Lack Of Equipment, Inspectors May Prevent Full Screening By
An ambitious plan by the Transportation Security Administration
to screen all 7.6 billion pounds of cargo transported annually on
passenger airliners may come up short, according to a Government
Accountability Office study.
USA Today reports the GAO found -- not all that surprisingly --
that TSA may not have enough equipment or personnel on hand to meet
the August 2010 Congressional deadline to screen all cargo
transported in the bellies of airliners for explosives.
The TSA and cargo groups "face a number of challenges in meeting
the screening mandate," reads the report, to be presented at a
House subcommittee hearing Wednesday.
All passenger luggage has been screened for explosives since
2002... but air cargo has largely slipped through the cracks, due
to the lack of suitable equipment and sufficient manpower to screen
all manner of airborne cargo.
The TSA's plan calls for the burden for most cargo screening to
fall on the individual shippers themselves, with federal inspectors
overseeing the process. So far, it appears the TSA will fall well
short of the required number of inspectors for the August 2010
deadline; TSA spokesman Greg Soule says the Department of Homeland
Security "is committed to staffing the most effective inspector
A bigger problem -- literally -- lies in the lack of equipment
needed to scan the large cargo containers used in the belly holds
of widebody airliners.
Packages loaded onto smaller narrowbody planes (anything from
perishable flowers and food items, cancelled bank checks and
Federal Reserve notes, computers, auto parts... the list goes on)
can be screened by equipment similar to scanners used for
luggage... but the equipment doesn't exist that can screen a
package longer than 10 feet, or numerous smaller items loaded into
a single large cargo container destined for the cargo hold of a 747
As it stands now, packages loaded into such large containers
will need to be removed, screened individually, then repacked...
creating a monstrous bottleneck in the process, according to
Brandon Fried, executive director of the Airforwarders