GACAG outlines air cargo security needs

Global standards and innovative technology key part of multilayered, risk-and threat-based approach to air cargo security, says Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG).

Carolina Ramirez GACAG Global Air Cargo Advisory Group IATA International Air Transport Association risk-based screening security

Viable, effective air cargo screening technologies are an essential part of a multilayered, risk- and threat-based approach to air cargo security, says a new position paper from the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG). 

While stating its support of ICAO Annex 17 and its guidance material as the baseline documents for air cargo security, GACAG encourages ICAO members to use standard international codes for screening technologies and protocols. It also urges ICAO to develop global standards and guidance referencing currently utilised screening requirements such as explosive trace detection and the use of canines, as well as protocols.

Carolina Ramirez, head, secure freight, IATA, and chair of GACAG’s Security Task Force, said: “The use of cargo screening technology should be to detect and deter acts of unlawful interference to cargo and mail to be loaded on an aircraft and to improve air cargo security. We recognise the need for a multi-layered approach to air cargo security. We advocate a risk assessment approach including advance electronic information risk assessment based on intelligence to better identify the appropriate screening methodology to be used.”

“GACAG encourages cargo screening technology manufacturers to continue to innovate and provide solutions for technical screening, including screening of Unit Load Devices (ULDs) containing different types of cargo. We believe global standards will encourage manufacturers to make the necessary investment in new technologies,” she added.

Screening technology needs to be effective, fast, reliable, automated and capable of screening different types, sizes and volumes of cargo, GACAG says. Future equipment design should also take into account the air cargo supply chain process and constraints. GACAG also promotes the development and approval of appropriate protective and tamper-evident technologies to ensure suitable cargo security solutions are available.

GACAG considers that full-flight simulation systems and cooling periods, such as holding cargo for 24 to 48 hours, are not, in themselves, acceptable screening methods for cargo unless supported by other technologies, including x-ray, explosive trace detection, and air sampling.

In the position paper, GACAG says it supports the use of variable screening methodologies beyond baseline security measures for high-risk cargo where conventional methods need to be supplemented to ensure such cargo is secure.

It also underlines the importance of training, Ramirez said: “We need standardised training on how to determine the most appropriate screening methodology to be applied for specific consignment types. Authorised operational staff must be properly trained and regularly tested on the correct and effective use of screening technologies and there must be a hierarchical structure of management support.”