TSA issues plan to tighten air cargo security
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration issued long-awaited proposals to strengthen air cargo security that include tighter rules for freight forwarders, airports, aircraft operators and foreign air carriers designed to prevent terrorists from using the planes as weapons against targets on the ground or from carrying explosives on a plane.
The proposed rules, more than a year in the making, include enhancements to the 'known shipper' program for shipping freight on passenger aircraft. Frequent shippers who meet certain security requirements are allowed to ship goods on passenger aircraft. Carriers and freight forwarders are required to screen allowable shipments. The new rules are intended to make sure freight forwarders are following the security requirements and would extend the criminal history background check required of workers in secure airport areas to workers who handle cargo in warehouses outside the airport. Currently these workers are not screened, leaving the possibility that they could introduce weapons or explosives into a shipment.
Screening would also extend to pilots and other persons traveling on all-cargo aircraft to ensure they do not pose a threat.
The rules also would expand designated security zones in airports, and security requirements associated with them, to cover air cargo facilities.
“We want the air cargo environment to be treated just like the passenger environment in terms of security,” said Elaine Dezenski, deputy assistant secretary for policy and planning for border and transportation at the Department of Homeland Security, at a conference Tuesday hosted by Homeland Defense Journal.
TSA also proposes to make all-cargo airlines adhere to stricter rules that cover major airlines. Currently all-cargo carriers operate under less restrictive security requirements that typically govern operators of much smaller aircraft.
TSA has opened a 60-day comment period on the proposal. Comments must be received by Jan. 10.
To read the entire notice of proposed rulemaking and how to submit comments go to: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/06jun20041800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2004/04-24883.htm .
For a PDF version go to http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fedreg/a041110c.html and scroll down to Transportation Security Administration under Homeland Security Department.