TSA moves up schedule for 100% inbound screening

Airlines and air cargo supply chain companies are facing a race against time, after the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on 17 January brought forward its deadline for screening 100 per cent of inbound air freight carried on passenger aircraft. As of 1 August 2010, all cargo transported on domestic and international passenger aircraft originating […]


Airlines and air cargo supply chain companies are facing a race against time, after the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on 17 January brought forward its deadline for screening 100 per cent of inbound air freight carried on passenger aircraft. As of 1 August 2010, all cargo transported on domestic and international passenger aircraft originating in the US had to be screened for explosives, but the TSA has stated in congressional testimony that 2013 was the earliest realistic deadline for screening 100 per cent of international inbound freight. However, the TSA has alerted airlines and their supply chain partners that 100 percent screening of international inbound cargo will be required by the end of 2011. The impetus for this move came from the attempted parcel bombing claimed by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in October 2010, and intelligence made public by the TSA in January indicates that AQAP also tried to assemble a bomb using triacetone triperoxide (TATP) packed around the cylinder of an insulated drinking mug or thermos. Both the earlier ‘shoe bomber’ and ‘underwear bomber’had concealed bombs made from the same substance. Airlines have up to 45 days to comment on the new 100 per cent inbound requirement. The TSA stated that it will review and evaluate industry comments before it finalises its requirements. There appear to be considerable barriers to meeting this deadline. A report in July 2010 from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that only 55 per cent of air cargo on inbound international passenger flights would be screened at certified screening facilities by August. From 1 May 2010, the TSA raised the threshold for cargo to be screened before loading aboard passenger aircraft inbound to the US, but the agency did not stipulate 100 per cent screening, mindful perhaps of the practical difficulties involved.