Boeing Frontiers
November 2003
Volume 02, Issue 07
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Industry Wrap

Boston airport begins cargo screening

Boston Logan International Airport last month began a test to screen cargo electronically on passenger planes in a bid to seal what many regard as a critical vulnerability in the nation's aviation security.

According to United Press International, the initial 30-day stage of the pilot project will use a self-contained mobile X-ray machine to screen cargo trucks. Logan Airport was the staging point for two of the airplanes hijacked in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

L-3 Communications Security and Detection Systems, based in Woburn, Mass, will provide the equipment and its three-member crew free. At the end of the 30 days, the pilot project will switch to test other types of screening equipment, such as the kinds of explosive detection systems now used to screen checked passenger baggage.

"This is an open-ended test program," said Jose Juves, spokesman for Massachusetts Transport Authority, which runs Logan Airport. "We were the first to institute 100 percent in-line baggage screening, so this was a natural next step for us."

U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), announced the pilot project last month at a news conference, accusing the Transportation Security Administration of stalling on the issue of air cargo, which is carried on passenger planes but not screened like luggage.

The TSA has said that it is moving as quickly as practical to bring cargo screening on line without destroying the air cargo business, which depends on flights for "just-in-time delivery." According to UPI, the agency said it wants to run its own pilot program for electronic cargo screening using explosive detection systems, but has yet to set a timetable. TSA officials say that while screening is ultimately desirable, it is not immediately necessary. They said the "known-shipper" program—which allows only registered firms to put cargo on passenger planes—and other measures such as the use of canine inspection teams provide security.


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