should allow cameras to be placed at all parts of the airport as a way to monitor and reports any strange activities that negatively affected the security of the occupants, including the passengers and the employees 0 0 0 4 (67%) 2 (33%)

From the table, 67% of the respondents indicated that they agree with the statement that it is easier to detect metallic threats and beyond with the use of Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) to ensure the presence of passengers and operations within the airport is secure. The statement was also supported by 33% of the participants. Another significant percentage of 33% and 67% agreed and strongly agree that when Advanced Technology X-ray (AT-2) is applied in the screening of all personal items, it enhances the security of the areas within the airports and ensures that all items loaded on board do not pose any threat to the security. These large response rates were also in support of the application of Explosives Trace Detection (ETD), Explosives Detection System (EDS), Cabin Baggage Screening, and luggage scanners machines in screening that helps in better differentiation of benign substances and threats hence providing enhance security check.

Correlation between Technology and Security in the Aviation Industry

After the data collection based on the responses of the participants, who included the employees of the airline companies, the aviation industry, and the security personnel, an analysis was done to determine how the use of technology correlates with the aviation industry. The correlation was achieved by breaking down the variables for the study topic, which included technology (independent) and aviation security (dependent). The technology was defined by communication networks, big data, the internet, and handheld technology devices. The results of the correlation are presented in Table 10 below.

Table 10: Correlation between Technology and Security in Aviation Industry

Communication networks Big data Internet Handheld technology Aviation security
Communication networks 1
Big data 0.243 1
Internet 0.279 0.331 1
Handheld technology devices 0.312 0.283 0.374 1
Aviation security 0.431 0.493 0.536 0.6721 1

From the table, the technological variables show a positive and significant correlation towards the security of aviation. The correlation between communication networks and aviation security (0.431, sig=.001<.05) is positive though it is not significant. The same case applies to the correlation that is there between big data and aviation security (0.493, sig=.001<.05), which also shows that the two variables positively relate to each other. When it comes to the internet and aviation security (0.536, sig=.001<.05), their correlation is both positive and significant at the same time. Finally, handheld technology devices and aviation security are positively and significantly correlated. The interpretation of these findings shows that the aspects of technology which include communication networks, big data, the internet, and handheld technology devices, have the impact of enhancing security in the aviation areas. Though their rates of influence differ, it is evident that when employed in aviation, there is the likelihood that the security level will be enhanced.

Regression Analysis of the Effects of Technology on Aviation Security

The study also sought to determine the magnitude of the effect of technology on aviation security. The regression analysis results are as follows.

Table 11: Regression Analysis

Variables B Beta t value p value
Constant 8.412 2.421 .000
Communication networks 0.376 0.324 2.743 .000
Big data 0.673 0.401 3.567 .000
Internet 0.534 0.391 3.101 .000
Handheld technology devices 0.732 0.537 4.584 .000
Aviation security 0.797 0.679 6.021 .000

Table 12: Regression Summary

R R Square Adjusted R Square Sig
.413a .697 .163 .000
  1. Predictors include communication networks, big data, the internet, and the handheld technology devices
  2. Dependent variable: Aviation security

The results show how technology influences security in aviation. From the analysis, up to 69.7% (R2=.697) variation in aviation security is explained by the implementation of changes in technology that are adopted within the aviation industry that are described by communication networks, big data, the internet, and handheld technology devices. Thus, the remaining factors that have not been captured or considered in this study account for the remaining 30.3% of the security experienced in the aviation industry. The results align with the study of Skorupski and Uchroński (2018) that associated the improvement in the security in air transportation with new technologies such as the employment of explosive detection systems for cabin baggage screening.

Similarly, other contemporary security measures that have been identified include a variety of scans and checks, such as X-ray scanning of belongings, pat-downs, and behavioral analysis methods. Skorupski and Uchroński (2018) identified some of the novel approaches that are currently being tested, which include facial scans seeking to find signs of hostile intent in people. Thus, the current study is advocating for the use of technologies considering that they provide an opportunity to enhance security in airports.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Conclusion

The study examined the adoption and implementation of technology in the aviation industry and how this affects security in the industry. The focus of the people was to achieve; thus, the chapter aims to achieve the following objectives, including a) to find out the influence of communication networks on aviation security in the US, b) to study the effect of big data on the aviation security in the US, c) to investigate the influence of the internet on the security of the aviation sector in the US, and d) to establish the impact of handheld technology devices on aviation security. The purpose of this research is informed by the threats that the aviation industry continues to experience since the 1960s, when over 130 hijackings were recorded, especially for commercial airline planes. Later, there were shifts in the pattern of terrorist activities from hijackings towards taking passengers hostage, using weapons, construction of improvised explosive devices, and the use of places themselves as bombs.

Recent years have also recorded significant and some of the most destructive incidents of security threats, including that of the 9th of September, 2001when terrorists under Al-Qaeda attacked the Twin Towers. In October 2015, Metrojet Flight 9268 was destroyed by ISIL and later an al Shabaab attack on Daallo Airlines Flight 159A. The widely known attack was that of the September 11, 2011 tragedy and, later, a February 2016 attack on Ataturk Airport in Istanbul in June 2016. For the period of 2016 alone, over 200 attacks were carried out on assets of transportation worldwide.

The many attacks on aviation attracted the action to be taken towards limiting these incidents. This involved the assessment of transportation threats, enforcement of regulations and requirements related to security, and ensuring that there is the adequacy of security measures at airports and other facilities of transportation. Thus, commercial aviation was secured and enhanced the protection of the traveling public from threats which include hijacking, weapons, and explosive smuggling on board. However, even as these measures were taken, the recent cases have seen more destruction in the softer targets of the public area of airports. These changes indicated that the attackers are advancing in the tactics they use as they become more creative. Today, it has become easier for terrorists to broadcast their intentions on social media platforms and tend to manipulate communications and media to inspire attacks. It is based on these new scenarios that aviation authorities, airline companies, and government agencies, including the TSA, have invested in the development of new security technology.

Security technology has seen the employment of explosive detection systems for cabin baggage screening and more so making security a very significant factor. The contemporary security measures have included scans and checks such as X-ray scanning of belongings, pat-downs, and behavioral analysis methods. The currently used processes have captured facial scans seeking to find signs of hostile intent in people. Airlines continue to adopt proper information and communication technology systems to enhance efficiency in operations. The use of technology ensures the coordination of services in the airport between airlines, pilots, and ground staff, among others.

Big data is a concept that has emerged recently to assist in innovating smart technologies that are important in keeping airports and airlines secure through data science. The internet plays a very important role in the aviation security sector in the US, considering it can help explore the weak points in the aviation sector and use technology to curb any threats to the sector. Handheld devices such as metal detectors, handheld scanners, radio calls, and others play a role in aviation security and are key in assuring the security of aviation areas and safety, considering that human skills tend to lose value.

Significant technologies adopted by the aviation industry were considered key in this study. They include Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), Advanced Technology X-ray (AT-2), Explosives Trace Detection, Explosives Detection System (EDS), Cabin Baggage Screening, Luggage scanners, body scanners, and Cameras. These technologies differ, and that explains their ability to function differently. The scanners, cameras, and check-outs ensure that there is the prevention of conventional weapons from being brought on board. Though, these technologies pose a danger such that they can be used by potential terrorists to get around them.

The study adopted a descriptive survey design considering that it aimed at collecting information from respondents on the impact of technology on aviation security. The strategy was adopted since the study was to investigate various variables without control or manipulation of any variables with a focus on measuring the identified variables. The quantitative research approach was also considered in the collection of data and analysis of numeric data such as images. The most preferred population for this study included employees of airline companies, employees of aviation authorities, security personnel, passengers, and others. For the sample and sampling, the suitable technique used was purposive sampling that is known for allowing the researcher to use their expertise and, in this case, the use of technologies and security. The current study was based on a sample of six participants that were administered with self-administered questionnaires.

Both primary and secondary data were used by the researcher to reach its conclusion. Secondary data sources included were collected from online data sources, annual reports, websites, and others. The correlation relationship shows that technology and aviation security are positively and significantly related. The regression analysis reveals that 69.7% (R2=.697) variation in aviation security is explained by the implementation of changes in technology that are adopted within the aviation industry that are described by communication networks, big data, the internet, and handheld technology devices. Thus, the remaining 30.3% of the security experienced in the aviation industry is influenced by other factors not considered in this study.

Recommendations

The study depicted multiple limitations that need to be corrected in the future. For instance, the current research employed a self-administered questionnaire, and since the self-reported cross-sectional survey was used, it could be hypothetically vulnerable to standard method variance. Thus, there is the need for a longitudinal dataset to be obtained from the third-party measures and be implemented. Similarly, even with the application of biometrics almost across the spectrum of the boarding process that is undertaken at the airports to enhance the efficiency for sustainable management, the focus of this study was majorly on the security procedure. However, there is another significant use of biometric technologies such that they could mitigate laborious tasks to present the identification documents and flight tickets at the scenes of the airport in a similar manner as the security checkpoint.

Therefore, more research is required on how biometric technologies are implemented within the entire airport to facilitate the contribution of acquiring a more sustainable management flow of the airport by maximizing the efficiency of aviation security and operations altogether. There is the need for studies in the future to obtain the data for non-cross sectional samples in order to try and expand the scope of the domains that are compatible with the applications of biometric in airports. Similarly, the future focus of increasing security and privacy requires raising awareness of the aviation system and cybersecurity among the governments and aviation circles as a way to attract a collective approach towards ensuring that airports and their users are secure. Additionally, an appeal is made that regulations are adopted, especially those that subscribe to the top-down approach to put knowledge on the need to maintain the security of the areas around aviation. Some considerations should be given to deploying the attack detection solutions rather than paying much attention to the threats. Defense strategies are equally important without modifying the existing infrastructure and protocols.

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