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Total Quality Management in Aviation Security


Airport security is one of the key components of aviation security, as it can prevent a variety of threats, such as terror attacks, hijackings, illegal transportation of weapons and explosives, and more. Most airports have rigorous procedures in place to promote security and safety of travel. However, it is still crucial to ensure that there are no gaps in airport security to avoid risks. Total quality management offers a variety of analytic tools and methods that can help in facilitating the effectiveness of projects and operations. Although no studies have been conducted on the use of total quality management in airport security, it could be useful in identifying existing gaps and addressing them efficiently.

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Research Question

  • The fundamental research question for the study is “Can total quality management help to improve airport safety and security?”.

Airports are commercial organizations that are looking to maximize their profits while lowering their costs. However, they are also among the primary points in aviation security, which makes them responsible for the effectiveness of security checks and other measures used to minimize the risk of unwanted events (Enoma & Allen, 2007). The need to maximize the efficiency of security procedures while at the same time remaining profitable calls for effective management tools. Total quality management is focused on identifying problems and resolving them on an on-going basis, which helps to prevent risks and improve financial efficiency (Chen, 2013). Thus, it could help to improve airport security, making air travel safer for people.

Hypothesis 1

  • Hypothesis 1: Total quality management could help in identifying and addressing existing security gaps.

The main component of total quality management is the use of various analytical tools, some of which can help in identifying problems and their sources. For instance, the Five Whys tool is used to determine the source of a known problem by narrowing it down to a specific part of operations. Similarly, fishbone analysis helps to establish a cause and effect relationship, thus also assisting in identifying gaps that lead to the issue. Given that the airport performs regular security tests, both tools can be useful in explaining any gaps identified during the evaluation. In addition, total quality management provides tools to aid in the improvement of operations. For instance, ISO standards that are frequently used in total quality management efforts allow enhancing information security, thus lowering the risks of leaks and cyber attacks (Gillies, 2011).

Addressing specific security gaps is the key to improving security procedures. For instance, if there are any problems with luggage screening, additional training for security employees might help to resolve the issue. Moreover, identifying a source of the problem can help the airport to manage security expenses by improving the effectiveness of specific security operations.

Hypothesis 2

  • Hypothesis 2: Total quality management can help to promote customer centricity which would have a positive effect on customers’ perception of security measures.

Some of the tools offered as part of total quality management are designed to improve customer service by promoting customer centricity. For instance, the RADAR logic helps to ensure that customers receive consistent, high-quality service that responds to their needs. Providing training to security workers based on the total quality management approach can thus help to establish a positive relationship with customers.

As the effectiveness of security measures should be the key priority of the airport, customers’ experiences with security are usually given a low priority. However, Alards-Tomalin et al. (2014) found that customers’ experiences with airport security were positively associated with future enplanement choices. Moreover, ensuring positive relationships between airport personnel and customers can also help in promoting cooperation. Thus, improving customer centricity can contribute to the airport’s security efforts.

Hypothesis 3

  • Hypothesis 3: Total quality management can help airports to reduce expenses, thus allowing them to increase security expenditures.

One of the key benefits of total quality management approach is that it allows the company to cut expenses while maintaining a high quality of products or services. This is especially true for companies applying the total quality management tools and practices comprehensively rather than those focusing on a single department. Financial analysis that is part of the approach can help in determining unnecessary expenditures and reducing them, thus allowing the company to generate more profit.

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In airport security, the effectiveness of operations relies largely on the technologies used in screening, as well as personnel. Lack of sufficient funding could lead to security problems due to outdated technologies or high staff workload. Identifying opportunities for reducing expenses in other areas of the business could thus help airports to direct more of its funds on improving security operations. This, in turn, would have a positive effect on security effectiveness.


Overall, previous research suggests some important benefits of total quality management that could be translated into airport security. However, given that there were no recent studies focusing on the application of total quality management tools to airport security operations, the topic remains unexplored. Successful research on the relationship between total quality management and the effectiveness of airport security can aid in improving aviation safety worldwide, thus also reducing the risks to homeland security.


Alards-Tomalin, D., Ansons, T. L., Reich, T. C., Sakamoto, Y., Davie, R., Leboe-McGowan, J. P., & Leboe-McGowan, L. C. (2014). Airport security measures and their influence on enplanement intentions: Responses from leisure travelers attending a Canadian University. Journal of Air Transport Management, 37(1), 60-68.

Chen, S. H. (2013). Integrated analysis of the performance of TQM tools and techniques: A case study in the Taiwanese motor industry. International Journal of Production Research, 51(4), 1072-1083.

Enoma, A., & Allen, S. (2007). Developing key performance indicators for airport safety and security. Facilities, 25(7/8), 296-315.

Gillies, A. (2011). Improving the quality of information security management systems with ISO27000. The TQM Journal, 23(4), 367-376.

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