TSA to evaluate explosives detection technologies to enhance air cargo security

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National Press Release
Tuesday, August 24, 2004

WASHINGTON – In an effort to enhance inspection of break-bulk air cargo, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), this week began an Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) of explosives detection devices at several commercial air cargo-handling facilities.

Testing began this week at three airports including, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL), Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), and Miami International Airport (MIA). TSA will expand the program to include air cargo facilities at Ted Steven Anchorage International Airport (ANC), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) in the near future.

"A key component of TSA's risk-based threat-managed approach to air cargo security is our ability to utilize the latest technologies to screen higher risk cargo," stated Rear Adm. David M. Stone, USN (Ret.), Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Transportation Security Administration. "This test further enhances our security regime at these crucial shipping hubs and takes us one step closer to our goal of screening 100 percent of higher risk goods."

During the two-month evaluation, TSA will analyze the use of Explosives Detection Systems, currently used in airports to screen checked bags, for screening break-bulk cargo. Break-bulk cargo, so named for non-palletized items that could later be consolidated on a pallet or in a container, commonly consists of lightweight manufactured components, individual packages and small parcels.

The OT&E is one of many initiatives included in TSA's Air Cargo Strategic Plan. The plan outlines steps the agency will take to achieve its goal of screening 100 percent of higher-risk cargo. Initiatives already in place include an enhanced Known-Shipper Database that allows TSA to determine risk, random inspections of foreign and domestic cargo, and an investment of $55 million in fiscal year 2004 to research new technologies.

TSA purchased the explosives screening equipment for use by Alaska, American, Delta and United Airlines.