TSA’s NEDCTP began in 1972 with the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Explosive Detection Canine Team Program.  The program was developed to allow for strategic placement of canine teams around the Nation, so in the event that an aircraft was to receive a bomb threat, they could divert to an airport to be screened by a canine team.  This FAA program was transferred to the TSA in 2002 and has considerably expanded from its initial creation.  The value of the NEDCT program does not go unrecognized by Congress and has received continuous funding that has resulted in the 2nd largest federal explosive detection canine program, behind the Department of Defense.  It is estimated that TSA trains 300 canine teams per year with an average cost of $26,000.00 per traditional explosive detection canine.  Since the move from the FAA to the TSA in 2002 the NEDCTP has seen significant growth in Mass Transit in 2007, Cargo in 2008, Multi-Modal in 2009 and the addition of Personal Screening Canines in 2011 which have proven invaluable at checkpoint screening locations throughout the nation.    The estimated training costs of a Passenger Screening Canine is 42K.

NEDCTP TSA Cargo Screening K9 Explosive Detection canine programThere are currently 1047 canine teams, that serve in various security missions to include passenger, cargo, and other security missions.  In 2017 it is estimated that these canine teams accounted for over 209,000 canine utilization hours throughout the Nation’s transportation system.  In an ever-changing global threat environment, the TSA and its NEDCTP have effectively streamlined their program and used their resources to mitigate viable threats. But with recent intelligence suggesting that operative terrorist organizations are acutely aware of the vulnerability of our air cargo industry, the TSA knows that its NEDCTP resources cannot meet the increasing screening requirements of the air cargo industry and have worked diligently to develop a Third-Party Canine Screening Solution that supports their mission.

Passenger and Cargo Aircraft have been a target for suicides, terrorist plots and attacks since the early beginnings of air travel, and have terrorism as a motive has plagued the industry since the 1960’s.  The first attack occurred in 1933 when a United Airlines flight exploded mid-air over Chesterton, Indiana due to a nitroglycerin bomb killing all 10 passengers and crew aboard.  Explosive material and devices have included: dynamite, nitroglycerin dynamite, nitrocellulose, acid and gasoline mixture, grenades, C4, phosphorus, ammonium nitrate, and petrol and have detonated in lavatories, passenger compartments, cockpits, landing gear, baggage compartments, cargo containers, and aircraft cargo holds. The graphical representation below shows Incidents and Casualties from 1930-2006.

Since 2006 there have been 4 additional airline bombing incidents.airline bombing statistics totals per year K9 Cargo Screening

2009 Western China –  Suicide Bomber, Fuel (Thwarted)

2009 Detroit Michigan, Underwear Bomber, PETN and TATP (Thwarted)

2010 Cargo Planes, US Addressed Packages, United Kingdom and Dubai, PETN (Thwarted)

There have been 91 attempts on passenger and cargo aircraft resulting in 56 of them resulting in casualties.  These focused attacks have evolved over time, with various types of explosive material, the complexity of devices and the means of delivery all of which equally contribute to the active threat environment, and the way in which the transportation system and the TSA mitigate these threats.

The security of air cargo shipments to and from the United States is regulated by the TSA. There is more than 50,000 tons of cargo that are transported aboard passenger and cargo aircraft each day.  International shipments are also inspected by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). TSA and CBP have faced enforcement challenges due to the rapidly evolving threat in securing air cargo from hijacking, explosives, and the potential insider threat. TSA took a risk-based approach to hand these challenges and implemented the Certified Cargo Screening Program in response to the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.

Air freight between the U.S. and the rest of the world in the month of December 2017 increased 9% from December 2016 to 994,547 tons.  U.S. airlines carried 42% of the total freight to and from international destinations.