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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Air freight gets tighter screening

WASHINGTON — For the first time, business cargo carried on most passenger planes is being checked for explosives, according to airlines and the Transportation Security Administration.

Airlines began checking air freight on single-aisle airplanes such as 737s and 757s as of Oct. 1, the TSA said. Air freight often includes products sent from manufacturing plants to stores and is carried on planes along with passenger luggage.

Cargo carried on wide-body planes such as 747s is still not checked for bombs but will be by early 2010, the TSA said.

"This is a very significant step for security," TSA spokesman Christopher White said. Single-aisle planes account for more than 90% of domestic flights, he said, though they hold only 25% of the cargo carried by passenger planes.

The TSA has been under pressure for several years to do a better job ensuring that there are no bombs hidden in the 250 million freight packages that passenger planes carry each year. Freight includes anything from flowers and fish to computers and auto parts that require quick delivery. [Mark Godsey]

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