An expert’s take on air cargo screening

A prominent air cargo security expert shared some insight with LM about the TSA's new December deadline for 100 percent cargo screening on international inbound flights to the U.S.

By ·

When the United States Department of Homeland Security recently announced that it set a December 3, 2012 deadline, which requires passenger air carriers to conduct 100 percent cargo screening on international inbound flights, it did not necessarily come as a surprise.

The reason for the lack of a surprise is that these types of deadlines have been routinely pushed back over the years. While the reasons vary, one thing remains constant in that the focus is always on safety, which really goes without saying.

As LM reported at the time of TSA announcing the deadline extension, the original deadline for 100 percent cargo screening on international U.S.-bound flights was December 31, 2011, but TSA pushed it back last October. TSA spokesman Jim Fotenos told LM the new December 3, 2012 deadline is firm and will allow the air cargo industry to screen U.S.-bound cargo by that date.

TSA’s screening requirements for these flights “builds additional risk-based, intelligence-driven procedures into the prescreening process to determine screening protocols on a per-shipment basis. This process, said TSA, requires enhanced screening for shipments designated as higher risk, while lower risk shipments will undergo other physical screening protocols.”

When I was hitting the phones and pinging contacts after TSA released this news, I heard back from Albert Saphir, principal of ABS Consulting, in Bradenton, Florida. Given his tremendous insight and experience when it comes to transportation security, and really all things logistics, Albert had a lot of interesting things to say about this deadline extension.

But since it was after my deadline, I decided that this space would make for a nice home for Albert’s comments (fair editorial warning: you may see them re-purposed down the road at some point!)

“I expect that all airlines departing for a U.S. airport of destination will therefore soon require additional advance data (at house air waybill level detail) several hours prior to departure,” Saphir said. “CBP and TSA have also been working with some of the very large global air freight forwarders to determine methods on how those forwarders could transmit the required data directly to CBP/TSA targeting system in an effort to reduce the potential ‘bottleneck’ with airlines receiving a tremendous amount of additional data prior to the deadline for submission to CBP/TSA.

Saphir pointed out that some foreign governments have considerable air cargo security programs already, and a few of them—maybe 5-7, out of the 97 countries which have direct flights to the USA currently, he estimated—have already signed mutual agreements with the US/TSA.  So for flights originating in those countries the he said airlines will continue to do what they are instructed to do in the departing country today.

None of this is easy, especially when one notes, as Saphir does, that this is and unfunded mandate by Congress, and it will be up to the airlines to figure out how to do this, as with luck the U.S. may get 15-20 of the 97 countries on board by December with MOU’s.

“The way I see this, it will be a combination of advance data (ACAS – similar to ISF, basically much earlier than the current Air AMS data and more detail) and physical/x-ray/EDT screening that airlines will need to perform overseas,” said Saphir. “TSA cannot regulate foreign freight forwarders like they can here under the voluntary CCSF program.  Thus it will be up to the airlines to figure out how they can get a few key freight forwarding customers involved as their agent to perform any pre-screening etc.

And the subsequent impact on shippers and other supply chain stakeholders?

Saphir explained that it will most certainly add a few hours to the current cut-off times at origin, plus also additional cost, something similar akin to what is in place for passenger air cargo screening here on flights departing from U.S. airports.


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

Air Cargo · Air Freight · Security · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Reduce Order Processing Costs by 80%
Sales order automation software will seamlessly transform inbound emailed and printed purchase orders into electronic sales orders that can be automatically processed into your ERP system with 100% accuracy.
Download Today!
From the June 2016 Issue
In the wildly unstable ocean cargo carrier arena, three major consortia are fighting for market share, with some players simply hanging on for survival. Meanwhile, shippers may expect deployment shifts as a consequence of the Panama Canal expansion.
WMS Update: What do we need to run a WMS?
Supply Chain Software Convergence: Synchronization Realized
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Optimizing Global Transportation: How NVOCCs Can Use Technology to Operate More Profitably
Global transportation isn't getting any easier to manage, especially for non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs). Faced with uncertainties like surcharges—but needing to remain competitive when bidding against other providers—NVOCCs need the right mix of historical data, data intelligence, and technology support to make quick and effective decisions. During this webcast you'll learn how Bolloré Transport & Logistics was able to streamline its global logistics and automate contract management.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Top 50 U.S. and Global 3PLs 2016: Technology Now the Key Differentiator
Following last year’s merger and acquisition frenzy, the speed of technology implementation by the...
Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....

Top 25 ports: West Coast continues to dominate
The Panama Canal expansion is set for late June and may soon be attracting more inbound vessel calls...
Port of Oakland launches smart phone apps for harbor truckers
Innovation uses Bluetooth, GPS to measure how long drivers wait for cargo