CBP expands ACAS pilot

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency announced that it has “formalized and expanded” its Air Cargo Advance Screening pilot program, which enables cargo executives to send and receive advance security filing data for their consignments. Although participation is still in a voluntary stage, the CBP and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration are championing the ACAS as the way to identify high-risk shipments earlier in the game.

The CBP explained in a press release that identifying high-risk shipments sooner provides it with time to conduct a comprehensive review of cargo data without impeding the flow of trade. Determining cargo that requires enhanced screening before it’s loaded on an aircraft also reduces paper documentation related to screening mandates, the CBP added.

And greater screening requirements are quickly approaching. In May, the TSA announced that it set a December 3 deadline for screening all cargo on U.S.-bound passenger flights. The 100-percent screening mandate was originally slated to go into effect on Dec. 31, 2011, but was pushed back due to industry feedback.

TSA Administrator John Pistole endorsed the ACAS pilot as a way forward during the AirCargo 2012 conference in Miami, held earlier this year. “The more intelligence that we can have on the front end, the better informed judgments we can make as to distinguish between known shippers and shipments by those who are unknown,” Pistole told conference attendees.

“If we can make decisions on the front end [about a particular parcel], then we can do a better job of working together to [block it from the flight],” Pistole added.

As of March, 14 million transactions have been processed through the ACAS pilot since it was implemented two years ago, following the thwarted Yemen cargo bomb plot.

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