VIDEO: Improving air cargo security in the US

27 / 07 / 2017

  • John Katko heads a Homeland Security subcommittee session on improving air cargo security in the US

    John Katko heads a Homeland Security subcommittee session on improving air cargo security in the US

The US air cargo industry has been debating how it believes the sector can make supply chains more secure (see video at end of article).

Air cargo participants presented their thoughts on air cargo security to a Homeland Security subcommittee chaired by Republican John Katko.

President of the Cargo Airline Association Stephen Alterman said that he would like to see an increase in the use of dogs as a primary means of screening cargo because the technology to screen freight in a manner consistent with the operational needs of the industry does not exist today.

“Since there are not enough canines owned by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to accomplish this objective, we continue to urge TSA to establish a programme whereby TSA would establish standards that would be used by third-party vendors and certify other third-parties to ensure that the vendors are, in fact, correctly applying the standards established,” he said.

Alterman would also like to see more stability at the top of the TSA. He pointed out that in the last three years there have been two administrators and three acting administrators and added that he would like there to be a fixed five-year term for the role.

Airforwarders Association executive director Brandon Fried said he would like to see consistent interpretation of regulations by all inspectors, the TSA to continue to provide standardised training on security, that forwarders should not be the only ones to submit data for the advanced screening programme (ACAS) when it is implemented, there should be updates to the known shipper programme to reflect the growth of e-commerce and he added to calls for more canines.

Bart Elias, specialist in aviation policy resources of the congressional research service recommended enhanced vetting of air cargo employees to reduce insider threats, the implementation of the advanced screening programme and the use of bomb-resistant bags on flights.

On third-party canine services, Elias said it was premature to say whether their increased use could provide a viable means to address security screening concerns after a 2011 pilot project failed to demonstrate reliable conformity to TSA performance standards among canine teams provided by outside contractors.

Express Association of America executive director Michael Mullen outlined an array of measures it would like to see introduced around government and industry working together, ways to improve the advanced data programme, calls for advanced data to be used for security only and flexible IT filing systems and screening programmes.

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