Feb 13, 2015

TSA demands updated safety rules for freighter planes to/from the U.S.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the Department of Homeland Security, will strengthen its security program for freighter planes departing from and arriving at U.S. airports by Feb. 16.

On Dec. 29, 2014, the TSA notified the relevant airline companies and other parties that it would update its security program for freighter planes that depart from or arrive in the U.S. or pass through the country, by Feb. 16.

In response to the fact that the notice period for the airlines was during the year-end holidays and the preparation time allowed was extremely short, the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) made a declaration in the middle of January arguing that the notice was unrealistic. The new rules will apply to freighters operating in U.S. airspace or airports. In an environment of crowded airspace for planes bound for the U.S., the time period coincides with last minute rush before the lunar new year holiday (Feb. 18 to 24) in the Chinese-speaking world, and so appears likely to lead to confusion.

Security matters are also involved, and the TSA and TIACA are not disclosing the details of the new regulations, but a TIACA official says, "While it formalizes the current urgent response and structural changes in security instructions, the program demands a number of changes in corporate compliance."

However, insiders say that while it appears that clear penalties have not been created, it is likely that first a transition period will be established and thereafter U.S. authorities will embark on full-blown enforcement of the new security program.

According to TIACA's statement, the TSA's updated security program applies to all cargo planes to/from U.S. airports, including domestic flights, regardless of the nationality of the airline company. The new program is also expected to affect the work of freight forwarders.

TIACA Secretary General Doug Brittin criticized the TSA, saying, "Getting the notice in the middle of a the holidays with little time before execution, it is not an ideal situation."

"Despite the content of the update affecting the entire industry, the TSA is not taking a risk-based approach of giving us full-scale cooperation while holding discussions with us," he said.

On the other hand, he reaffirmed a basic policy of the organization, saying, "TIACA will continue to cooperate closely with the TSA while formulating risk-based international cargo security standards."

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