Department of Homeland Security officials say they will issue a new rule requiring airlines that carry cargo into the United States to submit manifest data prior to departure from a foreign airport - but only after thoroughly testing the best methods for achieving their security goals without damaging the air cargo industry.
Obtaining shipment information in advance of the current manifest-filing deadline - four hours prior to arrival or at takeoff for countries less than four hours away - is now considered a necessary step to protect aircraft, including freighters, from being blown up in flight, after plastic explosives hidden in printer cartridges were recently discovered on a UPS plane in England and at a FedEx facility in Dubai.
The acknowledgment that data is virtually useless for weeding out suspicious shipments and thwarting a mid-air attack when received after planes are en route begs the question of why it took the most recent plots before officials considered revising a major gap in the nation's risk-based supply chain security regime.
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