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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 20 No. 8
Tuesday March 2, 2021
Charlie In a Box & 100% Screening
Amazon Prime Air

     After the air cargo security measures were put into place after 9/11, most of the security measures for 100% screening were placed on the flights carrying passengers and cargo. Almost 20 years later, measures are moving forward under new TSA regulations that will require 100% screening on international freighter flights departing the United States.

All Cargo Plus One

     The U.S. security measures on freighters have been more concerned about keeping people off the main deck that might be able to overtake the cockpit crew.

Charlie Shipped Himself Air Cargo

Charles McKinney E-tu CharlieCharlie the stowaway flew aboard a Kitty Hawk freighter in 2003 and got the ball rolling. Now in 2021 TSA is laying down the law for implementation of 100% screening June 30th.

     All of this was driven by an incident when in 2003 Charles McKinney of the Bronx decided he wanted to go see his father in Dallas. Charles shipped himself rather than to buy a ticket. Charles shipped himself in a crate said to contain monitors and other computer equipment with Pilot Air Freight which used Kitty Hawk Airlines. On delivery McKinney knocked out one of the panels and startled the driver that was delivering the crate. This led TSA officials at the time to be concerned that he could have overtaken the cockpit if he had broken out during the flight.
     Although security measures were increased on freighter flights in the U.S. to ensure that the “Charles in the Box” incident would not occur again, there were still no measures put in place to screen cargo on freighter aircraft at the same level as was required of passenger aircraft.

Changes on June 30

     In June of this year new rules will change the way freighters with international cargo out of the United States will be screened. The U.S. as a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization has put in new security requirements that will require 100% screening of cargo on freighters beginning on June 30, 2021. The U.S. is part of a group of nations that are working towards the mandate, while other countries, especially in Europe, have required the mandate for several years.

Seriously to Deliriously

     Many of the big freighter operators like Atlas, FedEx and UPS are working towards meeting the new requirement. Other freighter operators seem not to be taking the new requirements quite as seriously, especially some large Asian carriers and those that provide ad hoc charter operations. Others are scrambling to meet the requirements while working with their ground handling companies now, even though the requirement first came out almost five years ago. Some carriers are asking TSA for delays in implementation, while others are very well prepared.

Industry Could Use An Extension?

     Some carriers feel that due to the impact of the COVID-19 virus and resulting financial hardships, there should be a delay in implementation. The TSA and other carriers who are prepared are saying that these carriers should have been preparing for this as the requirement had been announced pre-pandemic, almost five years ago.

Amazon Gets An Exception

     The forwarding community which uses a lot of passenger lift in normal years have been screening either through their own equipment as a certified cargo screening facility, or through other TSA approved screening facilities or by the air carrier themselves. Many feel that other shippers, whether through an integrator or all cargo freighter operator should also need to meet the new requirement.
     A segment that has been causing a lot of heartburn is third party distribution platforms, which rely on the use of large amount of air cargo lift. Amazon Prime, who is now an associate member of the Cargo Airline Association has been expanding their Washington, D.C. office with several key people from the TSA, Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security. They have also brought in security and operations personnel from airlines and integrators into the Amazon fold. All of this is an effort to build a case as to why they should be treated differently.
     In October 2020, former President of American Airlines Cargo, Kenji Hashimoto, joined Amazon as their VP of North America for their sort centers and planning. During his first week TSA Administrator David Pekoske visited the huge Amazon facility near DFW. This was not the only reason the Administrator was in the DFW area, but there was discussion about how Amazon is different in the security process.
     A new security rule is now being developed for how Amazon handles cargo. The requirements though have been under discussion for several months and many in the forwarding and airline community are concerned as to how these rules will take shape. There is again a push that maybe there should be a delay in the implementation. It seems the e-commerce rules should not apply.

And Then There Is The USPS

Post office unclaimed mail     Another area of interest has been the U.S. Postal Service meeting the requirements. As air mail has grown dramatically in the e-commerce world, the USPS has become more of a forwarder/integrator model in the way they are competing in the express world. The USPS recently issued a controversial contract on screening of first-class mail. As a government agency, the USPS has close relationships with TSA; there are some who are concerned as to how the USPS will be able to screen all the outbound international mail.
     Freighter flights are quite unique in the types of cargo they carry versus their passenger/cargo counterparts. Freighters ship large oversized cargo, special types of cargo and many more dangerous goods than the passenger flights. Many of these types of cargo will not fit in the current x-ray equipment being used. The solution that most are now moving towards are the use of canines.

Here Come The Sniffer Dogs

Security Dogs     Canines have come to the rescue and many companies believe this is the optimum solution for freighters. Canines were first used in tests for cargo in 2001 in a joint effort with the FAA, the U.S. Postal Inspection Services and United Airlines. Canines proved to be the most functional and outdid the conventional methods used for screening at that time. This is still the case today.
     Working closely with the TSA canine teams, rules were put into place allowing third party K9 teams to screen air cargo. Most have now been deeply involved for almost two years. The K9 companies knew that there would be a big demand.
     Today there are less than 10 major companies that have rolled out K9 teams. The issue now is, the clock is ticking; it takes time for the TSA to accredit and approve a private, third-party trained K9 team. However by using these companies, the time saved to screen will be invaluable to comply with the upcoming requirements.
     It seems that since the requirement was introduced 20 years ago, screening of freighters cannot be delayed any longer. It is a shame that it has taken this long to realize that freighters can be just as vulnerable as passenger aircraft. Air cargo, as we all know, has shown its value during this pandemic. The world is still a dangerous place and the air cargo industry has to keep up its guard in order to avoid being used again as a weapon or to instil fear in those that fly.

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
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