Linking aviation security failures to human-mediated error. A review of the related literatures with directions for policy and research
Journal of Transportation Security
Given the continued growth of air traffic demand and the importance of preventing aviation security failures in this increasingly complex system, this paper offers a review of the relevant literatures relating to the linkages between aviation security failures and human-mediated error. It argues that academics, security professionals and policymakers have given very little consideration to the complexity of these linkages; understanding how human errors can create hidden modes of failure that
... n be exploited by terrorists and other threat groups. This paper discusses how the literatures in other related fields can be used to explain how human-mediated errors are created and incubated, and how these error types can evolve to become system vulnerabilities and exploitable modes of aviation security failure. The paper concludes by identifying a significant gap in the current theoretical discourse. Implications for actionable policy and research recommendations include taking a fresh approach to proactively mitigating risk; implementing an over-arching risk management strategy which includes analysing data relating to aviation security failures and developing predictive models to detect abnormal and sub-optimal security performance. human-mediated errors, and to understanding how these same connections can increase the risk of creating hidden modes of failure (i.e., opaque pathways through all of the security system layers) that can be exploited by terrorists and other threat groups (McFarlane 2017) . Recognising this risk is essential because human error is now widely recognised as being causal to the creation of modes of failures in othersimilar-types of systems (cf. Reason 1990Reason , 2008. However, the extent to which failures in aviation security are related to human error, is not fully understood, because it has not yet been attributed an appropriate level of significance by researchers, security professionals and policymakers (McFarlane 2017). There are, however, some studies which have considered these linkages more broadly (cf. McFadden and Towell 1999; Weigmann and Shappell 2001a, b; Liang et al. 2010 ; Chiu 2016 for discussions about human factors in aviation accidents, aviation safety and aviation maintenance failures). There are also a limited amount of studies which make more specific connections, for example, the effect of human error and organisational factors in transportation security screening processes and inspection systems (cf. Kraemer et al. 2009; Arcúrio et al. 2018) . Given this current situation, this paper reviews the condition of the relevant academic and professional literatures relating specifically to aviation security and human error. It discusses how the literatures in other related fields can be used to explain how human-mediated errors are created and incubated, and how these errors may evolve to become hidden system vulnerabilities and exploitable modes of aviation security failure. This review is organised into four further sections. The first section introduces the concept of human-mediated errors and connects aviation security to the broader field of socio-technical system failures; arguing the current system is not effectively optimised and continues to operate in a weakened state. By concentrating upon the vital work of Reason (1990), the second section, uses the established theoretical paradigm of human error to explain how human-mediated errors and modes of failure could be created in the aviation security system. The third section turns to explain how these errors incubate and remain concealed within the layers and vagaries of the system. Finally, the paper concludes by identifying a significant gap in the current theoretical discourse connecting failures in aviation security with human-mediated errors and recommends directions for further research and policy change in this area to mitigate the risk of future security failures.