TSA targets 2011 screening date

AS details surrounding Al-Qaeda’s air cargo bomb plot emerge, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has brought forward its 100 per cent cargo screening target to 31 December 2011.

Intelligence information obtained on 23 December reveals militant organisation Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula sought to make a bomb using insulated drinking mugs and thermoses, leading to enhanced checks in air cargo security lines in the US over the holiday period.

The earliest possible implementation date for 100 per cent screening was initially thought to be 2013, given the complex challenges associated with screening international inbound cargo carried on passenger aircraft. Now 100 per cent of the cargo that is uplifted on passenger aircraft bound for the US must be screened by the end of this year.

Carriers will have 30-45 days to comment on the new 100 per cent screening requirement, and TSA will review and evaluate the industry comments prior to finalising the requirement effective.

TSA Administrator John Pistole explains the Al-Qaeda plot involved the use of triacetone triperoxide (TATP) around the cylinder of a thermos to be put on either passenger or cargo aircraft.

“We put out an alert just making sure that all of our transportation security officers are alert to that and do additional physical screening in addition to the X-rays,” Pistole says.

Perhaps in an effort to speed up cargo screening 12 L-3 X-ray screening systems have now been placed on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Air Cargo Qualified Technologies List. L-3 screens both break-bulk and skid-based air cargo with systems covering TSA’s small, medium and large X-ray classifications.

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