The events over the past couple of days in which cargo shipments, originating in Yemen, were found to contain explosive devices, which could have brought down airplanes, have further highlighted the importance of checking cargo.
As reported in the article, Mail Bombs Highlight Flaws in Systems for Screening Air Freight, in today's Boston Globe: "If you talk to anybody senior at airports, they will tell you freight is the weak link in the chain." This quote by Chris Yates, an aviation security specialist, is literally on target.
As for the facts reported in the article:
- Approximately 60 percent of all cargo coming into the United States is on passenger planes with the remainder of about 40 percent arriving on cargo planes.
- About 50,000 tons of cargo is shipped by air within the United States every day, with approximately 25 percent of that shipped by passenger airlines.
One particular vulnerability in the system: Trusted companies that regularly do business with freight shippers are allowed to ship parcels as “secure’’ cargo that is not automatically subjected to further checks.
Read the terrific article in the Boston Globe by Gregory Katz and ponder what else besides the passengers and crew may be on that plane with you as you circle the globe.