[Editor's Note: This letter was sent to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana), initially.]
I am writing in reference to the proposed new U.S. Customs and Border Protection rules per NPRM USCBP-2007-0064. These rules would be very burdensome, costly and impractical. It is obvious the author(s) have never flown a small airplane out of or back into the U.S.
I have been flying my small single piston engine airplane to Canada for many years, not only for business but also for recreation and personal visits with family and friends. When I fly to Alaska I have to fly through Canada. I vacation each Christmas season in Mexico and many times in Central America.
The proposed rule requires electronically contacting the Customs and Border Patrol one hour prior to departing the U.S. and one hour prior to departing from a foreign country when flying back to the U.S. Currently, we must contact the Customs and Border Patrol via telephone at least one hour prior to our arrival back into the U.S. and there is no requirement to call them prior to departing the U.S.
It would not be possible from many locations, such as fishing camps in Canada where there isn’t even telephone service, let alone Internet access. I have to fly to an on-course airport to get phone access. To get to public Internet access, I would likely need to fly to a larger airport and “borrow” a computer, as I do not own a laptop. In all of my travels I have never seen a “public” computer at any FBO, only weather computers at the larger airports. When departing from Mexico, it is a challenge to find a public telephone and my cell phone will not work in Mexico. Internet access would be out of the question.
In conclusion, I believe that whoever came up with these proposals should travel to these foreign locations in a small, piston powered, single engine general aviation airplane and try to do what they want us to do. They obviously have no understanding of what they are asking.