TSA Steps up Pressure on the U.S. Freighter Aircraft Security Programme

The economic issues facing the air cargo industry during the past six months tended to put new planned security regulations somewhat on the backburner.
There was little mention during the second half of 2014 on the issues at hand and the United States Transport Security Administration (TSA) demands for implementation of new updates for their Security Programme.

TIACA’s Douglas Brittin
TIACA’s Douglas Brittin

The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) has last week advised its members that the TSA managers are insisting that the updates for the Security Programme be implemented by latest February 16th of this year.

Too little time to change?
The programme which applies to all U.S. and non U.S. based freighter aircraft operators within, into and out of the USA, incorporates structural changes and earlier emergency amendments as well as changes in compliance procedures.

The above has been a topic of discussion between TSA, TIACA and carriers for some time now.
The recent updates were only notified to the industry on December 29th of last year.
Now - The TSA is insisting on full implementation by February 16th.
A time span of less than two months.
Is this realistic?
TIACA's Secretary General, Doug Brittin does not think so. He states that “the timing of the announcement over the holiday season, and the short implementation period are not ideal.” He also adds that “while the updates incorporate some ideas which the industry has worked on with the TSA, they do not address the risk-based approach, which we have discussed (with them) and fully supported.”

It’s not just a matter for the freighter operators.
Although the updated regulations are aimed at freighter aircraft operating through U.S. airspace and airports, it should be noted that freight agents handing over cargo to such operators as well as passenger carriers who transfer cargo to “all-freighter flights,” should wise up on the new regulations as well.

The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) allows that all-cargo/freighter operators can notify their regional TSA representative with regards to any part of the programme changes that they feel they cannot put into effect by February 16th. This poses a challenge for the operators due to the very short implementation time laid down by the TSA.

Risk based or ‘one-size-fits-all’ compliance?
TIACA is urging its members to try and implement the changes where necessary, as soon as possible in order to sidestep any compliance issues.
Doug Brittin and his team are certainly not happy with this “five minutes before twelve” change. However, he adds that “TIACA will continue to work closely with the TSA on these and other security issues, with the goal of building a risk-based rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to global air cargo security.
The TIACA manager would prefer to see the TSA reinstating an air cargo division to ensure an even closer working relationship with the industry.
This, indeed would be beneficial for all and would certainly go some way to ensuring a better and easier understanding of compliances all round.

John Mc Donagh

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