Regulatory and Policy Issues for Air Cargo Development

Regulations and policies affect every movement in the air cargo system. These regulations and policies can create challenges and risks for airports, and affect air cargo market performance and future development. In order to prepare for these changes, airports need to learn the current and upcoming regulations for air cargo operations. Security, safety, and environmental regulatory changes have the potential to impact air cargo operations.

Security Policy

Since the events of September 11, 2001, the security regulations of the air cargo sector, like the passenger airline service, have increased drastically. The TSA, which is part of the DHS, has several policies and programs that impact air cargo shipments in the U.S. Click on each topic to read more:

  • The 9/11 Commission Act of 2007
  • The 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 requires TSA to establish a system for the industry to screen 100 percent of cargo transported on passenger aircraft in the U.S. to ensure high risk cargo is inspected. TSA developed the CCSP to meet this goal. The CCSP allows TSA to certify cargo screening facilities and enables freight forwarders and shippers to pre-screen cargo prior to arrival at the airport.

  • TSA’s Known Shipper Program
  • TSA has consolidated approximately 4,000 private industry known shipper lists into one central database managed by TSA. TSA’s Known Shipper Program prohibits air carriers from accepting cargo that does not originate from shippers who meet TSA’s Known Shipper requirements. TSA requires background checks of off-airport freight forwarder employees. The rule also extends to secure areas of airports to include ramps and cargo facilities and requires that employees of freight forwarders attend enhanced security training courses developed by TSA.

  • TSA-approved security programs for Indirect Air Carriers
  • TSA also has requirements for an IAC or any person or entity within the U.S. not in possession of an FAA air carrier operating certificate, which ships cargo belonging to any other person or entity. An IAC is often a freight forwarder that engages in tendering cargo directly to an air carrier. Each IAC must adopt and carry out a TSA-approved security program.

CBP, which is also part of the DHS, monitors the flow of goods through U.S. ports of entry and enforces the regulations that impact air cargo security.

Safety Regulations

Air cargo carriers must follow an FAA-approved aircraft maintenance program. Currently, the certification standards for cargo aircraft are less stringent than passenger carriers, but this may change in the future as concerns about an aging fleet and aircraft modifications increase. The FAA also conducts aviation safety oversight assessments of other countries to determine if they are complying with their obligations under the 1944 Chicago Convention. If the FAA finds the country meets the safety practices, it assigns a Category I rating and allows for a bilateral agreement (Discussed in the International Regulations and Policy section below).

Environmental Regulations

Airports must be aware of and be prepared to address the additional noise and emissions that could occur with increased air cargo operations. Over the last several decades air cargo, which often uses older, less-efficient, noisier planes, has had a higher negative environmental impact–including greenhouse gas and carbon emissions–than other modes such as land and sea. Environmental and sustainability policies aimed at improving carbon efficiency and cutting emissions are becoming more prevalent around the world and many air cargo carriers have voluntarily taken steps to reduce their environmental impact through improved fuel efficiency, fleet renewal, and improved e-commerce. As more and more countries adopt environmental policies, the U.S. may also feel the pressure to adopt new policies regarding emissions control. New aircraft technology and bio-fuels are allowing for improvements in emissions.

International Regulations and Policy

International aviation is governed by bilateral and multilateral agreements between two or more countries’ governments. Freedoms of the Air are the international aviation agreements that were developed during the Chicago Convention to set forth a framework for air commerce. There are nine freedoms of the air that grant a country’s airlines the right to enter and land in another country’s airspace. The U.S. has an Open Skies policy and has set forth agreements with hundreds of countries around the world. It is anticipated that bilateral agreements and air freedom rights will continue to expand over the next decade which will allow for more efficient movement of air cargo and continued expansion of trade.