Up until the mid-1900s, airline security was not really an issue of concern, but the airline hijacking and terrorism in the 1960s, including the hijacking of a National Airlines jet to Havana, Cuba, in 1961 which sparked a decade-long rash of similar acts by various terrorist groups gave rise to the need for security systems to be put in place.
The United States of America through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in response placed armed sky marshals aboard aircraft. Also, 1973 saw the commencement of the use of metal detectors and x-ray machines to detect weapons and explosives.
Despite these measures, airlines have remained vulnerable and accessible to terrorist groups. And this brings to the forefront the September 11 2001 terrorist attack.
On September 11, terrorists hijacked four airliners and used them to kill more than 3,000 people. Two of the hijacked airliners were used to destroy the New York World Trade Center towers, the third airline crashed into the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and the fourth following the brave and courageous attempt of its passengers to recover same from the hijackers crashed in rural Pennsylvania.
This series of terrorist attacks was categorized as the most deadly in the United States of America history, thus leading to even more stringent measures getting imposed on airports and air travelers.
Below are some of the importance of airport security.
1. Protection Against Terrorists
The hijacking of airplanes discussed above from the 1960s and the most recent high-profile case of September 11, 2001 has been more than enough motivation with regards to the importance of airport and airline security.
Elaborate, extensive, and more tight security measures have since been established to prevent and counter such occurrence. This is, however, an ongoing thing.
2. Fight Against Narcotics And Other Banned Or Controlled Drugs
Since the advent and commercial use of airplanes, the drug industry has seen a boost in sales, due to the ease and speed of transporting drugs across various continents. This has, however, had a negative impact on the economy of countries where drug trafficking is prominent and has led to an increase in drug addiction and other related issues.
3. Prevent Smuggling And Human Trafficking
In addition to drug trafficking, other items, and products, for example, gold, stolen antiques, and in some cases, rare and exotic animals in bags, can be smuggled illegally across borders, using airplanes.
Also, human trafficking has been greatly enabled by the commercialization of airplanes.
This has been greatly reduced by the heavy presence of airport security personnel/systems.
4. Cyber-Security/ Personal Data Protection
Airport security not only includes the protection of the airplanes, passengers, employees, cargo, etc., it also includes the protection of the information of passengers, access to Air Traffic Control Systems, etc.
With the aviation industry being heavily reliant on digital technology in running its activities, hackers are constantly seeking ways to access network computers, air control systems, a database of passengers and employees.
Thus, aviation security is not only limited to physical security, but it also includes cybersecurity.
5. Protection of lives and property of both Passengers and employees
One of the most important reasons for aviation security is to ensure the adequate protection of the lives and property of both the passengers and employees while within the airport and in the air.
Achieving this is by the installation of security systems to counter threats and reduce vulnerability.