CCS-UK Fallback ready to keep UK air cargo moving

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Left to right: BT Business and Public Sector director of contract management, David Bowen; HMRC deputy director - Customs, Laura Lucking; and CCS-UK User Group chairman, Steve Parker at the official announcement of CCS-UK Fallback

A new electronic fallback system to prevent a meltdown in the UK’s air cargo industry in the event of a prolonged outage of HMRC’s CHIEF system is ready for use having received formal approval.

‘CCS-UK Fallback’ will allow authorised traders to continue processing Customs export declarations in the event of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) suffering a significant outage and receive automatic fallback clearance to ship goods without delay.

Import entries will also receive fallback clearance, avoiding the backlogging that would result from manual Customs clearance.

Designed by BT for CCS-UK, the system will function for up to 30 days; as soon as CHIEF returns to normal operation, CCS-UK Fallback will transmit all stored entries for processing in the normal way.

In addition to providing protection from unplanned outages, CCS-UK Fallback will smooth the eventual transition from CHIEF to its replacement, CDS, enabling the air cargo industry to continue functioning as normal in the event of any teething problems with the new hardware or software.

DHL head of customs for Europe, Steve Parker says that having seen the impact a major IT systems failure can have on aviation, this cannot be allowed to happen to the UK air cargo industry.

Parker, who is also chairman of the CCS-UK User Group says: “With growing airfreight volumes through our major airports, the advent of Heathrow’s third runway, potential additional pressures on Customs systems following Brexit and an ageing HMRC computer system scheduled for replacement in the next few years, there has never been a greater need for the added resilience that this new feature will deliver.”

BT managing director – major business and public sector, Colm O’Neill says: “We’re urging the specialist IT systems providers for the air cargo community to update their products to take advantage of this new feature, while the industry as a whole should start training its staff so that everyone is ready to use the new function should we need to implement it.”

A series of trials are planned to test CCS-UK Fallback in a live environment, in which access to CHIEF will be temporarily suspended.