• ITVI.USA
    16,240.330
    -110.510
    -0.7%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.762
    0.031
    1.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.780
    0.120
    0.6%
  • OTVI.USA
    16,233.310
    -109.890
    -0.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.520
    0.380
    12.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.960
    -0.660
    -18.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.610
    0.250
    18.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.340
    -0.130
    -3.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.100
    -0.250
    -10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.860
    -0.220
    -5.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    -2.000
    -1.6%
  • ITVI.USA
    16,240.330
    -110.510
    -0.7%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.762
    0.031
    1.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.780
    0.120
    0.6%
  • OTVI.USA
    16,233.310
    -109.890
    -0.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.520
    0.380
    12.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.960
    -0.660
    -18.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.610
    0.250
    18.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.340
    -0.130
    -3.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.100
    -0.250
    -10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.860
    -0.220
    -5.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    -2.000
    -1.6%
American Shipper

Compliance 360: ACAS not ready for prime time

   Making it mandatory for airlines and freight forwarders to file advance information about cargo loaded onto aircraft bound for the United States once seemed like a foregone conclusion, but U.S. Customs in July announced it was extending a pilot program testing the concept for another year.
   Industry officials say the delay is due to bureaucracy involving new regulations and a desire to get the rule right so as not to burden companies engaged in international trade, especially since there are many details to work out over how the government and private sector will interact with foreign parties overseas to ensure compliance.
   “It’s a bit more complex than anyone realized going in,” Douglas Brittin, secretary general of The International Air Cargo Association, said in an interview. “A lot more needs to be tested before you can write all the details and guidelines.”
   The Air Cargo Advanced Screening (ACAS) pilot was launched with the help of express carriers in early 2011 after a package bomb originating in Yemen was discovered on a cargo plane. Under the demonstration, transportation providers voluntarily pre-file seven data elements about their consignments as early as possible prior to departure so Customs and Border Protection can run them through threat-assessment software and order any necessary inspections. ACAS is designed to split out the consignment information, which is usually available much sooner than the rest of the post-departure flight manifest filed with authorities at takeoff, so it can undergo risk profiling.
   The results of the ACAS pilot will help determine the relevant data elements, the data transmission methods, the timeframe within which data must be submitted to permit CBP to effectively target, protocols for sending “do not load” messages to carriers for suspicious shipments, and how inspection referrals in foreign airports will be handled. Officials say they want to implement rules that have the least possible impact on business operations.
   Challenges include the lack of compatibility between many air carrier and forwarder IT systems, inaccurate or incomplete manifest information, wide variations in the timing of available data, different risk management approaches among Customs and Homeland Security regulators in many nations, and limited testing of forwarder capabilities, especially outside of the United States. Inspection protocols among nations are not uniform and how to treat companies in trusted shipper programs also has yet to be determined.
   CBP has extended the pilot several times since October 2012. Extensions have allowed the number of participants from all parts of the air cargo industry to grow so it can better understand how to tailor regulations for each sector. New pilot participants will not be accepted during the new extension.
   The extension will also provide participants with the additional opportunity to adjust and test business procedures in preparation for the forthcoming rulemaking, according to CBP.
   Brittin said ACAS was simpler when it only involved express carriers, who operate closed networks in which they control every aspect of a shipment from pick-up to delivery, including managing shipment data with sophisticated IT systems, tracking packages and freight, and communicating with the customer. When the model was expanded to include all-cargo carriers, passenger airlines, and forwarders, getting all the data became more of a challenge because the information resides with different parties, who have different levels of technology capability and must transfer the data up the chain to the carriers or figure out how to directly connect with CBP’s system.
   TIACA and other groups are working with the International Civil Aviation Organization and the World Customs Organization to develop a standardized global approach to advance screening of air cargo. The European Union and Canada are the only other governments at the moment actively seeking to adopt the security concept.
   CBP’s delay “is the right approach,” Brittin said. “Yeah, it’s taking a long time, but we in the industry would prefer that all aspects of it be thoroughly tested and done properly before CBP security regulations are implemented.”
   That approach is preferable to the one taken by the European Union, which recently promulgated rules for advance submission of air cargo data even though officials have admitted it will take another three to four years to flesh out the details and properly implement the system.
   “We can’t afford to have three different systems and mitigation protocols. Until we get more global standards, we don’t want anyone stepping forward,” Brittin said. 
   “The key to all this is keeping everyone in the loop about what is being learned in the pilot process, because we don’t want people going down a rabbit hole putting in IT systems and everything else” before the best approach is determined, Brittin said.
   CBP’s decision to delay the ACAS rulemaking was also influenced by a realization that getting the go-ahead from the White House would take longer than usual because of the presidential election, Mike Mullen, executive director of the Express Association of America, said.
   “Our hope is that the regulation will look just like the pilot, because the pilot works for us, it works for the government. If the procedures are the same as the pilot, I think the trade will be overwhelmingly supportive,” he said.

  Eric Kulisch is Trade and Transportation Editor of American Shipper. He can be reached by email at ekulisch@shippers.com.

We are glad you’re enjoying the content

Sign up for a free FreightWaves account today for unlimited access to all of our latest content

By signing in for the first time, I give consent for FreightWaves to send me event updates and news. I can unsubscribe from these emails at any time. For more information please see our Privacy Policy.