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Air Cargo Security: Finding a Balance

Toronto, Ont October 8, 2015
Our international association, FIATA is often asked to provide stakeholder input to governments and NGOs on issues ranging from Air Cargo Security Finding a Balancethe SOLAS container weight verification to revisions to some obscure EU regulation on the CMR.  CIFFA relies on FIATA  to keep us informed on issues of global importance and FIATA relies on its members, like CIFFA, to provide guidance where we can.   Recently, FIATA was asked to provide the thoughts of our global freight logistics sector to ICAO, to help define some of the challenges facing the aviation community that ICAO must take into account in the future of its work plans.

Simplicity and transparency are essential to trade facilitation and that one of the greatest challenges facing ICAO is the absolute necessity to balance trade facilitation with security.  Air cargo security and aviation security cannot be achieved at the expense of efficiency and simplicity.  Yet, increasingly the results of the work of organizations such as ICAO create an air cargo environment that is overly complex, frequently modified and is duplicated or handled by multiple agencies within member States.

For those who may not know “the most important legislative function performed by ICAO is the formulation and adoption of Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for international civil aviation. These are incorporated into the 19 technical annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention. Of critical importance to the future of civil aviation and to the international community at large are the measures taken by ICAO to prevent and suppress all acts of unlawful interference against civil aviation throughout the world. SARPs for international aviation security were first adopted by the ICAO Council in March 1974, and designated as Annex 17 to the Chicago Convention. The latest Amendment to Annex 17 – Amendment 14 – became applicable on 14 November 2014.”

Every Member State is responsible for regulating its country’s air cargo security following what is commonly known as Annex 17.  In Canada, that task falls to Transport Canada and has resulted in the Air Cargo Security program that we all know and love.

Over the past fifteen years ICAO has been committed to increasing aviation security. We are all familiar with the work of ICAO in developing security requirements, which have been progressively revised, updated and made more stringent.  These include air cargo security, screening technologies to detect prohibited articles, strengthening international standards, improving security information-sharing and providing capacity-building assistance to States in need.  In 2014 updated security requirements were contained in the 12th revision of Annex 17 (Security) to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, adopted by the Council of the Organization.

And therein lies the challenge.  Air cargo security and aviation security cannot be achieved at the expense of efficiency and simplicity.  Yet, increasingly the results of the work of organizations such as ICAO create an air cargo environment that is overly complex, frequently modified and is duplicated or handled by multiple agencies within member States.

Capacity-building and training development in areas such as Africa, South America and parts of Asia can do only so much to promote both aviation security and trade facilitation.  ICAO must work with its member States to simplify and standardize security requirements in every country.  National Customs authorities and Transportation / Security Administrations must align their work so as to eliminate duplicative requirements, reduce advance data requirements to the minimum data necessary to ensure safety and security, and standardize globally.

Click to read CIFFA’s full response to FIATA’s request, complete with references and footnotes.

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