July 30 2012
Air cargo screening technologies race to meet TSA deadline for compliance
AIR cargo screening devices are lagging behind in the race to meet the American 100 per cent screening mandate on all cargo bound for the United States on passenger flights from December 3.
The screening technologist listed by us Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are grouped into four categories of X-ray, explosives detection systems, explosives trace detection and metal detection in order to create "a relatively straightforward process" for screening high-risk shipments, said TSA spokesman Jim Fotenos.
But equipment supplies for such approved technologies are tight and designed more for baggage than cargo with costs looming as a real problem, said DHL Express Americas vice president Daniel Gomez.
Despite the TSA taking steps to work with security programmes, it needs to go one step further with regulators, carriers and manufacturers to create cost-effective cargo screening, Mr Gomez said.
The air cargo industry could do well to take a leaf out of maritime sector's layered approach to security combining data and screening systems towards "an integrated piece of the cargo puzzle, rather than a standalone, separate system," said Rapiscan Systems head Andrew Goldsmith, reported Air Cargo World of Roswell, Georgia.
Screening technology systems from Morpho Detection and Rapiscan Systems aim to detect threat by using trace detection rather than solely relying on an X-ray system and use high-energy X-ray or vapour collection.
Morpho's head of global strategy and technology Jay Hill said future technologies of most interest are those that allow for screening of mixed bulk pallets rather than piece-meal.
"But these developments will require strong collaboration between the public and private sector to ensure optimal utilisation and efficiencies," said Mr Hill.
Rapiscan Systems' Mr Goldsmith said that regardless of advanced screening technologies usability is key for operators and if the private sector can't afford it there isn't much point. He predicted an uptake ahead of the December deadline of outsourcing of screening already provided by Rapiscan in Puerto Rico and Mexico.
Currently low cost technologies include high-tech X-ray systems but Mr Goldsmith sees great potential in materials discrimination for speeding up screening of bulk by analysing chemical makeup of freight against manifest details as is done currently by density checks, but with heightened detection of narcotics or other threats.