The world changed on Sept. 11, 2001.
I’ve heard that trite phrasing, “the world changed” — a massive understatement if there ever was one — countless times in the past 10 years. But it’s true that after that day — a day when two hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center towers in New York City, a third hit
the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a fourth, on what most suspect was a route to another government building, crashed in rural Pennsylvania — the way we look at aviation, security and the world in general had been irreversibly altered.
I’m relatively new to the air-cargo arena, so I have no first-hand experience of what it was like to work in the industry before Sept. 11. But I have experienced the lasting effects; there is now a legacy of tight security in aviation.
Whenever this security hits a snag, like the Yemenese bomb plot from last October, the same feelings that welled up in fall 2001 come back. Are we truly safe? Can we ever be safe? As Steve Vinsik of Unisys puts it in his First Look column this month, the Yemenese bomb plot let us know that people are still out there using planes as weapons. “For the first time since 9/11, air cargo had been used for terrorist purposes,” he writes. “The theoretical had become a lot more real.”
The events of Sept. 11 were an attack on U.S. soil, but in subsequent foiled attempts, we learned that nobody around the globe was immune to the poison of terrorism. The Transportation Security Administration and other organizations around the world are constantly striving to guarantee the safety of airfreight and the men and women who transport cargo.
Last month, we reported about the TSA’s proposed screening deadline for all U.S.-bound cargo. Though it’s not a perfect situation, this plan has been proposed with the best intentions. Carriers, forwarders and shippers have been complaining that the screening guidelines are too broad — that the organization needs a risk-based proposal. Disagreements are fine, as long as ideas like these continue to be discussed.
The TSA is also confronting security with sniffer dogs, a program we explore in our second First Look this month. We came across the story as we stood in Delta’s international cargo warehouse at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, watching a dog sniff through a few rows of goods waiting to be processed. While canines alone are not a foolproof security barrier, when used with other resources, they are an invaluable resource.
As I said, I have no first-hand cargo experiences from Sept. 11, but I’m sure some of you do. Please use the comments section below to share some of your reflections. Better yet, send me a short note. You can always get in touch with me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by commenting at Air Cargo World’s Facebook page or by sending @ACWmagazine a Tweet.
— Jon Ross is the editor of Air Cargo World.