The House of Representatives recently approved H.R. 1, the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007 introduced by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), in a 299-128 vote. One bill provision would expand screening of cargo carried in passenger aircrafts. In some cases, flowers are shipped on passenger aircrafts and are a perishable product, which means delaying cargo could significantly slow supply chains.
H.R. 1 includes a provision that mandates 100-percent inspection of all cargo on passenger aircrafts to be phased in over three years (35 percent by the end of 2007, 65 percent by the end of 2008 and 100 percent by the end of 2009). The Senate version of the 9/11 Commission bill could be introduced later in January.
Requiring physical screening of all air cargo carried on passenger airlines sounds like a positive measure to advance aviation security, but there are several problems. No government-certified cargo screening technology exists today to effectively and efficiently screen all cargo. In the absence of this technology, airlines conduct random inspection of a significant percentage of air cargo to ensure security.
The Society of American Florists (SAF), along with other organizations representing businesses that rely on airlines to ship products, signed a letter to the House and Senate urging Congress to focus on realistic solutions based on a framework that identifies and prioritizes risks. SAF supports ensuring the highest possible level of security while maintaining critical services.