Terrorism as a Threat to American Airport Security

Airport Operator Security Responsibilities

Airports are inherently complex organizations. Airlines would not be prepared to fly if their aircraft’s security was decided by someone other than their own company; airlines must always be responsible for the security of their aircraft and for the cargo or luggage that goes into them. Security is a shared responsibility, both at the U.S. and foreign airports. FAA sets the security requirements, inspects both air carriers and airport operators for compliance with the requirements, and proposes civil penalties for compliance. Implementation of this split responsibility results in a lack of clear accountability for security. For instance, when a passenger arrives at an airport, the first security encountered is the airport operator’s responsibility. Inside the terminal, the passenger encounters the next ring of security, namely the passenger screening and X-raying of passengers and their carry-on items- the air carriers’ responsibility. Once the passenger has passed through the screening checkpoint, responsibility for security reverts to the airport operator (Government Accountability Office, 2006). When the passenger enters the aircraft, the air carrier assumes responsibility for security again.

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An airport operator has to control access by passengers and staff to restricted areas. Therefore his responsibility is extended to allowing access to restricted areas, whether by passengers with hand baggage or staff. The dealing of securing a viable airport is, preferably, the collective responsibility of the airport operator and the TSA. Since September 11, the boundaries for running security among various regulators have become more and more indistinct. The TSA is undoubtedly responsible for screening. This is done by the use of explosive detection systems that can identify any fiery matter that might be crammed together with the luggage (Government Accountability Office, 2006). The accountability for all other facets of airport security is the duty of airport operators.

Whereas airport operators (not TSA) keep hold of direct day to day set tasks, ATSA directs TSA to look up the security of airport perimeters and the access controls (Government Accountability Office, 2007). Each (airport’s) security program marks out the security guidelines, dealings, and structures the airport intends to use to fulfill (TSA) security requirements. Some of the responsibilities of airport operators are:

  • Appointing an airport security coordinator (ASC)
  • Managing access control to guard the security areas of the airport
  • Accessing or recognizing the system and the credentialing required for aviation employees (Government Accountability Office, 2007)
  • Developing the Airport Security Program.

Essentially, airport operator security centers on defending the airfield and aircraft by restricting public aviation employees’ entrance while still allowing those passengers and employees to move through the flair adeptly. Although it is TSA’s work to provide regulatory control over airport security practices, it is the airport operators who must build up and practice permitted security practices. The federal security director provides direction on systems, methods, and procedures by which the airport operators may comply with the regulations and security directives. The airport operator conducts real hands-on security functions, such as access to the airfield, administration of the computerized access control system, law enforcement, and security perambulation, and response to emergencies (Government Accountability Office, 2007). Airport operator employees may also be selected within the Airport security Program to carry out system tests and inspections.

The Most Likely Form of Terrorist Attack on U.S. Aviation

Terrorism is military warfare that is still prevalent today in many parts of the world. Terrorist mainly targets buildings in busy cities, towns and urban centers. The targets (buildings) are highly crowded, where most people carry out their daily operations. On the other hand, highly populated areas are points of attack whether there are existing buildings or not. For example, the United States September 11, 2001 bomb ballast in New York City (World Trade Center) was an ideal target for causing panic. Terrorists are pleased when they cause mass panic since this is their ultimate goal; the U.S.A is more vulnerable to this attack and has a reason to panic.

The September 2001 event was a major terrorist event in the United States of America after civilian airliners were hijacked by Islamic terrorists (al-Qaeda). These airliners were used to assault the World Trade Center in New York City. The al-Qaeda attack killed more than 3,000 people and left thousands injured. After the attack, the United States president, George W. Bush, affirmed a worldwide war on terrorism. Terrorist attacks became the order of the day in almost every part of the world. In 2004, there were Spain train bombings in Madrid and other bombings in the United Kingdom and London. Since then, U.S has been experiencing terrorist attacks, which have continuously caused fear among the residents.

Today, the greatest security threat in the United States which may adversely affect the aviation industry tremendously is that of terrorist using nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, the likelihood of such an event occurring remains low, but with the encroachment in technology, we can never be sure of what will happen tomorrow. If it does occur, the consequences would be disadvantageous and world-changing. Keeping such a weapon out of reach of a terrorist should be given supreme precedence by leaders worldwide, especially those from the White House. The parliament and the community leaders have realized the need to fight against the use of nuclear weapons by terrorists. It is anticipated that if a five Kiloton nuclear weapon is used on the United States aviation industry, it would take the lives of thousands of people instantaneously and also subvert the operations of the aviation industry (Walker, 1998).

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The likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons by terrorists became apparent after the 1998 explosions that occurred between Indian and Pakistani. This was the first fierce war to occur after the cold war. Proliferation optimists dispute that nuclear weapons have an alleviating effect in international and regional relations because they prevent unsurprising wars, while cynics disagree with that claim. Realist scholars explicate the nuclear tests of May 1998 in security terms (Walker, 1998). The standard realist illumination is that America needs nuclear weapons to deter the conventional and nuclear military threat coming from other parts of the world

The central precept behind proliferation optimism is that the main impact of the use of nuclear weapons is to dissuade war between their possessors. Nuclear proliferation is assumed to stabilize because even a small nuclear arsenal can deter potential enemies from attacking the proliferators. Deterrence is essential because the risk of vengeance by even a small number of nuclear weapons overshadows any probable gain of a military attack. Optimists also argue that new proliferators are least expected to suffer the same domination and to have power over problems as the powers used during the cold war ((Walker, 1998).

Before setting up its nuclear dominance, the U.S. will have to develop a considerable nuclear force at the threat of becoming economically insolvent, like the former Soviet Union. It may even be enticed to create a nuclear arms contest to reinstate her tactical prevalence on the subcontinent while elongating the aviation industry financial system to its limit. Organizational deficiencies may force new nuclear nations to create insufficient forces that might be susceptible to anticipatory military strikes. This is because some organizational behaviors are likely to result in deterrence failures, consequently leading to accidental war. For instance, budgetary constraints may force the U.S. to take ineffective measures for protecting a small nuclear arsenal.

To prevent such an event from occurring, the United States has entered into collaborations with other regional, international agencies and countries to fight the menace. For instance, it has joined hands with the Australian government and other countries to dialogue with Muslim countries to stop the terrorist attacks. It has also developed a working relationship with Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, to fight against terrorism. The U.S involved other countries after recognizing that the fight could only be won through collaboration and the use of nonviolent interventions.

Reference List

Government Accountability Office (2006). Aviation Security: TSA Oversight of Checked Baggage Screening Procedures Could Be Strengthened. Web.

Government Accountability Office (2007). Aviation Security: Efforts To Strengthen International Passenger Prescreening Are Under Way, But Planning And Implementation Issues Remain. Web.

Walker, W. (1998). International Nuclear Relations after the Indian and Pakistani Test Explosions. International Affairs 44 p. 518.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, April 28). Terrorism as a Threat to American Airport Security. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/terrorism-as-a-threat-to-american-airport-security/

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"Terrorism as a Threat to American Airport Security." StudyCorgi, 28 Apr. 2021, studycorgi.com/terrorism-as-a-threat-to-american-airport-security/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Terrorism as a Threat to American Airport Security." April 28, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/terrorism-as-a-threat-to-american-airport-security/.


StudyCorgi. "Terrorism as a Threat to American Airport Security." April 28, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/terrorism-as-a-threat-to-american-airport-security/.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Terrorism as a Threat to American Airport Security." April 28, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/terrorism-as-a-threat-to-american-airport-security/.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Terrorism as a Threat to American Airport Security'. 28 April.

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