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Aviation is an industry with global reach and international relationships, but national borders still matter, especially when it comes to US aviation technology. For use beyond America’s shores it must be properly licensed under the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR), established in 1976 to improve national security.
If you’re wondering what this has to do with aviation, peruse the United States Munitions List. On page 39, under Item 9—Category II, you’ll find “instrumentation, navigation, and direction finding equipment,” which includes “integrated flight instrument systems.”
Item 10—Category II covers “Flight Control Systems” and its technology, including the “integration of the flight control, guidance, and propulsion data into a flight management system.”
And Item 11—Category II covers “Avionics,” with special interest in radar and laser radar systems (including altimeters), GPS, and systems capable of terrain mapping.
All of these systems can be easily modified to fly an unmanned aerial weapon to its target, says Luke Ribich, ASIG’s managing director, so the government likes to keep track of them.
It starts with the State Departments’ Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, keeper of the Munitions List. Another important player is the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, which publishes the Commerce Control List. Intimately connected to multinational agreements and international relations, the CCL changes frequently.
The point, Ribich says, is that export requirements for aviation technology is a complex regulatory labyrinth, and the penalties for taking a wrong turn can be expensive, often measured in seven figures, with jail time. Things have gotten even more serious since 9/11.
Earning and maintaining an export license is a substantial investment, Ribich says. Given its complexity and consequences, it demands the full attention of dedicated resources. That’s fine for companies like ITT, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, and ASIG, but an operator who periodically needs this expertise, not so much.
Serving operators worldwide, ASIG maintains its export license as part of its comprehensive menu of engineering and certification services. By drawing on this international expertise for out of the ordinary projects, operators can focus on the demands of their daily operations, Ribich says. “Export can be easily done,” he continues, “if you’re set up with a State Department-approved ITAR-licensed export program.”
With many transport category aircraft owned by international leasing companies, export regs are important considerations. Giving an example, Ribich says several years ago a US operator sold its N-registered aircraft to an overseas company who, in turn, leased them to an European operator who registered them in its homeland.
“The leasing company is now leasing them back to the original owner,” and ASIG is reconfiguring them to the new (original) operator’s standards, taking care of all the government approvals so they will be FAA-approved when they return to America.
“We didn’t have any ITAR items in that project,” Ribich says, but ASIG knows that because it checked every system against the applicable regs. When it comes to national security, the government isn’t known for a lenient sense of humor, and ignorance is no excuse for not complying with the requirements.
Until next time, stay 5x5, mission ready, and Wired!