3 Things Air Carriers Need to Know Before New Cargo Screening Rules Kick In

Tim Crawford K9-1By: Tim Crawford, Director of Canine Solutions

A major regulatory deadline is rapidly approaching that will drastically alter international air cargo safety screening standards. On September 1, 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, gave notice to member states that they must ensure all international air cargo transported on commercial aircraft (passenger and freight) is screened to a level intended to identify and/or detect the presence of concealed explosive devices no later than June 30, 2021. (Federal Registrar, 2020).

The looming June 30 deadline is quickly approaching for all outbound international air cargo carried by commercial aircraft operators. Large scale shipping services and the many components within these complex logistics chains must now implement enhanced explosive detection screening and/or burdensome manufacturing and packaging/shipping protocols.

This policy shift requires swift and significant shifts in air cargo operations, to improve safety measures as global transportation systems and infrastructure remain a target for terrorism. SOC, with more than two decades of mission-support experience is no stranger at adeptly adapting to meet the security needs of the U.S. Government and commercial entities to fight the global war on terror. We work around the clock to stay ahead of evolving threats with agility and a preventative security posture.


As a TSA- Certified Cargo Screening Facility-Canine, SOC is ready to deliver our security experience stateside to secure the homeland. We have worked tirelessly to fully understand this regulatory change and its impact on civil aviation operations and how stakeholders can prepare.

From our experience and research, we have compiled three points every affected entity must know ahead of the June 30 deadline:

1.      Additional cargo screening methods have been implemented: The TSA has authorized the use of canines under the third party canine program and other cargo screening methods to meet the standard of the ICAO deadline. It is important to recognize that worldwide air freight traffic increased 7.2 metric tons from post-COVID 2020, to where we are currently in 2021, according to market data firm Statista. That increase won’t be falling anytime soon, as consumers have become more accustomed to ordering online and expecting their purchases quickly. Those certified to screen cargo need to implement a fast and effective solution soon.

2.      Canines are the best screening solution available and in high demand: Canines are undoubtedly the fastest and most effective way to screen cargo for explosives. No technology or human method has been able to outperform well-trained canines when it comes to quickly and effectively identifying explosives. Because of this, demand for canine services is growing fast. Canine providers are leaning in to meet this demand— as fast as responsibly possible. Those that delay engaging with a canine service provider run the risk of having their operations severely slowed. Any slowdown could feel like a screeching halt compared to the fast-paced nature of air cargo. And, the customers lost to their competitors who have implemented canine screening, could significantly impact their bottom line. 

3.      Hiring a canine service provider with experience in compliance and operational consistency will be critical: Not all canine service providers are created equal, and air cargo entities must ensure they partner with a service provider that maintains compliance. First, they must seek out canine professionals with extensive experience with the agility, connections, and resources to scale a canine program to meet the needs of a large contract quickly. Second, a canine service provider with compliance expertise that can proactively aid in ensuring full compliance at all times. It is crucial to choose a provider that is knowledgeable in aviation regulation and has experience advising customers on modifying operations for canine efficiency.

SOC’s Canine Teams have extensive experience providing explosive detection services in high threat locations around the world. In fact, we have successfully supplied more than 550 Canine teams globally, in the protection of personnel, facilities, and assets.

We have worked with our customers to optimally tailor operations at U.S. Embassies (as one leading example), as we do with the air cargo community to allow seamless operations without compromising safety.

Our experienced teams have managed operations internationally in compliance with dozens of governmental authorities. We have been monitoring this regulatory development and working with air cargo entities to help the industry prepare for this new safety standard.

Combined with our 15 years of experience in training canines to meet explosive detection needs, our Canine Solutions Group is at the ready to provide air carriers with turnkey canine solutions to address this new standard. Reach out to us today to find out more about how our Canine Solutions Group can help your organization stay compliant.

Learn more about SOC's cargo screening capabilities here.

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