Cargo planes are vulnerable to terrorist attacks, as latest scare provesBy Larry McShane
October 31, 2010
Security for cargo planes is often less stringent than on commercial flights, with the sheer volume of international air shipping blamed for some of the lapses.
"This is a lot trickier than passenger planes," said Rep. Peter King, (R-L.I.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
"You're talking billions of pounds of cargo," he said Saturday. "To screen it all is extremely difficult, and could bring world commerce to a halt."
Volume is one woe. Experts cite varying security guidelines from country to country as another, and cargo is frequently less scrutinized than luggage.
The cost is another factor, with the price of sophisticated scanning technology for cargo running much higher than X-ray machines or body scanners.
The placement of the two bombs on cargo-only flights to Dubai and the United Kingdom dramatically demonstrated the security problem.
Neither was found before the flights departed, with only a Saudi intelligence tip preventing a disaster.
British Home Secretary Theresa May said the package aboard the plane from Yemen was powerful enough to take down the flight in mid-air if detonated.
King said he spoke Saturday with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano about the problem. "This opens up a new level in the battle against terrorism," King said. "This shows we're vulnerable."