U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday said it is opening up its Air Cargo Advance Screening pilot to any interested companies.
ACAS is an 18-month-old program created in the wake of the Yemen air cargo bomb plot under which a select few air transport providers agree to electronically provide seven data elements about their consignments as early as possible prior to departure so CBP can run them through threat-assessment software and order any necessary inspections.
The demonstration program began with the four global express carriers. Earlier this year a second phase was launched involving passenger airlines and freight forwarders, which operate differently than the integrated express carriers and do not control all the shipping data from end to end. CBP officials want to learn about each air cargo business model to tailor an eventual mandate for advance cargo data to each industry segment. They have expressed special interest in attracting more forwarders of all sizes because of the vast differences in their capabilities and requirements.
In a Federal Register
notice, CBP said other express carriers, passenger airlines, forwarders, and all-cargo carriers beyond those originally selected are now eligible to apply for ACAS
. The addition of all-cargo carriers marks the third stage of the pilot, which is scheduled to last about six months.
ACAS participants can expect to incur additional expenses to get certified and deploy the necessary systems for exchanging data, but CBP said they also benefit by getting an automated status response before shipments are consolidated and loaded on the aircraft, and from reducing use of paper documentation.
The CBP message indicates if the shipment is ready to go. It can also ask the carrier or forwarder for additional information, give instructions on how to physically check a shipment or instruct that it not be loaded.
CBP has processed more than 25 million ACAS transactions as of July 3. - Eric Kulisch