Aviation Security Legislation Essay Example

Security in aviation has always been a major concern for the international community. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has been ensuring that every person who gets an opportunity to use air transport enjoys a safe and comfortable voyage to and from any destination. Member countries also usually accomplish various practices and meet the conditions that reinforce this concern. Although air transport is still the most preferred and the fastest form of transport, it has of late been associated with security issues. As terrorism has become a real issue in the contemporary society, air transport has become even more susceptible because of the diversity of clients and countries that it serves. Some airlines have in the past been obliged to reschedule their flights or divert their routes after noticing a potential risk to security. Such abrupt arrangements have not only been inconveniencing passengers, but have also costed the affected airlines colossal amounts of money. All in all, the risk associated with costs has been worth taking as compared to the magnitude of risk that would befall the organization should it assume conspicuous risks. It has also been observed that a number of countries have been forced to cut off the links with those countries that they pose a threat to their airlines. Mostly countries that have a perennial history of terrorism, especially from the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, have been targeted. However, the other countries have not been spared of the security threats either. The enemies usually work in an unpredictable style so that they hit when least expected. This reality has brought about innumerable legislations by the member states of IATA in order to control and mitigate the risks associated with aviation. In this respect, this essay delineates various unruly behaviors that have been witnessed among some passengers in aviation industry. It also discusses various ways through which airline organizations have dealt with unruly passenger behavior. Finally, the essay critically evaluates the Montreal Protocol of 2014 which has been instigated with the purpose of enforcing measures against unruly passengers.

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Examples of Unruly Behaviors Among Passengers in the Aviation Industry

Unruly behavior refers to the state where some air travelers fail to abide to the stipulated rules of conduct aboard aircrafts. They may also fail to follow the instructions given by crew members. This conduct usually disturbs order and discipline on board and compromises the safety of other passengers. Some passengers display unruly behavior through the outright violation of rules that guide air travels (Benny, 2012). They may resort to smoking or abusing drugs in the lavatories, operating mobile phones in sections where they are prohibited, circumventing the rights procedures, etc. Others may just be abusive towards the crew and pilots. They make it practically cumbersome for the staff to render required services to them as well as to their fellow passengers. Sometimes the unruly passengers cause unnecessary havoc which results in the delays or diversion of the plane to other destinations. This practice has often resulted into a number of demerits that cost the airlines a lot of money. Moreover, some passengers are considered a big threat to the air travel because of the manner in which they behave. Some may depict traits of insanity causing a lot of worries and harming the crew and other passengers. Others may tamper with smoke detectors and other vital gadgets on the plane hence causing malfunction. Such kinds of scenarios have caused big concerns, especially to the IATA, which is usually responsible for the welfare of air travelers (Bibel, 2010).

Another way in which unruly behavior has been displayed in aviation is hijackings, when certain individuals forcibly control the plane while in transit. In the process they may take the passengers aboard hostage as they steal from them whatever they deem valuable. In most cases hijackers authorize the pilot to divert the plane to another destination or interfere with the communication of the plane with the air traffic controls (Elias, 2009). This situation is especially risky and has been the main cause of crushes and other plane accidents. Other cases involved hijackers who were fully trained as pilots. Their main purpose would be to displace the pilots or simply incapacitate them as they take control of the flight without the knowledge of the crew and the passengers. They would then direct the plane to the destination of their choice where they can accomplish their dirty mission without any fear of being intercepted. Some hijackers mean to enable traffickers of the carriers of illegal substances to elude the law and easily get to their desired destinations. Others hijack with the purpose of stealing from the passengers or even carrying out a revenge mission against their country of origin. For instance, most of the US airlines have been under consistent threat of hijacking following the countries’ efforts against terrorism (Elias, 2009). It has been a way of retaliation organized by terrorist groups from countries that have become a hub of terrorist suspects.

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Similarly, some passengers may engage in physical and verbal confrontation with other passengers or crew members. Such behaviors usually result in commotions that normally raise the tempers of the involved members. Some have even gone to an extent of exchanging insults thus compromising their public integrity. This behavior usually hinders peaceful operations and causes unnecessary tension among the passengers. What is more, some passengers may refuse to comply with the stipulated safety regulations right away and resort to the means that put the lives and property of the airline at jeopardy. Screaming, kicking, annoying mannerisms like spitting, sexual harassment, banging of heads on tray table and seat backs are other common violent behaviors.
Finally, unruly passengers can also cause bomb threats. Some individuals have been smuggling explosive gadgets onto the planes only to unleash them when the plane is in transit. Airline operators usually take dire precautionary measures to ensure that they overcome this risk of bomb threats before the airplane takes off. However, sometimes the vigilance tactic can also be evasive (McLay, Lee & Jacobson, 2010). Rogues would usually take advantage of this situation to orchestrate their malicious ambitions that would result in widespread losses of lives and property.

Ways to Deal with Unruly Passenger Behavior

To ensure the abovementioned behaviors do not threaten the air travel operations, airline companies have been devising provisions to deal with them. First, the management has been encouraging employees to detect as well as report unruly passenger behavior as soon as they spot it. This task is always accomplished at check-in points, in lounges and at entrance gates in order to prevent such passengers from boarding the planes. To enhance this precautionary measure, gate staff as well as flight and cabin crews are educated about potentially unruly passengers. They would always detect and report any of the people with such traits or even those who depict the slightest signs of strange behavior. At these point passengers are often checked manually and electronically just in case they are potential smugglers of illicit gadgets or drug substances. It has been confirmed that most passengers who have been tested positive for drugs have high likelihood of behaving boisterously while on the plane. They are therefore the main targets and would never be permitted to travel under any circumstances.

In addition, airlines have been taking extra precaution while handling groups of travelers. This is a situation whereby many people opt to travel in a group to a particular common destination. Some of the common group travels include pilgrims to the Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Christians on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, sports fans and others. Managing such huge groups of travelers can sometimes be inundating. Some people have been taking advantage of these groups to orchestrate their rowdy behavior or accomplish their malicious acts of terrorism. Companies are therefore always alert and thorough in clearing procedures. What is more, some companies have also empowered their cabin crews as well as ground employees to be administering reasonable steps against this behavior whenever it is demonstrated. They are therefore given special training on the relevant procedures of identifying potentially unruly and intoxicated passengers. This process involves the use of restraint tools in combating this behavior.

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Furthermore, the police have been hired to provide the requisite reinforcement when unruly passengers appear. They have been encouraged to arrest and prosecute any passenger who displays disobedience or behaves violently at the terminals. A number of such cases has subsequently been filed to local courts for trial. Fortunately, the majority of them are usually found guilty of wrongdoings, which would have been detrimental have they been allowed to travel.

Companies have also been consistently outlining their policies regarding ground employees as well as crewmembers who are mostly called upon to testify to the police after an incident of such nature has occurred. They are sometimes obliged to appear in court proceedings when those passengers are being prosecuted. It is usually done to ensure that correct information is unveiled regarding the incidences and the magnitude of risk.

Besides, airlines have also been scrutinizing their employees, especially in the cases of some of them colluding with potential passengers to accomplish heinous acts on planes that are in transit. Sometimes such cases would arise when a member of crew or a ground employee is bribed to allow naughty people onto the plane hence causing damage not only to the organization, but also to the individual passengers who would have travelled along with them. Such arrangements used to be the conduits through which terrorists would gain entry to the terminals staying uninspected to conceal their identities. Eventually, massive destruction similar to that which occurred on September 11, in the US’s World Trade Center in New Yolk and Pentagon Buildings in Washington DC what could be witnessed (Pelton & Jakhu, 2010).

Finally, the majority of airline companies have resorted to the standard operating procedures with the aim of effective prevention and management of incidents that arise because of the passengers. Such procedures include the stipulation of zero tolerance, unruly passenger policy, improvement of carriage conditions, smoking and alcohol prohibition, and other international civil aviation regulations (Pelton & Jakhu, 2010). Through these steps, a clear and standard definition of unruly passenger behavior has been established. As a result, the duties of such employees as flight crew, cabin crew as well as ground workers have been realigned to track the behavior. Furthermore, the procedures for identifying and tracking unruly passengers have also been intensified and passengers have been made aware of the drastic actions taken by travel authorities to ensure optimal security during air travels. Communication and coordination activities that enhance the prevention and management of these unruly passengers have also been at the top of agenda (Persico & Todd, 2005). Finally, air travel departments have also been educated on post-incident actions in their areas of jurisdiction. This has been an effective way of ensuring that normal operations resume promptly after any havoc caused at the terminals.

Evaluation of the Montreal Protocol 2014

Following the pervasiveness of these cases of unruly passenger behaviors and the threats that they pose to the aviation industry, the IATA has held a conference for the member states in Montreal, Canada, in 2014, to deliberate on the course of action (IATA, 2015). During what would later be known as a Montreal Protocol, the delegates made three major improvements to the convention that had earlier been held in Tokyo, Japan. Further clarification of the definition of the term ‘unruly behavior’ as it should be used by member states airlines has been provided. The members have also deliberated on the possibilities to extend jurisdictions over in-flight incidents as well as the ways of recovering costs that have stemmed from passenger behavior. These changes together with other measures that have already been enforced by the airlines are aimed at ensuring greater liability protection for all airlines which frequently deal with the incidents of unruly passengers.

According to the Article VIII of the Montreal Protocol, the need for aircraft commander with judicious grounds to believe that unruly passenger is committing a serious offense in line with the penal law of the state of registration of the aircraft is eliminated (IATA, 2015). Thus, this protocol provides reasonable grounds to believe that a serious offense has been committed once the perpetrator exhibits the traits highlighted in the definition. Serious offenses in this case range from the threats of terrorism or violence to other passengers to tampering with smoke detectors and other significant gadgets in the plane.

The Montreal Protocol also encourages all contracting member states to be taking appropriate measures against the individuals who commit in-flight offences. Such cases may include physical assaults or threats to commit an assault against any member of staff, cabin crew or ground personnel. The measures may also be extended to those who decline the lawful instructions issued by the aircraft commander or by any other staff member on his behalf (Hamilton, 2011). With regards to passenger offenses committed in the destination country of the flight, the Montreal Protocol extends the jurisdiction with the aim of sealing serious convention loopholes that would permit several serious offenses to escape legal punishment.

Similarly, the Protocol categorically augments the provisions needed to support the process of revering significant costs that arise from unruly passenger behavior. In particular, the Article XIII complements the Article XVIII (b) of the Tokyo convention by providing the right for seeking recovery or incurred damages from disembarked persons or delivered in pursuit of Article VIII or IX as provided by the national law (Hamilton, 2011). However, the airlines have the liberty to be circumspect in attempting to charge passengers who are unruly for the hiked costs of holding up as well as fight diversion (Hamilton, 2011). Most passengers will definitely lack the means to pay such fines. In such event airlines will also fail to build reputation by attempting to facilitate punishment of their own passengers.

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What concerns risk control, the Montreal Protocol stipulates three main strategies that are supposed to assist with handling the unruly passengers. They include avoidance, reduction and segregation of exposure. The strategy of avoidance entails the cancellation of activity or operation because the risks associated with its acknowledgement exceed the benefits of ignoring. Therefore, the airlines are supposed to be very vigilant in their assessment of potential risks to their operations at a particular time. No assumptions or negligence of any risks is allowed, because such attitude would be deemed as taking chances to experiment with the lives of passengers in transit. Besides, the strategy of reduction involves reducing the frequency of activity or operation by taking necessary action to mitigate the magnitude of consequences of accepted risks. Finally, with relation to the segregation of exposure, the airlines are required to take adequate action of isolating the consequences of hazard and protecting against it.

The Protocol also has summed up its agenda by eliciting the required preventive measures that are necessary to be adopted by respective airlines internally in each member state of IATA. First, the administrations have been called upon to issue clear written policies to all employees on how to handle the unruly passengers (Hunter, 2012). This action has been necessary and sufficient for the cases to be managed before they escalate and result in massive harm. Besides, it has aimed at ensuring smooth air travel operations by diffusing the frustration which emanates from long lines, delays, technical deficiencies as well as overbookings. As a result, the administrations were forced to provide adequate training facilities for their frontline employees. This decision fostered their knowledge and skills of recognizing the initial symptoms of potentially unruly behavior. They could subsequently ensure that all those who would be directly in contact with passengers attained necessary verbal skills as well as the skills in de-escalation in order to manage these types of situations. Finally, the airlines of the member states of IATA were also required to demand frontline staff to showcase enhanced skills in customer service. These skills would enable them to manage rude and aggressive behavior displayed by passengers. Consequently, employees are obliged to understand the significance of informing other operational areas of such situations in order to empower them to deal with unruly behaviors effectively (Persico & Todd, 2005). Apart from that, they ought to maintain accurate reports and statistics that have to be well-updated on such incidents. That way they can perpetually monitor the types of trends, incidents as well as needs for training.

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Conclusion

Despite the fact that dealing with the issue of unruly passengers is ostensibly complex, there are clear practical steps that air carriers can take to manage and prevent these incidents. However, the cabin crew is recognized to be in a critical and unique position when it comes to dealing with the problem of unruly passengers. These staff members cannot escape the situation or immediately contact the relevant authorities for assistance on board when the plane is in transit. The emphasis so far has been on unruly passenger behavior that ought to be managed by necessary preventive measures in the terminuses of airlines. In such a way, the behavior will be noticed before the perpetrators manage to merge with the crowd. It has been proven to be the most sufficient mitigation measure of keeping the unruly behavior on the ground rather than managing it when the plane has already taken off. Through the Montreal Protocol, the IATA has encouraged a unified and collective approach of aviation which could possibly give rise to significant improvements in the issue of unruly passengers. It is incumbent for the personnel responsible for running crucial affairs within this industry to recognize that it is indeed a real and serious safety issue which should be monitored closely and any strange behavior should be reported for immediate action.