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The Aviation and Transportation Security Act mandates that by December 2002 100 percent of checked baggage at all U.S. airports be screened for explosives before being put on an aircraft. Will it be possible to meet this ambitious schedule? RAND assessed the feasibility of using explosive detection system machines for the job and whether less-expensive explosive trace detection machines could shoulder a significant portion of the load. After studying operations at Dulles International Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, the authors concluded that a bottom-up approach on an airport-by-airport basis was preferable to the top-down approach originally mandated by the FAA. They identified six problem areas and propose a number of improvements that, while not meeting the 2002 deadline, will go a long way toward increasing airport security.

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's Corporate Division and the RAND National Security Research Division.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation white paper series. The white paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003 and was meant to convey formally information on a policy issue and to summarize key research findings relevant to pending decisions or policy problems. White Papers drew on a strong body of research and were directed to a specific audience.

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