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Aircraft Parts, Commerce CCLs, Distribution, ECCNs and BIS, Export, ITARs

Is Export Reform Really In Our Future?

In his State of the Union Address, the President exclaimed “We need to export more of our goods.”  He explained that we will reform export controls consistent with national security.

In the past year, there has been much talk in Washington about export reform.  Export control laws need to be reformed.  When it is easier to export solid state gyros than it is to export archaic spinning mass gyros, there s clearly something wrong with our export controls.

I had a client trying to export gyros for avionics in a Part 23 aircraft.  The goal was to install original equipment in older avionics – not to raise the avionics to the most modern standards.  The gyros in question were spinning mass gyros based on a 60 year old design.  They had been designated as USML-controlled articles decades ago, although no one could identify a defense aircraft in which they had flown.  A State Department representative asked me “do you really want these gyros to end up in a missile aimed at the United States?”  I thought to myself “Yes – I would rather have these 60-year old gyros aimed at us than the modern and improved gyros found in a Wii video game controller!”

The State Department and the Commerce Department have wrangled over the civil aviation exception that was originally published in section 17(c) of the Export Administration Act of 1979.  This has lead to a great deal of uncertainty, especially for smaller companies who need clear guidance.

Even companies like Boeing are not immune. Boeing paid a $15 milion civil penalty for shipping 737 aircraft to China, after the Department of Defense decided to begin using the same gyros that were originally found in civilian aircraft in their missiles.

So there are clearly good reasons to reform export controls and inject a little sanity in the mix.

Aerospace manufacturers should keep a careful watch over the export rules as we begin to approach “reform.”  It is very easy for an apparent reform to turn into an impediment either because of inarticulately drafted standards or because of a lack of understanding on the part of those who draft the standards.


About Jason Dickstein

Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. He represents several aviation trade associations, including the Aviation Suppliers Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association and the Modification and Replacement Parts Association.



  1. Pingback: White House Says Exports Are A Priority – But Does Little to Make any Difference « MARPA - March 14, 2011

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