Cargo Blues

July 1, 2004

June/July 2004

According to the FAA Aerospace Forecasts, Executive Summary, just two months after the September 11th attacks, the FAA issued a new security directive to strengthen security standards for transporting cargo on passenger flights. Additional security measures were instituted in November 2003 that affected passenger and all-cargo flights alike. One would think that with a tightening of security, increasing rules, regulations and check-points that air cargo transport would continue to be struggling with a negative growth as they did in 2002. In fact, the U.S. cargo activity has seen a rather strong rebound. Could it be that the security measures taken were a band-aid approach to an extremely complex problem? Some would say yes. An investigation launched by a television station in Indianapolis revealed a "gaping hole" in homeland security and that air cargo security measures remain largely unchanged across the country since 9/11. The Aviation Transportation Security Act now requires the screening of all property carried aboard commercial passenger planes, including mail, cargo and baggage. But air cargo on passenger planes, remains almost entirely unscreened. Both the airlines and the government claim they don't have the technology or the time to scan all air cargo, but sources say it's the money they don't want to spend. And recently, a cargo worker for a major cargo handling company who refused to search for bombs because she felt under prepared was fired. If I was asked to be a bomb detector and given a tiny knife with only two hours training to open boxes, I would say no too! Though it is certainly a complex situation that will require comprehensive planning on the part of many, including the FAA, TSA, airlines and cargo handlers alike, air cargo security cannot be put on the back burner any longer and the responsibility of screening should not be put in the hands of the cargo handlers. Congresswoman Julia Carson states it best when she says, "We've long been concerned about it (air cargo security), but we can't get appropriations through the transportation appropriations committee. I'm not being political when I say this: We're spending billions for the Iraqi conflict and leaving a lot of domestic needs unfounded. The country's leadership flies around on Air Force One and military planes. What do they know about it? We need (air cargo funding) desperately, I wish we could get their attention."

On a lighter note, we are excited about a new (but subtle) look we have given the magazine. Hope you like it too.

Thanks for reading.