Regulating an industry: TSA's push for total cargo screening
Either way, Vertannes believes open dialogue is key when approaching the proposed TSA deadline. What’s more, he says, IATA is in ongoing talks with the ICAO about how to best
address the new standards and eliminate any barriers to compliance. “And it falls in their and the industry’s best interest to ensure that all stakeholders can comply in order to ensure the free flow of global commerce,” Vertannes says.
Steen agrees. To eliminate barriers to the universal adoption of the TSA’s standards, TIACA has stayed in close communication with the U.S. agency, he says. TIACA also received some promising news in April at its Executive Summit and Annual General Meeting in Bangkok: The TSA said it better understood the challenges of meeting a December 31 deadline and was carefully contemplating its next steps.
Although encouraged by this development, Steen hopes the agency truly follows through on it. In addition to extending the deadline, he urges the TSA to devise practical methods for fulfilling the 100-percent screening directive. After all, he explains, doing so will improve the process tremendously.
“And the industry and regulators all share the same goal: enhancing security while minimizing the disruption to vital commercial flows,” he says. “Both sides recognize the importance of working together to achieve this goal.”
Still, Steen’s concerned about the lack of advanced screening technologies. The biggest improvement TIACA anticipates, he says, is equipment geared specifically to the airfreight environment. “It’s frustrating that, a decade after 9/11, we still don’t have approved equipment capable of screening most consolidated shipments,” Steen maintains.
Another issue that is up in the air is whether all cargo transported on freighters will be subject to 100-percent screening. To Radiant Logistics’ Bohn Crain, it’s a no-brainer. He believes the TSA should regulate passenger and cargo planes similarly, as both types of aircraft present security risks to the American people.
Nevertheless, Crain understands the challenges of this task and supports a risk-based, multilayered approach to screening. He also touts the importance of adapting to threats in the supply chain as they arise. “This by no means implies that we wait for threats to evolve, but instead to self-audit and evaluate internally areas that may need to be improved as the risk matrix changes,” he explains.
Vertannes concurs. To him, it’s all about determining which methods work best, and then assessing them regularly. Moreover, he says, “Cargo security has a good track record, but like all areas of transport, its rules and regulations continue to require review and enhancement in order to stay one step ahead of a committed perpetrator.”