A new day for global air cargo security
Differences exist, however, between the various programs, especially since air cargo screening can use a variety of sources to evaluate risk, such as intelligence and documentation, as well as physical screening.
“These differences can make it difficult to develop standardized processes in some situations, and can make policy/procedure manuals lengthy,” Duiser says.
As a result, Delta has invested much time making sure that its teams around the globe have clearly defined and well-documented procedures, and that the carrier has processes in place to monitor and ensure compliance. In addition, Delta’s SkyTeam Cargo alliance affords the carrier the opportunity to establish consistent processes and adopt best practices.
“One of SkyTeam Cargo’s key initiatives is a ‘one roof concept,’ where we share common facilities,” Duiser explains. “Wherever SkyTeam carriers are co-located it enables us to cooperate on screening and security measures.”
While there may be procedural differences, particularly at point-of-origin, many in the industry contend that by mutually recognizing the programs, a host of complications have been removed such as having to re-do security measures at transfer or perform two different security processes at origin to meet the requirements of the regulatory authority at each end of the flight.
In fact, some executives, such as United Cargo’s Anderson, see the data-driven process to evaluate risk levels as an additional layer of security that complements, but does not replace physical screening.
“More governments around the world are now sharing their shipper-related data, and their security protocols are becoming more harmonious,” he says. “This has the dual benefit of enhancing security while allowing air cargo to more effectively contribute to the world’s economic growth.”
Particularly noteworthy is the February 2012 rule-based security measure implemented by the EU that regards inbound flights that addresses similar concerns as the U.S. rules for inbound cargo originating from countries without a recognized program.
“In essence, the rule states that each carrier serving EU must be Air Cargo Carrier Third-Country (ACC3) approved by one of the EU national civil aviation bodies upon presentation of its cargo security program in place at every third country departure airport,” explained Jean-Luc Servant, head of regulatory and industry affairs, AirFrance Cargo.
On top of that, as of July 2014, each carrier must have its cargo security program inspected and approved by independent validators at every third country departure airport, except for those countries listed on the EU green list. “Additionally, cargo originating from countries listed on the EU red list must receive dual screening using two different means of inspection,” Servant says.
ACAS Program and Initiatives
Of particular concern among air cargo executives and forwarders, is the lack of progress in certifying foreign country air cargo security programs. Even now, not all requirements and systems worldwide are aligned with international standards. Some countries in Asia are particularly lagging, although the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is moving to advance initiatives.
Consequently, organizations throughout the air cargo industry are calling for broad participation in the Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS), an ongoing pilot program underway in the United States that is intended to further harmonize and align security requirements to protect the industry’s critical objectives: speed and customer responsiveness.
“There are a number of present and future benefits to the ACAS program,” United Cargo’s Anderson says. “It uses existing data to provide an additional layer of security to effectively target higher-risk shipments. And we benefit from processes that lead to safer skies. This targeting has the added advantage of occurring at an earlier stage of the supply chain.”
Delta’s Duiser adds that risk-based screening is the direction in which the industry needs to go.
“Treating all shipments the same from a screening standpoint is not an effective or efficient use of resources,” he says.