|While flight safety tends to revolve around operational and often technical issues, the
topic of security has more to do with ensuring the right plans and rules are in place to
prevent acts of criminality and terrorism. The security of air cargo, especially with a view
to belly freight, is also of great importance to the safety of aviation as a whole.
But let’s take a look back first. Inevitably, the history of air cargo is closely linked with that
of passenger air travel. However, the processes in both sectors are scarcely comparable
now. People sometimes believe that it should be possible to apply security regulations
across the board to both passenger aviation and air cargo. Actually, dedicated air cargo
security expertise is essential. Ensuring a first-class air cargo security system is a
constant challenge which involves juggling ongoing operations and a fixed infrastructure.
In general, aviation security standards have been the order of the day for a good one
hundred years. Almost all rules in commercial and international aviation are agreed
multinationally between countries. Some events have been especially important to the
genesis of current standards: the bombing of a PanAm jet on 21 December 1988, the
September 11 attacks in the US in 2001 and, lastly, the discovery of parcel bombs in
2010. On the one hand, the regulations have become ever stricter and defence
mechanisms have improved over time. On the other, technical progress has also brought
with it new threats.
Besides the much more present terrorist and political motivations nowadays, the fact that
goods transported by air have a high value is another security aspect. One tonne of air
cargo has an average goods value of USD 100,000, while the average value on other
forms of transport is around USD 2,000. The so-called Lufthansa Heist at John F.
Kennedy International Airport in New York City is one of the best-known examples of
criminals exploiting this fact.
For all of these reasons and more, Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cargo set considerably
higher standards which even exceed legal and other binding requirements. Making air
cargo everywhere as safe and secure as possible remains a challenge for the future.
Some airlines are leading by example on this and investing in the highest standards
which often go beyond the minimum required by law to a significant degree. The next
milestone must be to ensure all air cargo warehouses worldwide are operated at such a
high level. To achieve this, all airlines and their handling representatives internationally
must be obliged to ensure that air cargo is as safe and secure as checked baggage and
this must be enforced globally. Otherwise, those who give only the minimum of attention
and funding to the issue of security could be the very ones to benefit financially in
challenging times for the industry.
Head of Security & Environmental Management,