US Modifies Tariffs on EU-Sourced Aircraft Fuselage, Wing, and Stabilizer Assemblies

The United States published a modification of the tariffs on aircraft and aircraft parts imported from Europe. The modification goes into effect today. The modification continues tariffs for certain aircraft coming from the EU and expands the tariffs to also include certain major assemblies (certain fuselage, wing, and stabilizer assemblies).

Tariffs are descriptions of taxes imposed on the import of goods. The tariffs are published in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Each tax described in such a tariffs is known as a “duty.” Duties are typically paid by the importer.

As we’d previously reported, in 2019 the U.S. Trade Representative announced a preliminary proposal to implement new tariffs on a range of European products with a significant focus on the civil aviation sector, including both parts and completed aircraft. This resulted in the imposition of certain “section 301” punitive tariffs on aircraft products from the European Union. The additional punitive tariffs are published in chapter 99.

The modification clarifies that fuselages and fuselage sections, wings and wing assemblies, horizontal stabilizers and vertical stabilizers for certain large aircraft are subject to an additional 15% duty when they are products of France or Germany (particularly under HTSUS 8803.30.00). The additional tariff is referenced under 9903.89.61. This appears to be limited to assemblies for aircraft that are already subject to the 15% duty (large aircraft from certain EU countries under HTSUS 8802.40.00) which can be found under HTSUS 9903.89.05.

The good news for many ASA members is that this new expansion does not include airplane parts, components, or sub-assemblies (e.g., aft pressure bulkheads, floor panels, seats) that are imported unattached to the described articles. The 15% duty is limited to complete assemblies meeting the tariff descriptions.

The relevant descriptive language (establishing the scope of the tariff) is found in note 21(t) from HTSUS Chapter 99:

(t) For purposes of subheading 9903.89.61:

(1) “Fuselages and fuselage sections” means: (a) the complete, tube-like structure comprising the central body portion of an airplane, including accommodations for crew, passengers, and/or cargo, whether or not containing systems, insulation, or other articles; and (b) sections of articles described in (a) that have exterior side surfaces attached to exterior top/crown and bottom/keel surfaces, whether or not designed to be pressurized, and whether or not there are additional articles attached. The term “fuselages and fuselage sections” shall not cover airplane parts, components, or subassemblies (e.g., aft pressure bulkheads, floor panels, seats) when imported unattached to the articles described in (a) and (b) of this subdivision.

(2) “Wings and wing assemblies (other than wings having exterior surfaces of carbon composite material)” means: (a) left or right handed outboard wing structures with fixed structures, whether or not also including moveable structures, having exterior surfaces of other than carbon composite material; (b) center wing boxes having exterior surfaces of other than carbon composite material; and (c) wing assemblies that combine an outboard wing structure with a fixed structure (whether or not having moveable structure) and a center wing boxes, having exterior surfaces of other than carbon composite material. The term “wings and wing assemblies (other than wings having exterior surfaces of carbon composite material)” shall not cover airplane parts, components or subassemblies when imported unattached to the articles described in in (a), (b), or (c) of this subdivision.

(3) “Horizontal and vertical stabilizers” means a horizontal or vertical stabilizer, whether or not attached to elevators or fuselage/tail cone/empennages structures. The term “horizontal and vertical stabilizers” does not cover elevators or rudders when imported unattached to a fuselage, tail cone, or empennage structure.

Such subheading shall not cover other parts of airplanes or helicopter not covered by the definitions set forth in this subdivision.

HTSUS Chapter 99, Note 21(t) (2021)

Also certain tooling from Germany under HTSUS chapters 82 and 84 remains subject to a 25% tariff and this list has been repeated in the recent modification.

This is a complicated area of the law and it is important to carefully review the applicable base tariff code, the applicable additional tariffs under chapter 99, and any exceptions (typically described in the chapter notes). For example., there may be exceptions for certain goods entered into the United States under HTSUS Chapter 98, which includes U.S.-goods-returned and articles temporarily imported into the U.S. for maintenance with the expectation of returning them to their non-U.S. owners. This area of the law is also constantly changing so be sure to look up the applicable tariffs with every import!

About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. Since 1992, he has represented aviation trade associations and businesses that include aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturers, distributors, and repair stations, as well as both commercial and private operators. Blog content published by Mr. Dickstein is not legal advice; and may not reflect all possible fact patterns. Readers should exercise care when applying information from blog articles to their own fact patterns.

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