Air Cargo Pilot Extended for Another Year, Reopened to New Participants
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has extended for another year, through July 26, 2014, the Air Cargo Advance Screening pilot program, which is used to target high-risk air cargo. CBP has also reopened through Sept. 26 the deadline for applications from those wishing to participate in this program. CBP states that there are current participants in the process of testing and development who still need time to become fully operational and that there continue to be members of the air cargo community who have expressed an interest in participating in the pilot.
The ACAS pilot is a voluntary test in which participants (including express carriers, passenger carriers, heavy all-cargo carriers and freight forwarders) submit a subset of the required advance air cargo data to CBP at the earliest point practicable prior to loading of the cargo onto the aircraft destined to or transiting through the United States. The data elements submitted as part of this pilot include air waybill number, total quantity based on the smallest external packing unit, total weight, cargo description, shipper name and address, and consignee name and address. Participants must also (1) mitigate, according to Transportation Security Administration screening protocols, any threat identified by the National Targeting Center, (2) respond promptly with complete and accurate information when contacted by the NTC with questions regarding the data submitted, (3) follow any Do Not Load instructions, and (4) partake in regular teleconferences or meetings established by CBP, when necessary, to ensure that any issues or challenges regarding the pilot are communicated and addressed.
CBP intends to eventually turn ACAS into a mandatory program, and the results of the ACAS pilot will inform that process by helping to determine the relevant data elements, the timeframe within which data should be submitted to permit CBP to effectively target, identify and mitigate any risk with the least impact practicable on trade operations, and any other related procedures and policies. In May CBP officials estimated that it could take another six to eight months to complete the drafting of a proposed rule on mandatory ACAS and the accompanying economic impact assessment, after which the proposal would go to the Department of Homeland Security for further review. Officials added that even once a final rule is issued there will likely be a long informed compliance period to give affected companies time to adjust.