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  July 12th, 2018 | Written by

Air Cargo Advance Screening Now Mandatory

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  • Before June 12, 2018, a voluntary air cargo security process was in place.
  • Under ACAS, carriers submit required pre-arrival air cargo data to CBP prior to loading cargo onto aircraft.
  • ACAS had its genesis in October 2010, when an attempt by al-Qaeda to ship explosives in air cargo was disrupted.

The Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) program went into effect last month, requiring the submission of advanced air cargo information on shipments arriving in the United States from a foreign location. Before June 12, 2018, a voluntary process in which many airlines already participated, was in effect. The program requirements are now mandatory for airlines flying to the United States.

As part of the ACAS program, participating carriers submit a subset of required pre-arrival air cargo data to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the earliest point practicable and prior to loading the cargo onto aircraft destined to or transiting through the United States.

The program had its genesis in October 2010, when the global counter-terrorism community disrupted an attempt by al-Qaeda in Yemen to conceal and ship explosive devices in cargo onboard US-bound aircraft. Five days later, CBP and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began meeting with industry to understand business practices and to develop a

mechanism to collect cargo data as soon as possible in the supply chain.

The result the ACAS pilot, which allowed CBP and TSA to use advance information from air carriers and other stakeholders to identify and intercept high-risk shipments in a pre-loading timeline. The two

agencies formed a joint targeting operation at a centralized location. The targeting operation uses CBP’s Automated Targeting System and other available intelligence to identify packages that pose a possible security threat.

The ACAS pilot operated for over seven years, and now is now a requirement. The ACAS data elements include: shipper name and address, consignee name and address, a non-generic cargo description, quantity based on the smallest external packing unit, the weight of the cargo expressed in pounds or kilograms, and the air waybill number.

The inbound air carrier is required to file the ACAS data if no other eligible party elects to file. CBP is

allowing parties other than the inbound air carrier to file because in some cases, these other parties will

have access to accurate ACAS data sooner. ACAS data should be transmitted prior to consolidation and loading the cargo on an aircraft. ACAS violations are subject to liquidated damages claims.

According to CBP, advantages of ACAS include efficiencies gained by automating identification of high-risk cargo for enhanced screening and reduced paper processes related to cargo screening requirements.

CBP sees ACAS as a model for the international community to enhance air cargo security, and intends to work with the World Customs Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization to harmonize air cargo security standards globally.