Air cargo screening rules violations
The effectiveness of screening cargo carried on passenger planes has been called into question following recent breakdowns by private companies responsible for following security measures.
The first case involved Activair, the air freight forwarding division of Brentwood, Tenn.-based OHL. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration in late December shut down Activair while it investigates allegations the company did not screen, as required, large amounts of freight at its main Indianapolis facility before tendering it to passenger airlines.
The company is regulated by the TSA and is certified to self-screen cargo. Under the Certified Cargo Screening Program shippers, forwarders and independent third parties can get approval to screen cargo themselves in order to minimize damage from extra handling and inspection delays that could result if the responsibility is left to airlines. Companies can place security seals on the cargo and list on the shipping documents that pre-screening has occurred. TSA implemented the program in advance of the Aug. 1 deadline to screen all air cargo on passenger planes for bombs and explosives to help avoid commercial disruptions.
It is not immediately clear how TSA uncovered the possible security breaches, but the agency has more than 500 cargo inspectors who periodically check whether certified screeners are meeting standards. This is the first known instance of a company being kicked out of the CCSP program after meeting its higher security bar.
OHL, formerly known as Ozburn-Hessey Logistics, acquired London-based Activair in 2008 as part of a broader effort to build out its international logistics capabilities. In May 2010, the company decided to integrate Activair under the OHL brand and phased out the prior name. The Activair subsidiary operates as part of the global freight management and logistics business unit, which the company touts as having a higher-than-average Customs compliance rating.
OHL handles more than 110,000 air freight shipments per year, according to a 2009 profile on the company by Armstrong & Associates.
In response to the Activair security breakdown, OHL on Dec. 26 named Paul D. Killea as its new compliance director overseeing compliance and security, including company-wide audits. He slides over to the new post after serving as senior vice president of the customs brokerage division. He previously was vice president for compliance at ABX Logistics and Exel Global Logistics before joining OHL in June.
OHL previously had a compliance leader, but not at the senior vice president level that directly reports to the company's executive team, spokeswoman KaraBrown said. The move elevates the importance of compliance within the company.
OHL said it is using its Barthco International network to handle Activair freight from the United States. 'As a result, our customers will not be affected by the TSA inquiry.'
The 3PL acquired its Barthco subsidiary in 2006.
In the second incident, Continental Airlines is being investigated for not screening a box with a dead dog that went through its cargo facility at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, according to the local Star-Ledger.
A man heading to Los Angeles on Jan. 4 brought the carcass to a TSA checkpoint. Agency officials ordered the box to be screened at Continental Airlines cargo facility, but were notified while the plane was in the air that the box was never screened.
The officials decided the risk was low and allowed the plane to continue to its destination.
TSA officials said the airline should have screened the box with the dead dog and are considering whether to penalize the company for the violation.
Continental's oversight is troubling, but it should be remembered that the shipment didn't come through regular cargo channels. It was an anomaly, routed to Continental as a single piece by TSA. On the other hand, individuals often bring cargo to the ticket counter that is routed to the cargo operation and those pieces must be screened by the airline.
Coalition to address air cargo security
Four freight transportation-oriented organizations have formed the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group to advocate for improvements in the security of the air cargo supply chain without disrupting trade.
The group's founders are The International Air Cargo Association, the International Air Transport Association, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations and the Global Shippers' Forum. The organizations all espouse multilayered security regimes that follow risk-management principles instead of comprehensive inspections, the use of supply chain security programs that push much of the screening responsibility to shippers according to international standards, and enhanced data sharing of electronic advance cargo information.
The groups want governments to accept the programs of trading partners as equivalent to their own so that inbound cargo can be considered screened without having to be checked upon arrival.
The Global Air Cargo Advisory Group said it would make the following points in discussions with government regulators:
' Government-industry cooperation should be a fundamental principle of cargo security decision-making and lines of communication must remain open at all times.
' The International Civil Aviation Organization should be the global focal point for collaboration on cargo screening requirements and both governments and industry should be part of the ongoing dialogue.
' ICAO should set global definitions and standards for air cargo security, including the definition of what constitutes 'higher risk cargo,' and must do so on an expedited basis.
' National and regional regulators should adopt ICAO definitions and standards on an urgent timetable.
' Protocols for transferred cargo should take into account screening that was performed prior to the original flight.
' Industry and government should follow the international standard set by the World Customs Organization on advance cargo information to facilitate risk-assessment.
' Industry and government should jointly develop and endorse a standard electronic cargo security declaration process and its associated paper layout.