Fit to fly: Air Cargo regulation changes

All air cargo must be physically screened by EU-approved aviation.
European Union, Mail, ANALYSIS

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As of 1 July 2014 the European Union regulations state that all air cargo or mail carriers operating into the European Union from any Third Country Airport (ACC3s) must be physically screened by EU-approved aviation security or come from a secure supply chain that is EU aviation security validated.

Only air carriers that comply with this programme will be allowed to carry cargo or mail into the EU and verification must be undertaken by an independent validator, certified by an EU regulator. Individual ACC3 designation is required for every non-EU airport from which an air carrier imports goods to the EU.

Robert Wright, director of EU Public Affairs at Rapiscan Systems, which provides air cargo screening systems and advice to air cargo companies on regulatory compliance elaborated on the background to the changes: “In 2010, two improvised explosive devices were shipped as air cargo and detected at airports in the Middle East and Europe, which triggered the implementation of much higher levels of security requirements for all EU bound cargo and mail.

“Since 1 February 2012, regulations have required carriers of air cargo and mail entering the EU from non-EU airports to ensure security standards are met prior to loading.”

This is moving one step further from next month as further requirements set down in EU regulations apply to individual air carriers. “If you fly cargo or mail into the EU from non EU airports you must comply to continue doing business and cargo has to be screened with equipment that meets EU requirements,” Robert stated.

The EU regulations provide two different ACC3 designation options for air carriers and their business partners. For air carriers, on-site verification at each non-EU airport is required before designation is given for that specific airport.

Air carriers that operate multiple cargo or mail operations and have a security quality assurance programme that is equivalent to EU aviation security validation, may request on-site validations at a representative sample of airports.

Further conditions may apply and carriers will have to discuss this with the Member State responsible for its ACC3 designation.

If a carrier receives cargo or mail from partner companies then that partner may either be validated as part of the carrier’s on-site verification or it can submit its own cargo handling operations to validation by an EU aviation security validator. In the second case, its vital that carriers ask for the validation report as proof of a secure supply chain link.

All necessary validations, including on-site visits, need to be completed before 1 July 2014 in order for air carriers to obtain the necessary ACC3 status and carry cargo or mail into the EU.

As part of this, air carriers must provide a Declaration of Commitments to the civil aviation authority of its designated EU member state specifying how it has fulfilled its security responsibilities at every non-EU airport from which cargo or mail is flown to the EU.

The template for the Declaration of Commitments is set out in the EU Regulations.

“ACC3s must receive security validations of their cargo and mail operations at each non-EU airports by an Independent Validator who is certified by an EU regulator,” Robert explained.

If the ACC3 has the security controls applied by a business partner at non-EU airports then these entities (known consignors, regulated agents or ground handlers) must also have independent validation of their operations. All of these independent validations will have to be repeated every five years.

In terms of investment, carriers operating from ACC3s need to be prepared for the fact “there are compliance costs in terms of fulfilling the conditions,” Robert commented.

“There might be significant investment required if the screening equipment that they [carriers] have is not compliant with the EU requirements.”

Robert said it may need to be upgraded or replaced, and it’s non-negotiable.

“It’s a regulation and this has a direct effect upon European law...every ACC3 must be compliant by 1 July 2014,” he concluded.

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