US implements ACAS cargo security requirements

12 / 06 / 2018

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented its air cargo advanced screening (ACAS) requirements for cargo entering the country following the completion of a pilot programme.

In an interim final rule making coming into force today, the DHS has required that air cargo data is submitted to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before the aircraft is loaded, as opposed to current requirements that the information is provided four hours before arrival.

This follows a pilot scheme that has been ongoing since 2010 and has been extended several times.

The rule making stated: “Under the current CBP regulatory time frames for transmitting air cargo data, CBP may not be able to identify high-risk cargo such as unauthorised weapons, explosives, chemical and/or biological weapons, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), or other destructive substances or items in the cargo until it is already en route to the US.

“This is because the [current] time frames do not provide CBP adequate time to perform targeted risk assessments on the air cargo before the aircraft departs for the US.

“Terrorists have already exploited this security vulnerability by placing explosive devices aboard aircraft destined to the US.

“Explosives and/or weapons contained in air cargo could potentially be detonated during flight. Such a terrorist attack could result in destruction of the aircraft, serious injuries or death to passengers and crew, and potential ground-level victims or targets.”

The CBP and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have since 2010 carried out a pilot programme to test whether filing the information before loading had helped identify security threats.

“The Air Cargo Advanced Screening (ACAS) pilot has been successful in enabling CBP to identify a substantial amount of high-risk cargo,” the rule making states.

“Significantly, CBP has identified a substantial number of air cargo shipments that have potential ties to terrorism and, therefore, may represent a threat.

“When this high-risk cargo is identified, enhanced cargo screening is performed pursuant to TSA-approved or accepted security programs.”

Under the rule making, some data sets must be filed while it is also encouraged that optional pieces of information are added.

The required information includes: air waybill number; shipper name and address; consignee name and address; cargo description; quantity; and weight.

Freight forwarders and inbound air carriers will be the parties required to file the information.

The CBP said it would take a flexible approach to the filing requirement for a 12 month period from the effective date.

The DHS also invited feedback on the rule, which must be received by August 13.

The pilot programme was put in place in 2010 following on from a foiled attempt to plant a printer cartridge containing explosives on a cargo aircraft.