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Military aircraft: Frequently Asked Questions

Why doesn't DEC control all parts, if they know they are destined for a military aircraft?

DEC's technical assessments are independent of our export control policy criteria. This means that we only look at the goods themselves, not the end user or end use. The end user and end use for controlled goods are considered later, in the risk assessment process. Additionally, there are legislative options available to DEC, known as ‘catch-all controls', to regulate the trade in non-controlled goods that are destined for military use.

What are the catch-all controls?

When DEC considers the export of non-controlled goods, the risk assessment process determines whether the proposed export would contravene either the ‘military end use' (MEU) provisions of the Customs Act (Section 112BA of the Customs Act 1901 – referred to as the MEU (military end use) provisions - www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2012C00834) or the Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act (Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act 1995 - www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2010C00112).

If a non-controlled good is exported to an armed force or armed group, and that export may be for a military end-use that would prejudice the security, defence or international relations of Australia, then this may breach the MEU provisions (see www.defence.gov.au/ExportControls/MEU.asp). If a person supplies any item (or provides any service) that may contribute to a weapon of mass destruction program, this may breach the WMD Act (see www.defence.gov.au/ExportControls/WMD.asp).

If an applicant knows or suspects that their export may meet these criteria, they should contact DEC for advice.

I don't know what aircraft my goods could be fitted to

When DEC receives an application to export an aircraft part, we will use a variety of information sources to determine what aircraft the part could be fitted to. If our research reveals that the part is suitable for military aircraft (and it is not simply a generic part), we will apply a presumption of control unless evidence is presented to the contrary.  It is impractical for DEC to examine all possible civil aircraft; therefore, the onus is on the applicant to demonstrate to DEC that their part is suitable for a non-controlled aircraft. This also applies to engine parts, and to military engines that are suitable for a civil aircraft.

I want a licence to export a very large list of parts for my military aircraft. How can I determine which parts are unique and which are suitable for civil aircraft?

If an exporter applies to DEC for permission to export “Parts and components of XYZ military aircraft” as a single application, DEC will simply assess this as military aircraft parts. If an exporter wishes to have specific parts ‘exempt' from the requirements of export control (as they are suitable for a civil aircraft), then they need to individually demonstrate evidence for these parts to DEC. An export permission with a broad description of “Parts and components of XYZ military aircraft” may represent a smaller regulatory burden for an exporter of a large inventory of parts, provided that the exporter is willing to accept the conditions of the permission for all of their goods.

It is important to note that the export of uncontrolled goods does not require permission from DEC, so the decision to seek a broad permission covering controlled and non-controlled goods is at the discretion of the exporter.

This policy says that my goods are not controlled, but the Australian Border Force keeps stopping my shipments and asking for a permit

For aircraft parts that are destined for a military aircraft, or for those parts that are suitable for military and civil variants, it can be difficult for Australian Border Force officers to determine the control status of the goods based on the information in the export declaration. If it is suspected that a shipment may breach Customs law, the shipment may be held while the export declaration is referred to DEC for further assessment. If DEC determines that the goods are in fact not controlled, we will advise the Australian Border Force of the outcome of our assessment, which they may take into account when evaluating the export.

To avoid unnecessary shipping delays, which may have an adverse commercial effect, an exporter may wish to apply in advance to DEC for advice about the control status of their goods (see www.defence.gov.au/ExportControls/Status.asp). DEC will assess if the goods are controlled in the DSGL, and will also assess exports against the MEU provisions and WMD Act in the case of non-controlled goods. DEC will then issue an ‘Export Control Assessment' to the exporter, which may be presented to the Australian Border Force to facilitate the export.

What about sanctions?

Australia's autonomous sanctions regime, and our adherence to the United Nations sanctions regime, are administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) (see www.dfat.gov.au/sanctions/). It may constitute an offence under sanctions regulations to export certain goods to a country subject to sanctions, especially if those goods are considered ‘arms or related materiel'. If you wish to export aircraft parts to a country subject to sanctions, it is recommended that you contact DFAT for advice, in addition to any requirement to obtain export permission from DEC.