The tragic events of 9/11 sparked a revolution regarding security across many outlets of the United States systems. One system that was particularly paid close attention to was the airline industry and all of the passengers that use it daily. To protect against explosives, laws were enacted and as a result, the TSA created a way to screen people, as well as business cargo for explosives before it loaded airlines. Over time the programs have evolved and with each evolution came a progression in cost-effectiveness and efficiency. Starting as a small program, TSA has now created a network of screening professionals and even canine teams to protect the country and its people within the airline industry.

How Certified Cargo Screening Facilities Have Evolved

Over the course of our country’s life, one thing that has stayed consistent across the years has been a reliable defense system to protect the citizens. While that system has changed, many others have also been created to ensure that all parts of our complex world are covered. One of those areas is within our current system is the airline industry. After September 11th, 2001, concern grew over whether airports were as safe as they could be. In response, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was tasked with ensuring passengers were screened for a slew of dangerous items such as weapons and explosives before they boarded aircraft. This helped to instill some trust from the citizens in the airline industry again.  Behind the scenes, more defensive tactics were being created to protect airlines and the people traveling through them.

Created as a response to the implementing recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, a mandate was created to screen commerce that flowed through airports for explosives before they went onto passenger aircraft. The TSA 100% Cargo Screening Mandate was signed into law by President George W. Bush. It mandated the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to ensure that all air cargo being transported on passenger aircraft originating in the U.S. be screened by a 100 percent screening process such as the process passengers go through before boarding aircraft. The DHS put the TSA in charge of creating a program that met these standards.

The TSA then created The Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP). This program screened all cargo going through airports at a 100% piece-level screening process that utilized technology such as x-ray devices, explosive trace detection (ETD) devices, and electronic metal detection (EMD) devices. Although the technology helped screen cargo efficiently, there was simply too much cargo coming through airports for the CCSP to run with speed and efficiency. In combating the bottleneck that the growing economy created, the TSA extended the CCSP to create Certified Cargo Screening Facilities (CCSF).

A Certified Cargo Screening Facility is a third party, voluntary screening facility. In order to apply to become a CCSF, businesses must at the minimum deal with air cargo that goes directly or indirectly from an air carrier. Businesses this include are manufacturers, warehouses, distribution centers, third-party logistics providers, indirect air carriers, airport cargo handlers, independent cargo screening facilities, etc. Just like with the CCSP the CCSF must adhere to a strict set of screening guidelines set by the TSA. CCSP/CCSF must

  • Comply with safeguarding measures created by TSA’s Security program
  • Make sure there is no corruption of the cargo throughout the chain of custody
  • Permit onsite validations and periodic inspections
  • Screen cargo as individual items and not by palletized items

The third-party facilities lightened the burden on airport screening facilities and helped speed up the flow of commerce. One issue encountered by the CCSP and CCSF was in regard to one of the screening guidelines. Although machines were efficient for the most part, they could not screen mass cargo that was palletized. In order to screen palletized cargo to a piece-level screening, pallets had to be taken apart and arranged into portions that would fit screening technology, be screened, then put back together. This issue created another bottleneck in the system which needed to be fixed. The solution enlists the services of canine and handler teams, and so the Certified Cargo Screening Facility – Canine.  

Why Certified Cargo Screening Facility – Canine is Happening

Certified Cargo Screening Facility - Canine 3PK9 3PK9-C TSA CCSF-C CCSF-K9 CCSP Air Forwarders Air Cargo Security Cargo Screening k9 The point of the CCSP is to provide protection to aircraft passengers by screening cargo to ensure there is no chance of it being or holding explosives. The CCSF functions to increase that security while also increasing efficiency for airports and the global supply chain. After years of transformation to make the CCSP a better working system, the TSA hit a block when it encountered large cargo.

To counter this problem, the TSA sanctioned the use of canines for screening by creating the National Explosive Detection Canine Team Program (NEDCTP). After reviewing the costs of this program and the shortage of canine-handler teams, the TSA started to look for different solutions. The NEDCTP was housed publicly through the airport and the CCSP. It did not allow for private institutions to contribute to the effort because the TSA did not have a way to regulate the training that these teams had. In realizing that the NEDCTP could not produce the number of teams needed for the CCSP and its facilities, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) opened the floor to private parties as long as they went through TSA’s training guidelines.

The program created out of this was called the Third-Party Canine-Cargo (3PK9 or 3PK9-C) Program and started in 2018. It was a program that bridged the gap between the public and private sectors of canine-handler explosive detection teams and helped the CCSP regain speed and efficiency within its CCSF. Over the year of 2018, the 3PK9 program was tweaked and its most recent version is called the Certified Cargo Screening Facility-K9 (CCSF-K9).

The CCSF-K9 is an entity created with the understanding that another approved method was needed for third-parties to screen cargo to TSA standards while keeping costs minimal, and making time and place most efficient. Fulfilling requirements within sec. 1941 of the TSA Modernization Act, the K9 extension provides a method for screening cargo consistent with TSA’s authority under 49 U.S.C. 44901.  

How K9s Will Help Air Forwarders Meet the TSA’s 100% Mandate

The TSA’s 100% Mandate was made to provide one key factor: protection. Not only was the country and airline industry being protected, but also were the passengers of aircraft in which possible explosive cargo would be boarding. The creation of the Certified Cargo Screening Program and the Certified Cargo Screening Facility was to relieve the pressure that airport screening systems were feeling when an influx of cargo started to come in after a rising economy emerged in the US. Meant as a solution, the facilities created a network of entities that could be utilized when things got busy. Unfortunately, a problem also encountered when things got busy was the issue regarding palletized cargo and the time and costs associated with taking apart and putting back together large cargo so it could be properly screened at an individual piece level. As the economy continues to boom, the flow of commerce also booms which means that the supply chain has to be at peak efficiency.

Canine (K9) teams were the next logical solution as their unique abilities with a scent made things more efficient. Within Certified Cargo Screening Facilities (CCSF) are various devices that screen cargo for explosives. Even if the issue of disassembly and reassembly was not a problem, the machines and the people in the facility cannot screen cargo as precisely and reliably as a canine can. Inside each canine snout is 320 million sensory receptors that allow a scent to be broken down into part per million (ppt). This ability allows them to distinguish what, and where a smell is coming from. Trained canines show even more heightened abilities. With a current efficiency rating of 97% compared to humans and machines, canines fill a hole in the efficiency of a system that only works if all its gears turn quickly.

Learn more about how Cargo Screening K9 is helping air forwarders speed up their screening process and save money at the same time by downloading our Executive Information Packet.

If you would like to learn more about the 3PK9 program or to schedule a canine services appointment with an approved CCSF-K9, please contact today!


CSK9 Services Kit Download CTA