In one of the biggest and costliest expansions of aviation security since 9/11, hundreds of companies are gearing up to screen tens of millions of boxes of merchandise before those boxes are loaded onto U.S. passenger airplanes to be carried each year to retailers and others around the world. USA Today said the new screening mandates could change aviation security and international commerce. Democrats in Congress ordered the screening last year as a way to stop terrorists from using a cargo shipment to blow up a passenger plane. Cargo is not required to be screened before it is loaded with luggage under a passenger cabin.
A 2007 law requires cargo on passenger planes to be screened. The system is being phased in – by 2010, all cargo on passenger planes must be screened. That could have far-reaching effects. Congressional researchers estimate the screening equipment and personnel will cost $3.75 billion over 10 years. Transportation expert Brandon Fried says screening could take so long that shipments would be delayed and “factories could shut down.” Security consultant Douglas Laird questions whether companies that specialize in trucking freight can secure aviation. He calls the entire process “folly.”