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HQ 952235

NOVEMBER 4, 1992

CLA-2:CO:R:C:M 952235 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 9031.80.00

Mr. Michael Mitchell
Chief, Customs Information Exchange
United States Customs Service
6 World Trade Center, Rm. 450
New York, NY 10048

RE: Digital Flight Data Acquisition Management Unit (DFDAMU); Apparatus Consisting of a Flight Data Acquisition Unit and a Flight Data Recording Unit; Apparatus for Processing and Recording Flight Data; Heading 9031; Electrical Machines and Apparatus; Heading 8543

Dear Mr. Mitchell:

This is our decision on a difference in the classification of a digital flight data acquisition management unit from France. This case originated at the port of Seattle.


The DFDAMU is apparatus for collecting and recording data on aerodynamic flight variables. It is a redundant backup that does not function as a navigating instrument. It is designed to permit the post-flight review and analysis of a plane's aerodynamic performance.

The DFDAMU consists of two sub-assemblies, a digital flight data acquisition unit (DFDAU) and a digital flight data recorder (DFDR). These units are connected by a cable. Submitted literature depicts the DFDAU and DFDR in use with a flight recorder control panel, accelerometer, and a copy recorder for onboard readout of stored data.

In operation, sensors at points on the plane's control surfaces supply parameters of airplane flight systems such as elapsed time, engine pressure, air temperature, airspeed, ground speed, localizer deviation, vertical, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, pitch, roll, etc. to the DFDAU. Some of these signals are in analog form and some in digital form. The - 2 -

DFDAU processes the digital signals, converts the analog signals to digital, then sends the entire output to the DFDR where it is recorded/stored in integrated circuits or on tape. The literature states that the DFDAU "processes" the acquired data for use by the DMRU and that the DMRU "processes, monitors and records" the data received.

The import specialist at the sending port proposes to classify the DFDAMU under the provision for electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in [chapter 85]...flight data recorders, in subheading 8543.80.40, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). He cites New York ruling 860247, dated February 27, 1991, in support of this classification. He contends that flight data recorders are specifically named in a chapter 85 subheading at the 8-digit level. Therefore, legal note 1(m) to section XVI, which excludes goods from chapter 85 if they are provided for in chapter 90, does not apply.

The National Import Specialist maintains that the provision for measuring [or checking] instruments, appliances and machines in heading 9031 encompasses devices that carry out steps in a process of measuring. He cites HQ 089391 for the proposition that data acquisition/recording machines such as the one in issue are primarily used in measuring applications. Therefore, section XVI, legal note 1(m) operates to preclude the subheading 8543.80.40 classification.


Whether the DFDAMU is a measuring instrument, appliance or machine of heading 9031 or is provided for in another heading of chapter 90.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

The paramount rule of tariff classification is GRI 1. Therefore, the terms of the headings plus all applicable legal notes must be considered. The DFDAMU cannot be classified in heading 8543 if it is provided for in heading 9031 or any other heading of chapter 90. It is noteworthy that the provision in subheading 8543.80.40 is for flight data recorders. The apparatus in issue is not merely a flight data recorder. Also, heading 8543 covers all electrical apparatus not falling in - 3 -
any other heading of chapter 85 or not covered more specifically by a heading of any other chapter in the HTSUS.

HQ 089391, dated February 6, 1992, held that data recorders used as components in measuring systems that include sensors and display devices were measuring instruments of heading 9031 even though they did not perform any actual measuring function themselves. The data recorder in HQ 089391 did not perform any measuring function but was connected to a computer or oscilloscope that interpreted the recorded data. The device was used to record electronic signals in a process of measuring. HQ 089391 confirmed the common meaning of the term "measure" as "to ascertain the quantity, mass, extent, or degree of [something] in terms of a standard unit or fixed amount" and concluded that measuring instruments, appliances or machines encompass devices that carry out steps in a process of measuring. (Emphasis added).

A submitted drawing depicts the DFDAU and DFDR in operation with an accelerometer, a device for measuring the force that is exerted when a body possessing inertia is accelerated. Sensors in the accelerometer ascertain the phenomena being sensed, measure or analyze it, then send the measured data to the DFDAU. As depicted, the DFDAU and DFDR do no measuring or analyzing, but carry out steps in a process of measuring. The DFDAMU, consisting of the sub-assemblies DFDAU and DFDR, are encompassed by heading 9031.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the DFDAMU is provided for in heading 9031. Actual classification is in subheading 9031.80.00, HTSUS, as other measuring or checking instruments, appliances and machines.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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