TSA unveils new air cargo security requirements
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced new security requirements for air cargo that include criminal background checks for more than 100,000 airline and freight workers and screeners who check packages delivered to airport ticket counters.
TSA also says it will use more bomb-sniffing dogs to screen freight that is shipped by plane and that it will soon finish hiring 300 new air cargo inspectors, which Congress included in the agency’s budget this year.
“It’s a lot about background checks and security plans,” TSA chief Kip Hawley says.
Cargo pilots have long complained that the government focuses most of its efforts on protecting passenger airliners from terrorist attacks, leaving cargo planes vulnerable, The Associated Press reports. They point out that cargo planes could also be seized by terrorists and used as weapons.
The TSA’s long-awaited plan — it was originally proposed in November 2004 — includes new regulations for restricting access to sections of airports used for loading and unloading cargo.
It also requires the employees of more than 4,000 freight forwarders — agents who accept packages and arrange shipment — to attend security training courses designed by the TSA. Freight forwarders will have to develop security plans and have them approved by the government.
The new requirement is supplemented by such changes as surprise visits by air cargo inspectors and daily checks against terrorist watch lists of airport workers with access to sensitive sections of airports, Hawley says.
The TSA adds that it will consolidate 4,000 Known Shipper lists into one so it can keep closer track of companies that ship cargo on passenger planes.