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What does the EU ACC3 Air Cargo Regulation mean for airport operations?

As of today, a new European Union (EU) regulation has come into force, which affects the operations of all inbound air mail and cargo into the EU market.

The EU ACC3 programme is designed to ensure the appropriate screening and validation of cargo entering the EU from any Third Country Airport (ACC3s) has been carried out in accordance with aviation security screening procedures.

Any carrier that transports cargo into the EU has to meet the regulations. This means the airports themselves will also be affected by the regulatory changes and they may need to review and change how they operate in order to comply.

For those that do not meet the new requirements, and ensure they have a secure supply chain, they will be unable to continue doing business in the EU as they will not be authorised to carry any inbound mail, or cargo.

For airports, the lack of awareness and compliance with the ACC3 changes may pose a risk that their cargo and mail transfers and shipments will not be permitted into the EU. This would have a significant impact on business operations and could result in loss of revenue.

What should the airports do?

Throughout the process it is vital that the airports and carriers work closely together and co-ordinate their efforts to ensure they meet the security requirements laid out in the regulation.

In order to do this, airports will first need to check what the specific elements of the requirements are and analyse how this will affect the airport and the carriers they work with.

This can be achieved by contacting the appropriate authority of their EU Member State. Non-EU carriers and airports can locate their designated ‘appropriate authority’ by reading the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 748/2009 in which they are assigned to one specific member state.

The member state authority will provide all the relevant EU aviation security requirements, including non-public information. They will also inform them as to whether they need to apply additional security measures for certain non-EU locations or whether the ACC3 requirements are waived.

The EU regulations provide different ACC3 designation options.  For air carriers, option one requires an on-site verification at each non-EU airport before designation is given for that specific airport.

This means that the airport will need to be prepared for inspection and allow the validator access to the required areas for testing.

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

The need for EU approved screening equipment 

As a part of the new programme the ACC3s must ensure all cargo and mail carried to the EU is physically screened, or comes from a secure supply chain, which is EU aviation security validated.

Depending on the airports and carriers current business operations and current security measures, this may mean that carriers will need to update the security programme, processes and screening equipment.

The first step that airports should take is to contact their equipment supplier to ensure compliance and receive and additional information or training that is required.

If the equipment is not compliant, then they will need to work with the equipment provider to either provide an update to ensure it becomes compliant with the security requirements or they may need to invest in new equipment.

The security measures will need to meet the Independent Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards. In the event you carry out air cargo security screening the methods used must take place using equipment that meets current EU standards.

Securing the future of EU air cargo

All air carriers flying air cargo or mail into the EU from any non-EU airport must comply with the ‘EU ACC3 programme’.

Only those carriers, and the associated airports in which they operate, that comply will be allowed to carry cargo or mail into the EU and individual ACC3 designation is required for every non-EU airport from which mail or cargo is flown.

It is essential that airports contact the EU member state authority as the requirements are strictly controlled and confidential.

Without this validation and confirmation of the screening measures in place, airports and the carriers will find that their operations into the EU are going to be curtailed, leading to a severe impact on the day-to-day operations of the site.

Written by Robert Wright, director of EU public affairs at Rapiscan Systems

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