Air Transport

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RAND research on air transportation has examined a wide range of topics, including air traffic control, air safety and security, fuel systems, and accident investigations.

  • A line of TSA personnel salute the U.S. Honor Flag procession as it leaves LAX at a ceremony in memory of TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez November 6, 2013

    Blog

    Want to Create Problems? Arm the TSA

    Nov 7, 2013

    With its current 47,000 screeners, an armed TSA would become the federal government's largest armed entity outside of the military. In the eyes of many, arming TSA screeners would change the image of the organization from a service aimed at guaranteeing safe air travel to an unwanted imposition of federal authority.

Explore Air Transportation

  • Airline passengers wait in line before passing through a TSA checkpoint at LAX

    Blog

    TSA's Cellphone Rule Part of Deadly Race

    While placing explosives inside a cellphone is plausible, it is almost impossible to do so with iPhones without rendering them non-functional, which is why the TSA is now checking cell phones are actually working.

    Jul 29, 2014

  • Wreckage from a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 plane that was downed in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, July 18, 2014

    Blog

    Like Flight 370, the MH17 Crash in Ukraine Could Remain a Mystery

    Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was reportedly shot down yesterday near the Russia-Ukraine border. But like Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished in March, what happened to MH17 is shrouded in mystery.

    Jul 18, 2014

  • A pro-Russian separatist at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in Ukraine's Donetsk region, July 17, 2014

    Blog

    3 Weapons That Threaten Commercial Planes

    It's relatively rare that commercial aircraft are targeted with weapons built primarily to attack military aircraft, but there are a range of potential threats from such weapons. Given that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was reportedly at 33,000 feet when contact was lost, it seems impossible that the attack could have occurred using a shoulder-fired missile.

    Jul 18, 2014

  • A commercial aircraft being serviced at an airport terminal

    Blog

    The Breach of Security at San Jose's Airport Raises Broader Issues

    Those charged with security must think in terms of 360-degree security—not only screening passengers coming through the terminal, but also preventing unauthorized access to the aircraft from the air operations side of airport.

    May 13, 2014

  • Messages of support left for family members and passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport

    Blog

    The Flight 370 Mystery Gets Political

    Why might unnamed sources try to link Anwar to a potential hijacking of an aircraft carrying 239 passengers? Possibly to divert attention from the government's ineffective management of the search in the days since the plane's disappearance.

    Mar 19, 2014

  • A line of TSA personnel salute the U.S. Honor Flag procession as it leaves LAX at a ceremony in memory of TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez November 6, 2013

    Blog

    Want to Create Problems? Arm the TSA

    With its current 47,000 screeners, an armed TSA would become the federal government's largest armed entity outside of the military. In the eyes of many, arming TSA screeners would change the image of the organization from a service aimed at guaranteeing safe air travel to an unwanted imposition of federal authority.

    Nov 7, 2013

  • Delayed passengers stand behind a police cordon after a shooting incident at Los Angeles airport (LAX)

    Blog

    Airport Violence—Not a New Phenomenon

    Shootings at airports are nothing new, writes Brian Michael Jenkins. In fact, they have regularly occurred worldwide in recent years. The motives have included terrorism, crime, and mental illness.

    Nov 2, 2013

  • airport-security-3382932556_0bd211465e_o

    Solution

    Increasing Air Security with "Trusted Travelers"

    Long lines at airport security checkpoints are a sign of the post-9/11 world. Can aviation security be more efficient? Better yet, could a “trusted traveler” program not only reduce traveler burden but also increase security?

    Sep 1, 2013

  • Report

    Identifying and Managing Air Force Sustainment Supply Chain Risks

    Examines supply chain risk management, including evolving commercial and Air Force practices.

    Jul 2, 2013

  • Report

    Commercial Intratheater Airlift: Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Use in U.S. Central Command

    Intratheater airlift delivers critical and time-sensitive supplies to deployed forces, but is it cost effective to use commercial, rather than organic Air Force, aircraft to supply this airlift?

    Apr 8, 2013

  • The Harbor Police K-9 Team explosive detection canine perform a search on luggage at San Diego International Airport

    Blog

    More Secure or Less Free?

    It is not surprising that people report a willingness to trade convenience, money, and liberty for security. Legal precedent reinforces that decreased civil liberties may be accepted when confronting existential threats with demonstrably effective security—to a point, writes Henry H. Willis.

    Dec 17, 2012

  • Man at Security Checkpoint

    Blog

    Fake Boarding Pass Fears Inflated

    Instead of ratcheting back the PreCheck program because of manufactured fears about security lapses, TSA should be encouraged to expand this program to more airlines, more airports and more infrequent travelers, write Jack Riley and Lily Ablon.

    Dec 12, 2012

  • Report

    Modernizing the Mobility Air Force for Tomorrow's Air Traffic Management System

    Building on RAND work examining the cost-effectiveness of modernizing the U.S. Air Force's KC-10 aerial refueling tanker to comply with airspace modernization mandates, this study extended the analysis to the C-5, C-17, C-130, and KC-135 fleets.

    Dec 6, 2012

  • Fotolia_1552939_Subscription_Monthly_XL

    Report

    An Assessment of TSA's Risk Management Analysis Tool Finds Some Gaps

    The Transportation Security Administration's RMAT has enabled a more sophisticated understanding of terrorism risks to the air transportation system, but TSA should not treat RMAT results as credible estimates. Rather, the results can help to inform the components of terrorism risk and possible influences of system changes on that risk.

    Nov 26, 2012

  • Airline passengers waiting to board

    Blog

    TSA Procedures Need to Be Remade from Scratch

    It is time for a new approach to meeting America's next-generation aviation security needs, one that dodges the influence of politics and bureaucracies and relies instead on the resources and objectivity of independent researchers operating from a clean slate, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 28, 2012

  • A traveler walks through a metal detector at a security check point in John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, February, 29, 2012

    Report

    After Four Decades, It's Time for a Fundamental Review of Aviation Security

    Budgetary constraints, heavy passenger loads, and popular hostility toward screening procedures are all challenges to securing commercial aviation. After 40 years of focus on tactical measures, it is time for a sweeping review of aviation security.

    Aug 29, 2012

  • News Release

    Costs, Benefits, and Efficiency of Aviation Security Measures

    The threat of terrorist attack on American aviation has made the system the focus of intense security efforts, but it is difficult to determine if the benefits outweigh their cost. Efficient security policy—a focus on getting the most security for the least cost—should be the priority in an era of fiscal austerity.

    Aug 20, 2012

  • Report

    Weighing the Costs, Benefits, and Efficiency of Aviation Security Measures

    The threat of terrorist attack on American aviation has made the system the focus of intense security efforts, but it is difficult to determine if the benefits outweigh their cost. Efficient security policy—a focus on getting the most security for the least cost—should be the priority in an era of fiscal austerity.

    Aug 20, 2012

  • Blog

    Three Ways to Improve Airport Screening

    The TSA's pilot "Pre-check" program that pre-screens travelers who volunteer for it is an overdue advance in security, but it does not address some larger issues surrounding America's airports, writes K. Jack Riley.

    Mar 7, 2012

  • People at an Airport

    Journal Article

    Assessing the Security Benefits of a Trusted Traveler Program in the Presence of Attempted Attacker Exploitation and Compromise

    Fears that terrorists may exploit the minimal security screening of trusted traveler programs have dissuaded the adoption of such programs. Such attempts would reduce the maximum potential security benefits of a program, but they would not eliminate those benefits in all circumstances.

    Mar 1, 2012