Wednesday, June 30, 2010

US Air Cargo Screening Means Shipping Delays

New Technology Needed By Department of Homeland Security
Shipping News Feature

US – Many US shippers have seemingly chosen to ignore the new regulations which come into force on the 1st August for domestic freight carried within the holds of passenger carrying aircraft, choosing instead to leave the problem with their freight forwarders. From that date every internal cargo consignment has to be certified as having been properly screened, or physically inspected, prior to loading.

In December we highlighted the problems well known to those in the freight industry with regard to maintaining a consistent security link for all cargo. Despite the willingness of officials involved with the Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP) for shippers to actually inspect their own goods, a system which may seem a little incongruous to an outside observer when security is involved, most shippers rely on their freight carriers to attend to screening but often without taking into account the delays involved.

Airlines are requiring consignments to be delivered earlier to ensure goods comply with the regulations; the cut off times from the 1st August will be extended by many up to 50%, normally 6 hours prior to take off. In the CCSP overview the Transport Security Administration points out to shippers the pitfalls of airport screening, in their words ‘Every shipment of cargo carried on passenger aircraft will require screening at piece level, prior to being transported on any passenger aircraft. Skids and pallets will have to be taken apart, screened and reconfigured…. there is a potential for delays and damage to shipments.’

Despite the many systems available for spotting potentially hazardous consignments Governments are still desperately seeking to upgrade their security to stay ahead of potential threats. Canada’s federal government has already committed $96-million for cargo screening over five years and the Department of Homeland Security issued a Broad Agency Announcement just two weeks ago of a research opportunity to find new screening technologies to detect explosives in air cargo consolidated onto pallets.

The urgency is obvious as the Agency is open to all proposals, and submissions must be in by the 23rd August with an offer of funding up to $3 million the successful applicants to be notified by the 7th September. There will never be perfect security when the traffic volumes which transit the States daily are taken into account; however the price we pay for increased vigilance is likely to be the age old combination of time and money no matter how technology advances.