Developing immunity to flight security risk: prospective benefits from considering aviation security as a socio-technical eco-system

Paul McFarlane, Mils Hills

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Since 9/11, preventing similar terrorist disasters has been the predominant goal of aviation security. Yet, in this paper we seek to explore why it is that despite our increased knowledge of disaster causation - aviation security systems still remain vulnerable to future exploitation by adaptive terrorists and other threat groups. We adopt a novel approach, and present early directions of how we apply the benefits of high level appreciations of socio-technical and biological eco-systems to existing complex aviation transportation security systems. We propose that by approaching aviation security as a complex socio-technical eco-system, it offers an opportunity to think beyond conventional methodologies to improve system performance in a way that, hitherto, would not have been possible. The paper concerns itself with the ability for aviation socio-technical eco-systems to hold the capacity to proactively identify and mitigate pathogenic errors and violations. This narrow view is juxtaposed with identifying methods of reducing error creation ‘before’ they become system vulnerabilities. To address this problem, the paper concludes that a fresh approach, both conceptually and operationally, is required to understand that ‘true’ foresight of latent vulnerabilities can only be achieved by a system which is ‘intelligent’ and ‘self-aware’, in other words to identify and modify hostile pathogens before they are exploited. The development of true foresight in aviation security systems is critical to the prevention of future terrorist attacks.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Transportation Security
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2013

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