TSA to propose scan-all alternative for air cargo security

TSA to propose scan-all alternative for air cargo security

Caption: TSA to propose scan-all alternative for air cargo security

The Transportation Security Administration will unveil how it plans to meet new international requirements for screening 100% of exports on freighter aircraft during a meeting next month with e-commerce shippers and logistics providers.

The international standards, scheduled to go into effect June 30, require all cargo on dedicated freighter aircraft to be physically screened for explosives, as has been done the past decade for shipments traveling on passenger aircraft. Other governments could block flights or subject cargo to lengthy inspections upon arrival for countries that don’t comply.

The extra obligations are expected to raise shipping costs for cargo owners.

The rulemaking pits industry sectors against each other over whether certain entities, such as large online retailers, should receive a carve-out from shipment screening on the basis of having secure facilities. Many shippers and all-cargo carriers argue a risk-based approach is more effective than inspecting every shipment.

The TSA invited e-commerce fulfillment centers, manufacturers, shippers, suppliers, warehouses and third-party logistics providers to discuss its alternative to screening at a closed, virtual meeting Jan. 13, according to a notice scheduled to appear in Wednesday’s Federal Register.

Only representatives from companies and trade associations in those industries with approved access to sensitive security information will be allowed to participate.

“We hope the TSA will stand by our viewpoint as presented in recent comments, which advocate for equal security for all air cargo entities,” said Brandon Fried, executive director of the Airforwarders Association.

The TSA has publicly indicated this year that it hopes to reduce the compliance burden on U.S. and foreign all-cargo carriers by finding a way to move security controls further up the supply chain in a way “that provides a level of security commensurate with the screening of cargo before air transport.”

In fact, the International Civil Aviation Organization standard provides two optional substitutes for physical screening. Governments can establish a Known Consignor program for entities that demonstrate they have secure facilities and follow top security protocols, or they can allow approved businesses to screen shipments themselves or use certified third parties.

In the current passenger environment, airlines are ultimately responsible for cargo screening and use a mix of X-ray and other detection technology, as well as TSA and third-party canine teams. To prevent airport backlogs, the TSA allows upstream screening by certified freight forwarders, ground handlers and independent security firms, as well as shippers that pack each consignment in a secure portion of their warehouse. Entities in the Certified Cargo Screening Program must ensure a secure chain of custody for road transport to the airport.