Air Transportation

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.

  • Travelers wait in line at a security checkpoint at La Guardia Airport in New York City, November 25, 2015

    Commentary

    Out of Line: How to Better Protect Airports from Terrorist Attacks

    In airport security, it's not the size of a potential terrorist bomb that matters most, it's where it detonates. Fortunately, new technologies may present opportunities to get travelers out of line and keep them safe.

    May 2, 2016

  • The KC-46A Experimental Tanker

    Report

    Can the Air Force and Airlines Collaborate for Mutual Benefit? An Exploration of Pilot and Maintenance Workforce Options

    This report explores ways the Air Force and commercial airlines could collaborate on issues related to their pilot and maintenance workforces by evaluating benefits, costs, and feasibility from the perspectives of both sides.

    Apr 21, 2016

  • The DHL parcel service subsidiary of Deutsche Post AG tested a "microdrones md4-1000" for delivery of medicine

    Commentary

    Regulating Drone Airspace Using 'Smart Markets'

    With commercially operated autonomous drones potentially on the horizon, a policy problem is likely to emerge: allocation of scarce airspace and preferred flight paths. “Smart markets” could help.

    Apr 19, 2016

  • TSA Acting Administrator Melvin Carraway meets with TSA officers at New Orleans International Airport the day after a man attacked security agents and later died in the hospital where he was being treated for gunshot wounds

    Commentary

    TSA Flunked Its Security Test Big Time — Now What?

    We have to accept that humans, no matter how well-trained they are or how dedicated they are to their mission, are just not very good at maintaining laser-like focus while performing repetitive tasks. That does not mean airport security can ever be completely given over to machines.

    Jun 15, 2015

  • A TSA arm patch and shield at Los Angeles International Airport, California, February 20, 2014

    Commentary

    Are Airport Security Screeners Looking for the Wrong Things?

    An investigation revealed that the TSA has failed in contraband testing, at a 95 percent rate. This shouldn't be perceived as an indictment of TSA workers. But it may be an indictment of the particular assignments they've been given.

    Jun 4, 2015

  • Dissertation

    Air Transport Pilot Supply and Demand: Current State and Effects of Recent Legislation

    Provides a comprehensive Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) supply and demand model and then assesses the current and future ATP supply and demand pipeline, to include the impact on the U.S. military pilot population.

    Apr 15, 2015

  • Dissertation

    Predicting Active Duty Air Force Pilot Attrition Given an Anticipated Increase in Major Airline Pilot Hiring

    Predicts future pilot attrition given the estimated increase in major airline hiring and recommends several policies that the Air Force can implement to better weather an increase in attrition.

    Feb 25, 2015

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

    Commentary

    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

    Commentary

    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

    Commentary

    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

    Commentary

    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

    Commentary

    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)

    Commentary

    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

    Commentary

    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

    Commentary

    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