As of August 1, 2010, air cargo in the United States that is not screened will not be transported on a passenger aircraft.
This recommendation, which originated from the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the U.S., will finally come to fruition, nearly nine years after 9/11.
As the Commission pointed out in its final report in 2004, "major vulnerabilities still exist in cargo and continue to present aviation security challenges"
In 2007, Congress took the recommendation to heart and passed the 9/11 Commission Act, which mandated that all cargo transported on a passenger aircraft be screened for explosives.
For the private sector, this governmental regulation will have a long-lasting impact.
Air carriers transport billions of tons of cargo each year. Most airlines are dependent on cargo transport, which carries, on average, much higher profits than passenger traffic, accounting for approximately 18% of total revenue.
Further, despite the current economic downturn, worldwide air cargo is expected to continuously increase and reach 518.7 billion RTKs annually by 2023. (An RTK is when one ton of payload capacity is flown one kilometer).
In 2007, the global number of RTKs was 193.7 billion.
For more and more companies, air cargo is becoming an invaluable part of their supply chain. And, so it seems, will be the case well into the foreseeable future.
Let's hope the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security get cargo screening right, and that we are able to reduce the risk to system and avoid any substantial disruptions. :)