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HQ 954192

SEPTEMBER 17, 1993

CLA-2:CO:R:C:M 954192 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8803.30.00

Area Director of Customs
110 S. Fourth Street, Rm. 137
Minneapolis, MN 55401

RE: PRD 3501-90-000137; Audio Management Unit; Audio Signal Centralizing Unit for the Airbus A320; Apparatus for Radio Communication Between Pilot and Passengers, Ground Crew; Radio Transmitting and Receiving Apparatus; Headings 8517, 8525, 8526, 8529; Parts Certified for Use in Civil Aircraft, Victoria Distributors Inc. v. United States, 57 CCPA 76, 425 F.2d 759; Section XVII, Note 2(f), HTSUS; Civil Aircraft Agreement (CAA)

Dear Sir:

This is our decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 3501-90-000137, filed against your action in liquidating an entry of radio communications apparatus from France. The entry was liquidated on April 20, 1990, and this protest timely filed on May 24, 1990.


The merchandise in issue is the Audio Management Unit (AMU) which functions as an interface between the user and various onboard radio communications and radio-navigational systems. The AMU collects both incoming and outgoing communications and navigational signals and directs them to the radio transmitters, receivers, or to the passenger address system.

Utilizing a control panel which is a part of this apparatus, the pilot or any crew member can select a communication mode (i.e., airport control tower, navigational system, passenger address function, etc.) he wishes to use. In the transmission mode the AMU collects the sender's audio transmission and routes it to the appropriate radio transceiver on board the A320. In the receiving mode, the AMU collects the designated signal received and directs it to the user's headset. The apparatus also determines the priority of various audio signals and allows - 2 -
the pilot to override other types of onboard audio signals. That is, using the AMU the pilot can break into the passenger entertainment system and communicate directly with the passengers. The AMU also has an interphone function that the user can select through the control panel to permit direct communication between the pilot and/or crew with ground support personnel, bypassing onboard transmitters and receivers.

The AMU was entered under the duty-free provision for other parts of airplanes or helicopters, in subheading 8803.30.00, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). You determined that the AMU is apparatus that directs signals for intercom use, and liquidated the entry under subheading 8517.81.00, HTSUS, a provision for telephonic intercom systems. In a submission dated September 9, 1993, counsel for the protestant advances alternative claims under provisions in chapter 85 for radio transmission apparatus whether or not incorporating reception apparatus, for radio navigational aid apparatus, or for parts of these apparatus.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8517.81.00 Electrical apparatus for line telephony or telegraphy: Other apparatus: Telephonic ...8.5 percent

8525.10.80 Transmission apparatus for radio telephony, radiotelegraphy...radiobroadcasting...whether or not incorporating reception apparatus: Other: Other...Free under the CAA

8526.91.00 Radio navigational aid apparatus: Other... Free under the CAA

8529.90.40 Parts suitable for use solely or principally with the apparatus of headings 8525 to 8528: Other: Assemblies and subassemblies consisting of 2 or more parts or pieces fastened or joined together...Free under the CAA

8803.30.00 Parts of goods of heading 8801 or 8802: Other parts of airplanes or helicopters...Free - 3 -


Whether the AMU is classifiable as radio transmission apparatus or as parts of such apparatus.


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 Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the Customs Cooperation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the notes should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80.

Articles of chapter 85 are precluded from classification in subheading 8803.30.00. See Section XVII, Note 2(f), HTSUS. Therefore, if the AMU is provided for in any of the competing chapter 85 provisions it must be classified there.

Relevant ENs at p. 1360 state that goods of heading 8517 are apparatus for the transmission between two points of speech or other sounds by variation of an electric current or of an optical wave flowing in a metallic or dielectric circuit connecting the transmitting station to the receiving station. The AMU does permit direct voice communication between persons. However, it also functions to collect and route audio signals to onboard transmitters and receivers. As such, from the evidence of record we are unable to conclude that the AMU is described by heading 8517.

Relevant ENs at pp. 1374 and 1375 state that apparatus of heading 8525 is used for the transmission of signals (representing speech, messages or still pictures) by means of electro-magnetic waves which are transmitted through the ether (the medium that transmits radio waves) without any line connection. The AMU has a function (the collection and routing of audio signals) that conforms to this description; however, it also has a direct voice communication function which leads us to conclude that the AMU is a more diversified apparatus than that encompassed by heading 8525. - 4 -

There are no ENs that clarify the scope of heading 8526. However at p. 1375 the following are listed as examples of radio navigational aid equipment of heading 8526: radio beacons and radio buoys, with fixed or rotating aerials; receivers, including radio compasses equipped with multiple aerials or with a directional frame aerial. By design and function, the AMU is not compellingly analogous to these apparatus.

Finally, as to the claim under heading 8529, in addition to meeting the test of sole or principal use, one line of cases holds that a "part" for tariff purposes is an article that in some way contributes to the safe or efficient use of a larger article. Victoria Distributors, Inc. v. United States, 57 CCPA 76, 425 F. 2d 759 (1970), and related cases. In this case, counsel has not demonstrated whether, or in what respect, the AMU is part of a larger apparatus encompassed by headings 8517, 8525, 8526, 8527 or 8528; nor is there evidence in the record from which we can independently determine the validity of the claims.

We conclude that neither the provision under which the entry was liquidated, nor any of the claimed chapter 85 provisions apply. Therefore, section XVII, note 2(f), HTSUS, does not operate here. We further conclude that by its design and function, the AMU is apparatus that permits the pilot and crew to transmit and receive data in the form of audio signals. This is a function that contributes to the safe and efficient operation of the A320, particularly where a navigation function is involved. The AMU therefore qualifies as part of an aircraft of heading 8802.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the Audio Management Unit (AMU) is provided for in heading 8803. Actual classification is in subheading 8803.30.00, HTSUS, as other parts of airplanes or helicopters. The rate of duty is free.

The protest should be allowed. A copy of this decision should be attached to the Customs Form 19 and forwarded to the protestant, through counsel, as part of the notice of action on the protest.


John Durant, Director

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