Air cargo security

Air Cargo

While air cargo security issues came to prominence in 2010 after two explosive devices were discovered on freight aircraft in Dubai and the UK disguised inside ink cartridges shipped from Yemen to the US, there is a long history of related incidents. These incidents provide clear examples of how existing risk management capabilities and detection technologies may fail and have raised transport security high on the EU’s agenda1. The EU’s aims include further consolidation and strengthening of policy, legislation and monitoring of air cargo security including cooperation with major international partners. It is evident that security breaches in any airport across the world could lead to an explosion mid-air or at a different airport, making the international dimension intrinsic to the problem. Global air cargo security regulation has in general been driven by developments in the United States. The USA legislation has had global implications and has driven requirements in air cargo security. The European Commission has adopted a layered approach which takes also into account the requirements from the USA. The “Known Shipper Programme” (and validation/vetting of agents and operators) form the base of the EU layered security concept. Further layers for air cargo inspection, screening and control requirements, as well as air cargo facility security measures, create a comprehensive security approach. Recent changes in the EU customs approach to air cargo security create additional harmonisation challenges. The joint statement on supply-chain security by EU and USA3 points to ‘international cooperation for ensuring policy coherence, establishing compatibility of national systems and reducing costs." Momentum towards international co-operation and harmonisation of approaches is gathering pace. Importantly the joint statement advocates “facilitation and expedition of the smooth flow of legitimate international trade through the use of multi-layered risk management tools” Specific actions to improve air cargo security measures are spearheaded by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)4 who have formed a joint "Technical Experts Group on Air Cargo Security" to analyze issues including electronic advance data on shipments, information sharing and "risk management." In the EU, DG-HOME is working with DG-MOVE to establish data elements for air cargo shipment screening and is proposing to utilise the DG-TAXUD pre- arrival screening mechanism updated with new air cargo threat assessment rules. Further the EU Detection Technology Project Group is working on the minimum set of detection technology and equipment required to perform custom controls for the different commodities and transport modes in the most effective and efficient way.