Qatar Airways Cargo and its ground handler Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd (Hactl) have teamed up to provide an extra layer of security for the airline’s ex-Hong Kong flights, using technical detection dogs to sniff out hidden lithium batteries in air cargo.
The detection service is being provided by leading specialist MSA Security®, An Allied Universal® Company (MSA), which now operates a team of security experts and sniffer dogs within a dedicated area of Hactl’s SuperTerminal 1 facility. The dogs are specially-trained to detect specific odours, resulting in their ability to detect lithium batteries, whether they are in loose, palletised or containerised cargo. In proving trials at Hactl, an MSA dog successfully detected packages containing lithium batteries in PCs, and even a single power bank, located on pallets containing other general cargo.
Qatar Airways Cargo and Hactl are the first carrier and cargo handler in Hong Kong to utilise trained sniffer dogs for lithium battery detection. The carrier’s decision to use dogs rather than traditional X-ray detection alone was due to the difficulty of reliably identifying lithium batteries via X-ray images, particularly for e-commerce shipments containing multiple types of product in small packages.
MSA dogs are trained at one of the company’s eleven canine training centres in the United States, and housed locally in their dedicated kennel in Hong Kong. Further dogs are constantly being trained, and can be made available at short notice in the event of increased demand.
Guillaume Halleux, Chief Officer Cargo at Qatar Airways said: “We always maintain the highest possible level of aviation safety and security and we have continuously advocated for proper regulation in the transport of lithium batteries. We recently became the second airline in the world to become IATA CEIV Lithium Batteries certified and we continue to look at ways to improve our methods. The trials with MSA have been very impressive, and our agreement to adopt their services through Hactl marks an important step forward for our brand.”
Adds Hactl Chief Executive Wilson Kwong: “We are very pleased to partner with our valued customer Qatar Airways Cargo in facilitating this innovative enhancement to the services we provide to them. Effective aviation safety and security demand that we leverage every new technology and technique, and this latest move perfectly aligns with Hactl’s constant drive for continuous improvement in all aspects of its operations.”
Hactl is already conducting trials with another major operator, and plans to offer the technical detection dog service option to all of its customer carriers.