Air Transportation

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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.

  • Airport trading cards, photos by Airports Council International-North America; design by Katherine Wu/RAND Corporation

    Report

    U.S. Airport Infrastructure Funding and Financing

    Passenger air travel is at an all-time high, and demand for it is expected to rise. Will current levels of spending under existing federal policies be sufficient to enable commercial airports to make the infrastructure investments needed to meet that demand?

    Jan 14, 2020

  • Passengers on a flight, photo by vovashevchuk/Getty Images

    Report

    COVID-19 Was Spreading Globally for Weeks Before It Was Declared a Pandemic

    Worldwide exports of COVID-19 cases began increasing at an accelerating rate on February 19, 2020. That was three weeks before the World Health Organization declared the pandemic. By the end of February, nearly 40 cases per week were spreading around the globe via air travel.

    Sep 22, 2020

Explore Air Transportation

  • 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

  • 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

    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

  • airport security check with passenger walking through metal detector

    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

  • U.S. Air Force Academy's unmanned Viking 300 aircraft

    Commentary

    Expect More Drone Use Like Recent Israeli Episode

    Practically any country that aspires to an indigenous aviation industry (as most countries do, even if only for national pride) has a reasonably capable, medium-altitude unmanned drone system in development or flying already, writes Ted Harshberger.

    Oct 11, 2012

  • Airline passengers waiting to board

    Commentary

    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

  • Report

    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 21, 2012

  • News Release

    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

  • Passengers shuffling through an airport

    Commentary

    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

  • Passengers in an airport, photo by 06photo/Adobe Stock

    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

  • Report

    Report

    Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) Options for the Future

    This briefing offers a menu of potential future activities for the nonaviation lands at Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) to enhance the quality of life in Santa Monica through community-linked programs.

    Feb 23, 2012

  • Fliers take off their shoes before going through a TSA security checkpoint in the Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, July 28, 2011, photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Unmentionable Costs of Airline Security

    For most of the past decade, the U.S. has pursued policies with very little regard to the costs they impose on travelers or the net reduction in risk that they generate, writes K. Jack Riley.

    Sep 13, 2011

  • A child puts his shoes in a bin while going through a TSA security checkpoint in the Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, July 28, 2011, photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is it Time to Consider a New Approach to Airline Security?

    It may be possible that the development and deployment of improved security technologies and reconfigurations of security checkpoints will keep security one step ahead of terrorist adversaries, but it also may be an appropriate time to explore fundamentally new approaches, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 1, 2011

  • Periodical

    Periodical

    Beyond the Shadow of 9/11

    The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks warrants a thoughtful review of America's progress and future strategy. In this RAND Review cover story, RAND experts offer perspectives on Afghan-led solutions, ways to counter al Qaeda, air passenger security, and compensation for those affected by terrorism.

    Sep 1, 2011

  • News Release

    News Release

    RAND Book Provides Critical Review of U.S. Actions Since 9/11; Recommends Future Anti-Terror Path

    A new collection of essays by experts from the RAND Corporation examines America in the decade since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, focusing a critical eye on the nation's actions since the attacks and outlining changes in strategy needed to improve efforts against jihadist groups.

    Jul 26, 2011

  • Report

    RAND Book Provides Critical Review of U.S. Actions Since 9/11; Recommends Future Anti-Terror Path

    A new collection of essays by experts from the RAND Corporation examines America in the decade since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, focusing a critical eye on the nation's actions since the attacks and outlining changes in strategy needed to improve efforts against jihadist groups.

    Jul 26, 2011

  • Report

    Report

    Preserving Range and Airspace Access for the Air Force Mission: Striving for a Strategic Vantage Point

    Air Force range managers schedule the infrastructure and airspace needed for realistic testing and training activities, which requires adequate information about the proposed maneuvers, the acceptable context, and understanding of the goals.

    May 17, 2011

  • Brochure

    Brochure

    Air Travel Security Since 9/11

    The author explores air travel security performance since 9/11, identifies missed opportunities and innovations, and considers potential next steps.

    Apr 12, 2011

  • Report

    Report

    Advancing Aeronautics: A Decision Framework for Selecting Research Agendas

    Develops a unified decisionmaking approach for selecting aeronautics research agendas that quantifies the social and economic reasons for the research, balances competing perspectives, and enables transparent explanation of the resulting decisions.

    Feb 17, 2011