Air Cargo News has an interesting story today where the head of security of Lufthansa Cargo, Harald Zielinski, sounds a warning that current efforts to improve air cargo security do not adequately take into account the threat of a plane being hijacked and commandeered in a 9/11-style attack. He’s quoted in the story accordingly:
â€œThe plans currently under discussion do not take into consideration that a terrorist could take control of a freighter aircraft and use it as a weapon….
“While there are plenty of regulations on the table that have and will further tighten procedures for the passenger/cargo combination business there is little consideration being afforded the operating crew or attendants onboard all-cargo aircraft.”
â€œPut another way, in an atmosphere of enlightened total security it cannot be up to a company alone to assure the safety and protection of its employees who transport and handle freight.â€
â€œWhat is needed is enlightened re-regulation of security procedures that is the result of a wide ranging independent study of the current situation.â€
Zielinski notes in the story that tens of thousands of airport employees potentially have access to aircraft in a major cargo hub airport, and worries about an insider threat that might afford terrorists access to a large cargo plane.
Other parts of the article are a bit confusing, but this key point is sensible, and certainly any effort to secure the air cargo system should take a comprehensive and risk-based approach: one that doesn’t fortify the front door and leave the back door wide open. The key countermeasures for this particular element of the threat are likely to be mandatory and/or enhanced background checks for airport workers, and airport-wide, credential-based access control and surveillance systems.