- Earlier this year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) committed to a December 31, 2011 deadline to screen all incoming air cargo on passenger planes. TSA appears, however, to be reconsidering this commitment in light of air carrier industry comments.
TSA recognizes that it will be difficult to achieve 100 percent screening of inbound passenger air cargo by December 2011 due to operational and legal challenges.
- TSA faces major operational challenges to meet the December 2011 deadline, including the lack of an overseas air cargo security verification mechanism and the complicated logistics of screening certain types of cargo.
- TSA has limited authority to regulate foreign countries. While TSA may require that foreign air carriers with operations to, from, or within the United States comply with any applicable requirements, foreign countries cannot be compelled to implement specific aviation security standards.
Given these operational and legal challenges, TSA has recently detailed various avenues it is pursuing to improve inbound passenger air cargo screening. Among these, TSA indicates it is:
- Reviewing other countries’ screening processes to determine the adequacy of their cargo security programs
- Considering establishing a supply chain security screening program whereby foreign authorized representatives, such as freight forwarders, perform air cargo screening
- Working with the International Civil Aviation Organization and the World Customs Organization to harmonize international air cargo security standards over the long term.
- Developing risk-based screening procedures whereby TSA collects data about air cargo, uses that data to identify high-risk cargo, and undertakes more robust screening for that high-risk cargo.