Today is ACC3 Validation Deadline

Cargo carriers or regulated agents that haven’t been validated according to EU directives risk to be banned from shipping air freight into the community. Today (1 July) the deadline set by Brussels for all ACC3 contenders flying shipments into any of the EU countries ends.   

EU validator Matthias Haxter has a well-filled mileage account  /  source: hs
EU validator Matthias Haxter has a well-filled mileage account / source: hs

Trying to reach Matthias Haxter on the phone the last weeks and months was extremely frustrating. Either he was in Bangkok, Cairo, Baku, Muscat respectively at some other airports located in Africa, Asia or the Middle East or he sat in an aircraft. Lots of journeys and a life out of a suitcase, though.
Why? Because Matthias is a frequent traveler on behalf of the EU. His job: as Head of Training at specialist firm STI – Security Training International GmbH he has qualified to become an independent validator. As such he is an officially registered agent identified by his unique alphanumeric code DE-0005/DE3000, issued by the German aviation authority LBA. In this role the security expert is entitled to oversee handling processes, documentation of shipments, and the transmission of data at selected places outside the European Union, to check if all procedures are managed and accomplished according to EU provisions. Only then air freight flown out from those locations and destined to the EU is officially secure as demanded by the regulators, hence allowed to be flown to Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, Amsterdam or any other European airport. 

Validators swarmed out months ago
Matthias became an independent validator in summer of last year after having successfully passed some mandated training programs set up by IATA, a precondition for his official accreditation as validator acting on behalf of the EU by the national regulator LBA. After these formal requirements had been fulfilled, Matthias and with him some 80-plus security experts from different countries commenced acting as independent validators. Until now, they were almost omnipresent since time was running out. This, because some 3,000 cargo carrier stations at airports outside the EU together with some 2,000 regulated agents and known consignors had to be security checked by independent experts assuring they complied with EU provisions. This, because Brussels requires cargo carriers to obtain a designation called: ‘Air Cargo or Mail Carrier operating into the Union from a Third Country Airport’ (ACC3)’. If not, they are banned from transporting cargo to any of the EU airports.   

This new provision takes effect today (July 1st). 
No wonder that Matthias and his two colleague validators of STI, Ulrich Duennes and Robert Salzwedel, were extremely busy the last couple of months. Asked about his deployments he needs more than two hands to count them all. “Kuwait, Muscat, Dubai, Bangkok, Mumbai, Istanbul …” he goes on presenting his long list of city names. At certain locations like Delhi or Mumbai “I was able to validate various entities one after another, which saves time and costs.”
And what about their security practices?

“I honestly was pleasantly surprised how accurate security is handled there with people doing this job that are well qualified and who don’t differ from their colleagues in the UK, Scandinavia or Germany, for instance.” He goes on to say: “the technical equipment for controlling the goods was state-of-the-art with various double view X-ray machines for scanning the freight being in full use.” But what struck him most at the two Indian airports was the fact that armed security guides escorted each consignment from the warehouse to the aircraft stand. “That’s more than the EU requires,” Matthias says.

Encouraging impressions
Security problems he unveiled at some Arabian airports, predominantly at those with handling monopolies. “Those companies that lack a competitive environment are self-sufficient and not much interested in training their staff to adapt to latest security requirements,” Matthias says. “Their knowledge to interpret X-ray images correctly proved more than once to be inadequate,” he warns.
In average, he needs two days to monitor the security regime practiced at a given station, be it an airline, handling agent or forwarder. 
Once accomplished, he writes a final report recommending to officially license a station by the EU – or not.

Putting his validating experience in a nutshell, his conclusion is surprisingly positive. “Generally speaking, I was quite impressed with the high security standard practiced by carriers, airports or ground handlers at most places I had been at.”
Fact is, that as of today ACC3 contenders which have omitted a validation process will have a severe problem when intending to fly air freight to any EU destination. These black sheep risk the rejection of the consignments by the local authorities within the EU and being put on a black list.
But security expert Ruediger Suhrke of handling agent ths aircargo services GmbH is very relaxed. “The entire validation process went surprisingly smooth, so I don’t think there will be any hiccups in the coming days.” Validator Matthias Haxter of STI Security Training International fully shares this view. In the weeks ahead the manager should be reachable more easily by phone again. 

If he shouldn’t be on the road again, since the ACC3 validation will not be finished on 1 July. This is because most of the major airlines will have to continue their five year lasting program of validations. Also a lot of ground handlers and forwarders, licensed as regulated agents, will recognize their  RA3 validations as prerequisite or quality indicator to serve their clients in the future as done before. So the ‘show’ exercised by the three STI experts together with eighty or so more EU validators will go on in the coming months and years.

Heiner Siegmund

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