Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) Initiative

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration are planning to release the interim final rule for mandatory Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) requirements within the next six months, according to an article by Bryan Bradley of American Shipper.  The ACAS pilot enables participants submit a subset of the required advance air cargo data to CBP prior to loading. The goal of the pilot program is to further refine the advance air cargo security requirements ahead of the final rulemaking process.

ACAS is much like CBP’s Import Security Filing (ISF) which was implemented in 2009 for ocean cargo only.  ACAS was originally “put in place in 2010 after terrorists in Yemen attempted to plant printer cartridges laden with explosives on board cargo aircraft, [and] has remained a pilot program ever since.”

Decartes has a full article on ACAS FAQ’s, but we pulled out two we found to be useful to our audience:

The following seven data elements are currently included in ACAS pilot program: 

  • House Airway bill (AWB) number
  • Message sender
  • Shipper name and address
  • Consignee name and address
  • Weight
  • Piece count
  • Description of goods

Although often dubbed “ISF for Air”, there are several key differences that distinguish the ACAS initiative while also benefiting the industry: 

  • CBP is accepting pilot ACAS transmissions in various types of industry formats and mapping them to its database rather than requiring companies to adapt a government-imposed message structure.
  • The pilot was specifically engineered to ensure a cross-section of the industry is represented to fully encompass the dynamics and nuances of each industry niche.
  • ACAS was initiated in a matter of weeks due to the close cooperation of the air express industry and the clear need for electronic filing before take-off.
  • Previously, advance information had been provided to CBP via the Air Automated Manifest System (Air AMS), however not all parties were AMS filers. The ACAS model will enable all forwarders to provide advance house bill information into the ACAS targeting system should they choose to participate.
  • All of this is being done in a collaborative nature because the industry and CBP clearly saw the security hole with post-departure EDI transmission and the need for a quick rollout.