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Air cargo industry calls for security harmonization

By Adina Solomon on March 14, 2014
tagged wcs, rapiscan, tiaca

A panel talks about security concerns and regulations in the air cargo industry.

Security will always be a topic of conversation in the air cargo industry, Oliver Evans said Thursday at the World Cargo Symposium’s Security track.

“This subject is and remains one of the most important in our industry,” said Evans, Swiss International Air Lines chief cargo officer.

Doug Brittin, secretary general of The International Air Cargo Association, said the air cargo industry has had to respond to many security issues over the years, naming advanced data as a prominent topic for the near future.

“It’s amazing the resilience and flexibility of the industry to adapt,” Brittin said.

Carolina Ramirez-Taborda, head secure freight at IATA, said there is increasing mutual recognition between various regimes.

“Yet we have seen this is not a perfect system,” she said.

An upcoming International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) amendment addresses how a screening method must be chosen according to the nature of the consignment, said Helena Hallauer of the ICAO’s security and facility policy section.

This amendment will become applicable in October, she said.

Debra Henninger, section chief cargo compliance at the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), talked about various TSA programs and regulations for airfreight, including Air Cargo Advance Screening and the National Explosives Detection Canine Security Program.

“It is a continuous conversation and continuous dialogue in regard to security measures,” Henninger said.

She said the TSA is also trying to improve its efforts to harmonize rules with other countries’ regimes.

Harmonization and common standards were mentioned frequently during the track. Hallauer said the prerequisites for harmonization are agreeing on key principles for air cargo security, defining minimum baseline requirements and agreeing on “common language,” as she called it.

There are a lot of regulations for companies to keep track of, said Jim McCaffrey, IAG Cargo’s vice president global security.

“We have to find a way to simplify them and use common terms,” he said.

For instance, different players in the industry have their own definitions of what a trusted source is.

When an audience member asked about making security documents electronic, Hallauer said ICAO is cooperating with international organizations to further technology, but it still has to keep non-electronic doors open.

“We need to be mindful that there are possibilities for those that maybe aren’t up to technology standards,” she explained.

Ruth Anne Stoll, vice president of Rapiscan Systems, talked about the technology aspect of airfreight security.

“We don’t want technology to impede the business but enhance it,” she said. “We understand it’s an economic burden on the business.”

The Airport Consultants Council’s Security Manufacturers Coalition, which Rapiscan is part of, also wants standardization of security, Stoll said.

“For us to develop an algorithm for one country and then another country, it uses more resources and costs more,” she said.

It also makes time to market longer for new technology, Stoll said, since Rapiscan has to test for multiple locations instead of a single standard.

Steve Wolff, president of Wolff Consulting Services, said multiple technologies should complement each other in order to have effective security.

“You don’t need to have a silver bullet,” Wolff said.

Training is another aspect of security.

“Computer-based training can be a very powerful tool,” said Sten Michael, research scientist and project manager at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland.

Companies also need to engage in some education by sharing their security measures with each other, McCaffrey said.

“If we don’t share it and we don’t know what we’re doing, we’re not going to have that confidence that as cargo moves through the supply chain, that all secure steps have been taken,” he said.