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Security regulation affects the world, remains relatively unknown

By Adina Solomon on February 10, 2014

It sounds simple enough.

All carriers who fly cargo and mail into the European Union from non-EU countries must have their security operations validated. This European Commission regulation stems from the Yemen cargo bomb plot in October 2010.

But this change – more than three years in the making – could take some of the air cargo industry by surprise. European entities question whether the resources exist for companies to comply with the regulation and whether everyone takes it seriously enough.

This European regulation, known as ACC3, reaches outside the continent, potentially affecting thousands of stations around the world.

All affected carriers – anyone who flies cargo into the EU – must be validated by July 1.

“We’re really talking a significant amount of validations here that need to take place,” says Werner Cooreman, regional head of security for DHL Express Europe and chairman of the European Express Association Security Committee. “If you look at the global playing field, there’s quite a number of airlines involved and for each airline, there’s quite a number of last points of departure into Europe involved, so quite a lot of facilities.”

But now, less than five months from the deadline, it seems unclear if the airfreight industry will be ready.


More security for air cargo

Few people argue against security regulations, and European companies interviewed by Air Cargo World didn’t deviate.

“In general, it’s one more step for more security in the air cargo industry,” Harald Zielinski, chief security officer at Lufthansa Cargo, says.

In order to comply with the regulation, carriers must ensure that cargo and mail destined for the EU is screened or comes from a secure supply chain. After a carrier is independently validated, it gains the required status as an “Air Cargo or Mail Carrier operating into the Union from a Third Country Airport” (ACC3).

Independent validators must be trained in order to evaluate carriers.

Zielinski says countries guided by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and the European Commission already have well-written air cargo security rules.

“But there are some countries where it is not clear to everybody what it really going on there,” he says. “For me, it’s definitely very, very sensible to see the step by the authorities to make sure there is no cargo flown into a secured network which is originated by an unsecured network.”

EU regulators conducted a risk assessment and divided the world into three segments: green, red and white. Green countries do not require additional aviation security regulations. The U.S. falls under that category. Red countries require strong additional measures. The white countries encompass everyone else, the majority of the world.

The EU does not publish these lists publicly, giving them only to affected carriers.

DB Schenker’s Lothar Moehle, director security standardization for airfreight operations, says the ACC3 regulation will help the company better protect its employees.

“Certainly it is making the operational processes not necessarily easier, although overall it’s making the airfreight shipments more secure, there’s no doubt about it,” Moehle says.

Companies quickly point out to Air Cargo World that they already have optimal security and screening programs, even before ACC3.

The International Air Transport Association’s Mike Woodall, who is on a two-year secondment from the UK Department for Transport, says some regulators do not have faith in the secure supply chain.

“The European regulators have said, ‘We are prepared to trust and accept the secure supply chain,’” Woodall says. “All they’ve asked industry to do is to provide demonstrable proof to an independent validator that it is actually a secure supply chain. It’s not just taken on faithful blind trust. There is actually demonstrable evidence that says that the carriers are trusting a secure supply chain for a very good reason.”


Possible ‘blockage in the pipe’

A key piece of the regulation is the independent validators. Without them, carriers can’t meet the requirement to have their security operations validated.