The US Transportation Security Administration has set a new December deadline for 100% screening of cargo on international flights arriving in the United States.
From 3 December, 2012, all cargo shipments loaded on passenger aircraft bound for the US must be screened for explosives.
The TSA said on Wednesday that the new requirement would build more “risk-based, intelligence-driven” procedures into the prescreening process, leveling screening protocols down to a per-shipment basis.
The process meant that shipments deemed to be higher risk will have a higher level of screening requirements.
TSA Administrator John S Pistole said: “Harmonising security efforts with our international and industry partners is a vital step in securing the global supply chain.
“By making greater use of intelligence, TSA can strengthen screening processes and ensure the screening of all cargo shipments without impeding the flow of commerce,” said the TSA Administrator.
The 100 screening mandate implements requirements of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, but TSA had originally intended a deadline for the end of December 2011. The new deadline was pushed back in response to industry concerns about preparations being in place in time.
The screening requirement means cargo has to be screened at the piece level prior to boarding a passenger aircraft flying to the US.
A 100% screening mandate for cargo on flights originating in the US has been in place since August 2010, since when the industry in the US has generally coped with the requirements, partly helped by the TSA’s Certified Cargo Screening Programme (CCSP).
The CCSP allows freight forwarders and shippers to pre-screen cargo prior to arrival at an airport if it is carried out in the secure environment of a certified CCSP screening site.
The TSA has more than 500 inspectors around the US to ensure that certified CCSP facilities maintain their secure chain of custody requirements. It said on Wednesday that it also has a team of 100 inspectors to monitor security measures at foreign airports.
Meanwhile, the federal agency said it would continue to work with other governments and international organisations, as well as industry partners, to further strengthen air cargo security.