Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bomb Plot Sparks Reformation of Cargo Security on Freight and Passenger Aircraft

Ever More Stringent Regulations Being Introduced
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE - The incident involving bombs carried in the belly holds of scheduled passenger aircraft which caused such a media frenzy in 2010 as the public awoke to the practice of shipping freight by this method has had important consequences for all involved in the international air cargo supply chain.

At the time the International Air Transport Association (IATA) declared it would work with EU regulators and aid carriers with the ‘Air Cargo or Mail Carrier operating into the Union from a Third Country Airport’ (ACC3) status, which they require in order to carry freight or mail into the EU zone from any other international location. This week IATA has produced an update on the forthcoming regulations which it seems will see ever more stringent security standards applicable.

The first official upgrade of security occurred in August 2011 when the EU adopted harsher regulations to ensure that prior to loading an aircraft with cargo or mail air carriers bore responsibility for certain improved minimum checks. These changes came into effect in February 2012 and were deliberately targeted at operators as opposed to foreign states.

The US was already prepared to move against individual operators as evidenced by the sanctions imposed in January 2011 against Activair, an OHL company and in June of that year the British Government instituted a ban on UPS following security issues concerning the screening of air cargo. IATA says it is working closely with regulators and will assist air carriers to meet their ACC3 obligations by providing information, pre-assessment tools and expert advice.

In order to obtain ACC3 status, the air carrier must deliver a “Declaration of Commitments” setting out how they have fulfilled their aviation security responsibilities to the civil aviation authorities of an EU Member State to whom they fly cargo and/or mail. The EU Member State receiving the Declaration of Commitments is referred to as the ‘Member State of Reference’ and the Declaration must cover every non-EU airport from which cargo or mail is flown to the EU.

The only exception to this rule is when cargo or mail emanates directly from a ‘Green’ listed country; that is a state set down in the ‘Green’ list shown in the regulations (available to air carriers on request to their EU Member State of Reference) when the carrier may exempt those airports from their Declaration of Commitments, in accordance with the EU regulations.

A Consignment Security Declaration issued by the ACC3 evidences that the security chain remains unbroken and cargo has only been routed directly from a secure source and until the 30th June 2014 the security standards foreseen by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as a minimum must apply. From the 1 July 2014, the EU regulations state that ACC3’s must be in possession of security verifications of their cargo and mail operations at the relevant non-EU airports. This verification activity must be undertaken by an Independent Validator, certified by an EU regulator.

If the ACC3 wishes to have the security controls applied by a business partner such as Known Consignors, Regulated Agents or Ground Handlers at non-EU airports then these entities must also have their operations undergo independent validation. The current estimate is that 700 ACC3 airport operations will need independent validation by 30th June 2014 and a further 2,700 ACC3 airport operations up to 30th June 2019. Each independent validation will have to be redone on a five-year cycle.

Photo: An XIS – 100XD cargo scanner from Astrophysics Inc.