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HQ W968303

October 13, 2006

CLA-2 RR:CTF:TCM W968303 HkP


TARIFF NO.: 9015.40.4000

Mr. Leonard Fleisig
Troutman Sanders, LLP
Attorneys at Law
401 9th Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004

RE: Modification of HQ 967142; Protest no. 3901-04-100443; Leica ADS40 airborne digital sensor system

Dear Mr. Fleisig:

This is in reference to Headquarters Ruling Letter (“HQ”) 967142, dated September 17, 2004, in which the tariff classification of the Leica ADS40 airborne digital sensor system (“ADS40”) was determined under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) classified the ADS40 in subheading 9015.40.8000, HTSUSA, as a photogrammetrical surveying instrument or appliance, “Other”. We have reconsidered HQ 967142 and determined that the tariff classification of the ADS40 is not correct.

As an initial matter, we note that under San Francisco Newspaper Printing Co. v. United States, 9 CIT 517, 620 F. Supp. 738 (1985), the decision on the merchandise that was the subject of Protest 3901-04-100443 was final on both the protestant and CBP. Therefore, while we may review the law and analysis of HQ 967142, any decision taken herein would not impact the entries subject to that decision.

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. §1625(c)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed modification was published on September 6, 2006, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 40, No. 37. No comments were received in response to this notice. FACTS:

The ADS40 is an airborne digital sensor system, designed for aerial surveying and mapping applications, and was described in HQ 967142 as consisting of: a SH40 Sensor Housing which contains and protects the linear arrays; a lens (DO64 Digital Optics); a CU40 Control Unit - the personal computer running the operating system, and has a fiber optics link to the SH40, and includes a Position and Orientation System (POS), and a Global Positioning System (GPS); a MM40 Mass Memory, a removable array of high performance hard disks which receives the data from the SH40; a OI40 Operator Interface, which is a graphical user interface; and, Flight & Sensor Control Management System (FCMS) software which runs the ADS40 system. CBP classified the ADS40 in subheading 9015.40.8000, HTSUS, as other photogrammetrical surveying instruments and appliances.

Since issuing HQ 967142, CBP has learned that the linear array components of the ADS40 are rows of CCDs (charge coupled devices), that is, electronic devices capable of transforming a light pattern (image) into an electric charge pattern (an electronic image). A CCD consists of several individual elements that have the capability of collecting, storing and transporting electrical charge from one element to another. Each photosensitive element represents a picture element (pixel). One or more output amplifiers at the edge of the chip collect the signals from the CCD. The output amplifier converts the charge into a voltage. External electronics transform this output signal into a form suitable for monitors or frame grabbers. In a color image sensor an integral RGB color filter array provides color responsitivity and separation. Choices for array type include linear array, frame transfer area array, full frame area array, and interline transfer area array. See video-equipment.globalspec.com/LearnMore/ Sensors_Transducers_Detectors/Vision_ .


Whether the ADS40 airborne digital sensor system is an electrical photogrammetrical surveying instrument or appliance.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative section or chapter notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs 2 through 6 may then be applied in order. The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

9015 Surveying (including photogrammetrical surveying), hydrographic, oceanographic, hydrological, meteorological or geophysical instruments and appliances, excluding compasses; rangefinders; parts and accessories thereof: 9015.40 Photogrammetrical surveying instruments and appliances: 9015.40.4000 Electrical ..
9015.40.8000 Other ..

For the reasons set forth in HQ 967142, we find that the ADS40 is properly classified in heading 9015, HTSUS. Such reasoning is hereby incorporated by reference.

CBP previously classified the ADS40 in subheading 9015.40.8000, HTSUSA, as a photogrammetrical surveying instrument or appliances, “Other”. Leica has argued that the ADS40 is an electrical photogrammetrical surveying instrument or appliance and should be classified in subheading 9015.40.4000, HTSUSA.

GRI 6 provides that the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related subheading notes and, mutatis mutandis, to GRIs 1 through 5, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable.

Additional U.S. Note 2 to Chapter 90, HTSUS, provides:

For the purposes of this chapter, the term “electrical” when used in reference to instruments, appliances, apparatus and machines, refers to those articles the operation of which depends on an electrical phenomenon which varies according to the factor to be ascertained.

Leica has explained that one of the factors to be ascertained is the luminous intensity of an object. When light generated by the object being surveyed hits the photosensitive diodes of the CCD chip, it causes the chip to generate an electrical impulse. The analog digital conversion process converts the impulses for each image dot into digital values for brightness. Photons impinging on an individual CCD element cause an analog electrical signal to be created in proportion to the intensity of the incoming radiation. This explanation is supported by the product literature. For instance, the Technical Reference Manual for the ADS40, in describing the ADS40 “filter transmission characteristics” states:

In order to acquire multispectral data with the ADS40 one must attempt to isolate the desired wavelengths of light that reach the CCDs. The answer lies in the isolation of wavelengths through filtration, using specifically designed straight edged narrow band color and NIR filters.

The literature further explains that the ADS40 spectral bands, when measured in wavelengths of light (“nm”) are: Panchromatic 465-680 nm; Blue 430-490 nm; Green 535-585 nm; Red 610-660 nm; and Near infrared 835-885 nm. This split light is directed to the three CCD lines for RGB.

Because exposure to light causes the CCDs housed in the ADS40 to generate an electric impulse for the creation of images, and because the electric impulse generated varies according to the intensity of the light source (the wavelengths of light), we find that the ADS40 is an electrical instrument or appliance within the meaning of Additional U.S. Note 2 to Chapter 90, HTSUS. Accordingly, we find that the ADS40 is properly classified in subheading 9015.40.4000, HTSUSA.


By application of GRI 1 and GRI 6, the Leica ADS40 digital sensor is classified in heading 9015, HTSUS, as a surveying instrument or appliance, and is specifically provided for in subheading 9015.40.4000, HTSUSA, which provides for: “Surveying (including photogrammetrical surveying) instruments and appliances, : Photogrammetrical surveying instruments and appliances: Electrical.” The general column one rate of duty is Free.

Duty rates are provided for your convenience and subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the World Wide Web at www.usitc.gov.


HQ 967142 dated September 17, 2004, is hereby modified in accordance with the above analysis. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. §1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.


Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division

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