Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
This paper provides information into the lack of aviation security with regard to cargo transported on passenger aircraft. Passengers and their luggage traveling on aircraft are subject to screening, security searches and body scanning prior to boarding. However, the cargo loaded may not have been inspected, allowing for potential security vulnerabilities to be exploited. Currently international flights do not receive the same caliber of cargo inspection as domestic flights. There are too many holes in the global supply chain but one area that we need to focus on is cargo security. The TSA has implemented layered security for all flights arriving in the U.S. but foreign countries do not impose such aggressive tactics. Passenger aircraft are used to transport cargo for freight entities like UPS or FedEx as a means to assist with delivery efficiency. Measures must be implemented on an international level that prevents improvised devices from being placed on U.S. bound passenger aircraft. Keywords: Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP), Certified Cargo Screening Facilities (CCSF), vulnerabilities
Transportation of Cargo on Passenger Aircraft
Many of us travel by air and undergo long waits in airport ticketing, security, and boarding lines. Instructions are given to passengers on what is permitted to bring and how to pack. Our luggage is x-rayed and sometimes further inspected for suspicious items. However, while our luggage is subject to inspection, the cargo contents onboard may not have been verified. Further concern is the aircraft’s current cargo could have originated from a foreign country that did not inspect the cargo content. Maybe the cargo was processed through a known shipper but that does not guarantee the cargo is safe. In August 2010, a printer bomb plot was discovered aboard a cargo aircraft bound for Chicago. A glaring concern was the bombs had been transported in the belly of a passenger aircraft (Mazzetti, Worth & Lipton, 2010). How does the U.S. ensure cargo being imported receives appropriate inspections prior to loading on a passenger aircraft, and is there vulnerabilities in the process? Some facts and assumptions provided demonstrate security concerns while maintaining the need to utilize passenger aircraft for cargo movement. Key concerns such as cargo failing to be inspected prior to loading on a passenger aircraft. However, freight companies rely on passenger aircraft to transport cargo to increase delivery efficiency. These concerns have primary stakeholders who have obligations and stakes. Finally, the government has mandated the TSA implement 100% screening of cargo on passenger aircraft. The TSA has established security programs such as, CCSP and CCSF in an attempt to comply. This paper will discuss the feasibility of these programs and offer some recommendations to mitigate vulnerabilities in aviation security.
Facts and Assumptions
When traveling by air, passengers assume that the cargo beneath their feet had been inspected just like their luggage. After reading TSA reports, this author was surprised and concerned that some cargo is never inspected. This problem is significantly increased when aircraft originate from outside the U.S. with cargo onboard. Time Magazine cited a TSA source saying there is approximately, “7.3 billion pounds of cargo transported on U.S. passenger flights annually, about 42% travels on flights arriving on American soil from foreign destinations” (Calabresi, 2010). Since there are not enough TSA agents assigned internationally, the U.S. uses foreign inspectors or trusted agents at international airports. A story reported by the LA Times stated the TSA inspects incoming foreign packages using a network of government-certified private screeners and companies as well as its...