SENATE INTRODUCES AVIATION SECURITY BILL
U.S. Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., on Tuesday introduced the Aviation Security Improvement Act (S. 2949), which calls for strengthened air cargo security measures, including random inspection of indirect air carriers’ (IAC) facilities and the creation of an industry-wide database of known shippers who use the belly holds of passenger planes for cargo transport.
The bill will be considered at Thursday’s executive session of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, a committee chaired by Hollings.
The bill also imposes measures to increase inspections of air cargo shippers and their facilities, in addition to collaborating with foreign countries in conducting regular inspections at foreign facilities that transport air freight to the United States.
S.2949 calls for the Transportation Security Administration to perform an assessment of the current IAC program, and to inspect random inspection of IAC’s facilities, while reporting to Congress on the random audit system. Upon the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) recommendation, the Federal Aviation Administration would be required to suspend or revoke the certification of non-compliant IACs.
Additionally, the bill authorizes the appropriation of funds to carry out air cargo security measures; it also directs TSA to develop a training program for air-freight handlers.
' Last week, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, a co-sponsor of the bill, told senators the air freight industry depends on the opportunities to work with passenger carriers, and that both industries assist one another in generating revenue.
Hutchison said legislation could help in that effort. “I am not saying we want to curb the ability to ship cargo,” she told the Senate Aviation Subcommittee. “We want cargo on our passenger flights. That could keep the airlines afloat.”
According to FAA, a known shipper is a shipper who has a complete customer record and verifiable business history with a carrier or forwarder. IACs who intentionally falsify information about known or unknown shippers can face civil or criminal charges.