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Aircraft Conversion Not Substantial Enough to Change Origin, CBP Finds

Friday, March 10, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a final determination concerning the country of origin of a military cargo airplane converted to a firefighting aircraft that may be offered to the U.S. government under an undesignated government procurement contract. Any party-at-interest may seek judicial review of this determination by April 10. CBP issues country of origin advisory rulings and final determinations as to whether an article is or would be a product of a designated country or instrumentality for the purposes of granting waivers of certain “Buy American” restrictions in U.S. law or practice for products offered for sale to the U.S. government.

The aircraft at issue is a medium-sized, twin-engine jet-powered aircraft produced in Brazil and designed for a variety of military mobility missions. The Brazilian manufacturer intends to modify it into a civil fire suppression aircraft in the U.S., which would require the removal of some systems and components and the addition of new ones to meet U.S. Forest Service requirements for aerial firefighting.

However, CBP concludes in ruling HQ H280872 that these modifications are not extensive enough to result in a substantial transformation. While the type of materials carried and the method of delivery would be different, the aircraft’s most important systems would remain intact and its basic structural integrity and aerodynamics would not be changed. CBP therefore finds that the country of origin of the converted aircraft is Brazil, where it was originally manufactured.

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