CLA-2 OT:RR:CTF:EMAIN H285036 ALS
Jennifer K. Weinel, Esq.
Assistant General Counsel-Export/Import
Northrop Grumman Corporation
1745 A West Nursery Road
Linthicum, Maryland 21090
RE: Ruling request regarding the tariff classification of an Inertial Measurement Unit
Dear Ms. Weinel:
This letter is in reply to your request on the proper tariff classification of the Northrop Grumman Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) model LN-200C. In addition to your written submission, our decision below also takes into consideration a teleconference meeting with Northrup Grumman officials on June 11, 2020.
The following facts are based on the information you provided, including the marketing document you provided with your submission. Generally, an IMU is an electronic device that measures and reports its motion using accelerometers and gyroscopes. They are components of inertial navigation systems and are used in aircraft, spacecraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, watercraft, and other vehicles. An IMU collects acceleration and rotational data and transmits that data to a separate computer. The separate computer uses the data to determine and track the vehicle's location, obviating the need for external inputs.
The LN-200C consists of a sensor assembly, three circuit cards, and a chassis. It is mounted on or in a vehicle. The vehicle supplies power to the LN-200C through cables, which are also used to transmit the data collected by the LN-200C. The sensor assembly includes three solid-state accelerometers that sense changes in linear motion and three solid-state fiber optic gyroscopes (FOGs) that sense changes in rotational motion. The three accelerometers are micro-mechanical devices made of silicon wafers and do not include any optical elements. The three FOGs are made of optical fibers, a laser diode that generates laser light, and a multifunction integrated optics chip. You assert that the LN-200C is properly classified under subheading 9014.20.60, HTSUS.
Is the Northrop Grumman Inertial Measurement Unit model LN-200C, as described above, properly classified under subheading 9014.20.20, HTSUS, as an optical instrument and appliance, or under subheading 9014.20.60, HTSUS, as an other instrument and appliance for aeronautical or space navigation?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification under the HTSUS is determined in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation ("GRI") and, in the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires, by the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation ("ARI"). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be "determined according to the terms of the headings 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, GRIs 2 through 6 may be applied in order. GRI 6 provides the following:
For legal purposes, 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 the above rules, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable. For the purposes of this rule, the relative section, chapter and subchapter notes also apply, unless the context otherwise requires.
The following headings and subheadings of the HTSUS are under consideration in this case:
9014 Direction finding compasses; other navigational instruments and appliances; parts and accessories thereof:
9014.20 Instruments and appliances for aeronautical or space navigation (other than compasses):
9014.20.20 Optical instruments and appliances...
* * *
Additional U.S. Note 3 to Chapter 90, HTSUS, provides the following:
For the purposes of this chapter, the terms "optical appliances" and "optical instruments" refer only to those appliances and instruments which incorporate one or more optical elements, but do not include any appliances or instruments in which the incorporated optical element or elements are solely for viewing a scale or for some other subsidiary purpose. [Emphasis in original.]
There is no dispute that the LN-200C is properly classified under heading 9014, HTSUS. You contend that the LN-200C is classifiable under subheading 9014.20.60 because it is not an "optical instrument" as defined in Additional U.S. Note 3 to Chapter 90, HTSUS. Specifically, you argue that the FOGs perform a subsidiary function because they receive light beams from laser diode components and then transmit the light to a discrete optical receiver card. You further contend that the FOGs perform subsidiary functions because they are dependent on the generation of light energy in order to perform their intended function. You also argue that even if the FOGs themselves are classifiable as an optical instrument, the LN-200C as a whole is an electrical instrument because it contains a number of electrical components that are integral to the operation of the LN-200C.
The scale example in Additional Note 3, supra, refers to the light source allowing the scale's measurements to be read but otherwise serving no purpose to the function of the scale itself. That is not the case here. Without the FOGs measuring the variations of light through the optical fibers, the LN-200C could not function. Thus, we conclude that the FOGs are in fact optical instruments that perform vital, not subsidiary, functions in conjunction with the other electrical components within the LN-200C.
You cite to CBP Rulings that you contend support your argument that composite machines that incorporate "a substantial number of mechanical and electrical elements in addition to an optical element were not prima facie classifiable as an optical instrument. CBP Ruling HQ 956326 (June 18, 1996) classified the plastic housing of an integrated laser radio terminal of heading 8525. CBP Ruling HQ 956839 (March 28, 1996) classified the "base assemblies with speakers" for a portable data collection terminal under heading 8473, finding that the portable data collection terminal is an article of heading 8471. These rulings do not involve articles of heading 9014 or even of Chapter 90, HTSUS, for that matter. The articles in the cases cited above are quite distinguishable from the article at issue here. Thus, neither of the cited cases are dispositive in this case.
As you note, CBP considered in a previous ruling the classification of an earlier model of the LN-200, which incorporated an FOG in a manner similar to the instant merchandise and was imported by another company. CBP Ruling NY N096831 (March 30, 1990). In NY N096831, CBP classified an earlier model of the LN-200 under subheading 9014.20.20, HTSUS. NY N096831 is distinguished from CBP Ruling HQ 955511 (January 19, 1994), in which CBP classified an inertial-based aircraft navigation unit under subheading 9014.20.60. In HQ 955511, there is no mention of the subject article incorporating any optical instruments that might have compelled CBP to consider subheading 9014.20.20.
Therefore, based on the foregoing, we conclude that the Northrop Grumman Inertial Measurement Unit model LN-200C is properly classified under subheading 9014.20.20, HTSUS, which provides for "Direction finding compasses; other navigational instruments and appliances; parts and accessories thereof: Instruments and appliances for aeronautical or space navigation (other than compasses): Optical instruments and appliances..."
By application of GRIs 1 and 6, HTSUS, the Northrop Grumman Inertial Measurement Unit model LN-200C is classified under subheading 9014.20.20, HTSUS, which provides for "Direction finding compasses; other navigational instruments and appliances; parts and accessories thereof: Instruments and appliances for aeronautical or space navigation (other than compasses): Optical instruments and appliances..." The 2018 column one, general rate of duty for merchandise classified in this subheading 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.
Please note that this ruling letter is "issued on the assumption that all of the information furnished in connection with the ruling request and incorporated in the ruling letter, either directly, by reference, or by implication, is accurate and complete in every material respect." 19 CFR 177.9(b)(1). The application of this ruling letter "is subject to the verification of the facts incorporated in the ruling letter, a comparison of the transaction described therein to the actual transaction, and the satisfaction of any conditions on which the ruling was based." See id. CBP therefore reserves the right to verify all facts as noted herein. Furthermore, this ruling letter will be "applied only with respect to transactions involving articles identical to the sample submitted with the ruling request or to articles whose description is identical to the description set forth in the ruling letter." 19 CFR 177.9(b)(2).
A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is entered. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the CBP officer handling the transaction.
Gregory S. Connor, Chief
Electronics, Machinery, Automotive, and
International Nomenclature Branch