Human Factors in U.S. Civil Aviation Security
Ronald John Lofaro Federal Aviation Administration
This chapter may well be very different from others in this text. The first basic reason is that Civil Aviation Security in the United States is the responsibility of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This is by law--in the main, Public Law 101-604, The Aviation Security Improvement Act of 1990. Basically, it sets up a Civil Aviation Security System, with the FAA as the focal point. Second, although there are other organizations that are involved in aviation security, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), air carriers, and aviation security companies, it is still the FAA that acts both as a "glue" and in a cooperative, oversight capacity. But the major reason that this chapter differs is that much of the information and work in aviation security are not able to be made public, as they can be sensitive, "for official use only," or classified data. The basic rule of thumb is this: No data that could afford a possible terrorist (or any other who may pose a threat to civil aviation) accurate insights into either the capabilities or the limitations of the civil aviation security system can be made public. Because the aviation security system comprises the devices, equipment, procedures, and personnel involved in keeping the flying public safe from sabotage and terrorism, it is obvious that this chapter cannot contain certain levels of detail. Although this is regrettable, as much of security can be novel, interesting, and exciting to the human factors practitioner, the reason for a rather broad-based approach is clear. In fact, every time you fly, there is reason to be thankful that those details about the security system that could result in a successful seizure or bombing of an aircraft are not made available to the public.
The FAA, through its Associate Administrator for Civil Aviation Security, read and edited this chapter before it went to press. This FAA approval is a legal requirement. What this chapter does contain is a history and overview of the current security system, followed by current issues and human factors efforts, and some concluding thoughts on the future.____________________