There have been many modifications to airport security in response to the terror threats of recent years, most of which have affected passengers and their baggage. However, it is not only individuals who are now having to contend with new regulations and increased security checks. The air cargo industry is experiencing similar changes as the USA Transport Security Administration implement new security standards with which every company must comply.
TSA Air Cargo focuses on the following major security issues:
The threat of an explosive device being activated on a passenger aircraft
The danger of a stowaway gaining access to an aircraft
In order to eliminate these risks, shipping and transportation companies are vetted, the cargo is then screened by air carriers and random and targeted secondary screening is employed to identify high-risk cargo. However, due to increasing threat levels the TSA has implemented new legislation to increase the security of this system.
As of August 2010 the new legislation now requires 100% of outbound cargo shipped by passenger aircraft to be screened against explosive devices at a level of security equal to that of passenger checked baggage. In practice, this involves the screening of individual pieces of cargo before they are loaded onto passenger aircraft. To this end, the Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP) is certifying certain facilities to be responsible for this screening and to maintain a level of security throughout the process which complies with TSA standards.
There are two factors which play an important part in creating and maintaining this security, being the use of tamper proof technologies and a strict chain of custody. Immediately after screening, the approved facility (or CCSF) must use TSA-approved tamper proof technology, usually tape, to seal the cargo at piece level. This kind of tamper proof tape leaves an obvious residue on the box if the tape is removed, which identifies it as screened and shows evidence of any attempt to tamper with the package. After application of such materials, the box is sent to the next stage of the process with a certificate proving that it has been screened and is from a TSA-recognised CCSF. The box progresses to the next point in this chain of custody under close supervision to ensure that the cargo is accounted for and the tamper proof tape is not broken from the point of screening until the moment the plane leaves the ground.
Similar requirements of 100% screening are also being implemented for inbound cargo from December 2011.
For more information on tamper proof tape or air cargo legislation, please visit: