TSA set to issue air cargo security regulations
Tighter air cargo security rules will require background checks for more than 100,000 employees of air cargo carriers and freight forwarders, and consolidate the Known Shipper list into a central database, the Transportation Security Administration said in a preview of regulations that are expected to be published in the next few days.
The TSA also said it will complete the hiring of 300 additional air cargo inspectors within the coming weeks to enforce the rules at 102 airports.
The new rules, nearly two years in the works, mark the first substantial changes to air cargo regulations since 1999 and make permanent some practices already in place. The rules affect about 50,000 tons of cargo that move each day on passenger and all-cargo aircraft.
New measures include consolidating about 4,000 private industry Known Shipper lists into one central database managed by TSA to allow the agency to better vet known shippers. Under the Known Shipper program, frequent shippers who meet certain security requirements are allowed to ship goods on passenger aircraft. TSA has managed a Known Shipper database, but it only includes information that some freight forwarders have voluntarily provided.
TSA said it would provide draft security programs to carriers and consolidators for comment concurrent with the release of the final rule. Compliance deadlines will be phased in during the next six months.
There are an estimated 51,000 employees who work for freight forwarders outside the airport environment who will now be required to undergo criminal history background checks. And the new rules extend secure areas of airports to include ramps and cargo facilities. That will require an additional 50,000 people who work for cargo aircraft operators to receive background checks too.
Other measures that TSA has already implemented include:
* Unannounced inspection blitzes to add unpredictability to the inspection process.
* Using TSA screeners and equipment at airports to take radiographic images of cargo that is delivered directly to airport ticket counters.
* Expanded use of canine explosive detection teams in air cargo facilities.
In recent weeks, TSA has revoked the air carrier certification of forwarders J.H. World Express in Los Angeles and Inter-Shipping Chartering Corp. in Miami, and denied the renewal of the cargo security program for Aramex International Courier in Washington, D.C.