The landscape of aviation law and security has changed a great deal since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. The law was was enacted on November 19, 2001. Examining the “who, what, where, when and why” of the facts surrounding the creation of the 2001 Aviation and Transportation Security Act help give a complete picture of this legislation and its implications.
The 2001 Aviation and Transportation Security Act, officially called “ Airport Security Federalization Act and the Aviation and Transportation Security Act,” was passed by the 107th Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush on November 19th, 2001. According to The 2001 Aviation and Transportation Security Act (2001), it was created, “To improve aviation security, and for other purposes,” and was created by the Senate and House of Representatives (p. 1). The act is also referred to as “Public Law 107-71,” in official documents. The law was designed with a particular emphasis on airport security (“Aviation and Transportation,” 2015, para. 1). The law was sponsored by Senator Ernest Hollings and was first introduced September 21, 2001, shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 (“S.1447 – Aviation and Transportation,” n.d.).

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The Aviation and Transportation Security Act made several changes to how security and other issues were handled. According to Lerner (2004), “ The laws sought to standardize pre-flight passenger and cargo screening by federalizing security service and screening personnel in the nation’s airports” (para. 1). Lerner also goes on to state that The Aviation and Transportation Security Act also created the Federal Transportation Security Administration, which is more commonly known as the TSA. According to Lerner, the TSA was formed to, “ supervise security operations for sea and air transportation”, and that the organization, “hires and trains Federal airport screeners, who under the new law must all be American citizens (2004, para. 1). According to President Bush the law aimed to, “give all Americans greater confidence when they fly” (“President Bush Signs,” 2001). According to USLegal (n.d), the ATSA’s central feature was the federalization of transportation security (para. 1).

Aside from making changes to personnel and the creation of the TSA, The Aviation and Transportation Security Act also made a variety of other changes as well. According to Lerner (2002), the Act also called for the use of bomb detection for baggage, which began being used “as of December 31, 2002” (para. 2). This detection was handled using CT Scanning equipment which was able to detect residue that would be present if explosive devices were used, and increased searches of luggage by hand were also encouraged under new guidelines around this time. According to The Federal Privacy Council (n.d.), the The Aviation and Transportation Security Act outlined a number of screening procedures which were to be conducted, which included 100 percent screening of all checked baggage, reinforced and redesigned cockpit doors to protect pilots and copilots, and also expansion of Federal Air Marshals (para. 1). The Aviation and Transportation Security Act also made it so airport gates became only accessible to passengers with tickets. Additionally, although metal detectors has always been used, there were now more detailed checks on electronics, such as laptops and phones, which now had to pass through x ray equipment separately.

There were also a variety of changes made to the aircraft’s themselves, in order to provide more stability and security. Cockpit doors were made to be stronger and were also required to be locked during the duration of the flight so that the pilot and copilot could not be disturbed. In addition to this, the pilot and also members of the crew would be able to view the cabin though video monitors (Lerner, 2004, para. 6). Lerner (2004) also explains that the ACT made it so The Department of Transportation required airplanes to be equipped with emergency systems that could communicate with emergency services (para. 6). According to Lerner (2004), “the number of security personnel and law enforcement officers on duty in the nation’s airports has increased,” which included more K-9 units and also dogs that could smell chemicals and bombs (para. 6).

The details involved in the preflight screening process were also changed by The Aviation and Transportation Security Act. Confirming the identity of the traveler became one of the most important steps in the screening process. A system called the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) was now used to check passengers were were flying to foreign destinations. The APIS is a database that stores information on individuals and could be used to detect any known issues or problems. After check in, identification would now be checked a second time. Passengers must pass through metal detectors and all of their belongings would be checked by special x ray machines that show images in three different colors and could detect organic, inorganic, and metal items (Lerner, 2004, para 10). In addition to this, identification is sometimes also checked a third and final time prior to boarding an aircraft (Lerner, 2004, para. 10). Checked baggage is also checked by x ray or CT scanners, and barcodes are used to match luggage with passengers.

A variety of changes to transportation security were made in accordance with The Aviation and Transportation Security Act. The act provided the United States with a response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and helped make travel more secure. Through increased security in the airports and the aircraft’s themselves, and changes to preflight screening and check- in procedures, The Aviation and Transportation Security Act made flights and travel more secure.

  • “Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001.” (2015). Retrieved from
  • Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, 49 USC 40101.
  • Federal Privacy Council. (n.d.). Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001. Retrieved from
  • Lerner, A. W. (2004). Airline Security. Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security, The Gale Group Inc. Retrieved from
  • “President Bush Signs Aviation Security Bill.” (2001). The Washington Post. Retrieved from
  • “S. 1447 – Aviation and Transportation Security Act.” (n.d). Congress.Gov. Retrieved from
  • USLegal. (n.d.). Aviation and Transportation Security Act. Retrieved from