Citing the increased threat of a bomb being smuggled on board an aircraft bound for the United States, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued an emergency order requiring stricter scrutiny of air cargo, effective Monday morning.
Airports in Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will all have to comply with what's known as Air Cargo Advanced Screening - ACAS - a more thorough examine of cargo boarding the plane.
"TSA looks at threats emanating from each country uniquely, and can not provide specific information about those threats, but after analyzing evaluated intelligence, we determined that we needed to expand the (air cargo advance screening) program within each of them at this time", TSA's emergency order said.
The TSA's statement also noted that most of the order's requirements are already being carried out voluntarily by airlines in some countries.
This information must be submitted well ahead of loading.
The TSA/CBP "emergency" order affects cargo carried by EgyptAir operating out of Cairo; by Royal Jordanian operating out of Amman; by Saudia operating out of Jeddah and Riyadh; by Qatar Airways operating out of Doha; by Emirates Airline operating out of Dubai; and by Etihad Airways operating out of Abu Dhabi.
Timing of the submission of the data is a key factor.
"We don't know what is in a cargo package until it gets to the airport and is loaded on a palette", said a TSA official. Among those changes was a requirement that all personal electronic devices larger than a cellphone or smartphone be placed in checked baggage at select last point of departure airports.
All cargo already goes through security screening, though the additional information comes as US authorities worry about bombs potentially being put on planes.
"The persistent threat to aviation calls for the world to raise the baseline on global aviation security across the spectrum", it said, according to AFP.