TSA Shows Off New LAX Cargo Scanners

TSA Shows Off New LAX Cargo Scanners

Daily Breeze

(Los Angeles, CA—July 8, 2010) – Travelers will be safer Aug. 1 when 100 percent of cargo is screened before placement onto passenger jets nationwide, Transportation Security Administration and cargo company officials said Thursday.

Displaying a huge $200,000 X-ray machine at Mercury Air Group Independent Cargo Screening Facility near Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said they are ready to meet a congressional mandate requiring the freight industry to screen every cargo container that flows through LAX.

LAX Scanners

Cargo at LAX is routed through a large scanner at the Mercury Aviation Services warehouse. All air carriers will be required to screen 100% of cargo that flies on passenger aircraft starting in August. (Brad Graverson / Dailybreeze.com Staff Photographer)

After the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Congress required the screening of all cargo put aboard narrow body, single-aisle aircraft, which makes up more than 95 percent of domestic flights.

Cargo placed on wide-body jets, including 747s, was only 50 percent screened until February 2009, and 75 percent by May as the cargo industry took steps to comply with the   100 percent deadline of Aug. 1.

That meant loads of unexamined cargo rested next to passenger suitcases in the bowels of jumbo jets.

"You don't realize what's under your feet," said Douglas Brittin, the TSA's general manager for air cargo.

About 1.5 million tons of cargo passed through LAX during the first 11 months of 2009 for an estimated $60 billion annual impact on the region, according to recent statistics.

To meet the demand, the TSA certified 810 freight-forwarding facilities across the country to assist the airlines in examining cargo.

Drive near the Century Boulevard entrance to LAX, is among 77 facilities in Los Angeles that will screen the cargo coming in and out of its warehouses and placed on planes.

Workers there demonstrated for the media Thursday how large loads of boxes will be sent through one of two X-ray machines before it is loaded onto planes.

"They are screening for explosive devices of all types," said David Herbst, executive vice president of Mercury Air Group.

Should anything be found, law enforcement authorities would be called.

Herbst said screening cargo at freight facilities, including his, will make the process run smoother and faster than having everything screened by the airlines, avoiding bottlenecks at airlines and delaying passenger flights.

Cargo will be screened, searched if necessary, and made tamper-proof.

Some industry watchers had questioned if the cargo industry could meet the deadline. Brittin said the cargo business had no choice but to do so.

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