Air Cargo Quarterly - TSA issues proposed air cargo regs

By: | at 07:00 PM | Channel(s): Air Cargo News  

Tighter freight forwarder requirements are in the offing
By Peter A. Buxbaum, AJOT
The Transportation Security Administration issued a notice of proposed rule making November 9, which sets out a comprehensive regulatory scheme for air cargo security. The proposed rules cover operators of passenger and all-cargo aircraft, as well as shippers and air freight forwarders. Among the highlights of the proposed rule: strengthening of the existing known shipper program, and exercising tighter control over air freight forwarders.
In justifying the release of the proposed rules, TSA said it identified “two critical risks in the air cargo environment: (1) The hostile takeover of an all-cargo aircraft leading to its use as a weapon; and (2) the use of cargo to introduce an explosive device onboard a passenger aircraft in order to cause catastrophic damage.” Although TSA acknowledged many security enhancements have taken place since September 11, 2001, the agency said that it, in cooperation with air cargo transportation industry representatives, “has identified additional enhancements of air cargo security to reduce further the likelihood of cargo tampering or unauthorized access to the aircraft with malicious intent.”
In promulgating the new rules, TSA noted that “the air cargo industry is large and complex,” composed of 226 domestic and foreign aircraft operators providing services through 2,789 stations at US airports, and approximately 3,200 air freight forwarders with over 10,000 business locations. “Together these entities transport approximately $30 billion worth of goods per year,” the TSA document said.
In its attempt to impose the one-size-fits-all criteria characteristic of government regulation, the agency’s proposed rules, “are infused throughout the supply chain instead of concentrating all efforts on one measure, such as physical inspection, at a single stage potentially resulting in significant disruption of the supply chain.” The TSA rules:
o Require security threat assessments for individuals with unescorted access to cargo;
o Codify cargo screening requirements;
o Require aircraft operators to prevent unauthorized access to operational areas;
o Require all-cargo aircraft operators to implement enhanced security programs;
o Codify and further strengthen the known shipper program;
o Strengthen foreign air carrier security requirements; and
o Enhance security requirements for air freight forwarders.
TSA already prohibits most aircraft operators with passenger operations from transporting cargo unless a known shipper tenders it. Entities qualify for known shipper status when they meet certain security requirements. “This proposed rule would codify the known shipper program as well as provide enhancements to the existing structure to strengthen the program further,” the proposed rule said.
TSA intends to implement a web-enabled known shipper database, “to centralize data on persons and businesses that are authorized to ship air cargo on passenger aircraft to allow quick and efficient verification of a shipper’s status while reducing redundancy.” An initial version of the database, which now consists of over 400,000 known shippers, was deployed in the fall of 2002 and is currently being used by aircraft operators and air freight forwarders on a voluntary basis. The proposed rules make use of the system mandatory for all aircraft operators, foreign air carriers, and air freight forwarders required to participate in the known shipper program.
The new rule also extends a requirement for beefed up security programs to many all-cargo aircraft operators. The proposed rules require operators of larger all-cargo craft to implement security programs similar to cargo security programs required of passenger operators. “The major objectives of the program are to prevent passenger and large all-cargo aircraft from being used as weapons and to prevent unauthorized explosives from being carried aboard, and potentially detonated, during flight,” the TSA document said.

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American Journal of Transportation

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Peter Buxbaum has been writing about international trade and transportation, as well as security, defense, technology, and foreign policy, for over 20 years. Besides contributing to the AJOT, Buxbaum's work has appeared in such leading publications as [em]Fortune, Forbes, Chief Executive, Computerworld, and Jane's Defence Weekly[/em]. He was educated at Columbia University.