More than 2,000 comments have been submitted to the U.S Customs and Border Protection Agency regarding proposed requirements for international general aviation flights.
Opposition to the proposal was nearly unanimous.
Deadline for submitting comments has been extended to Dec. 4 for the proposal, which would require GA pilots to file online pilot and passenger information at least one hour before crossing any U.S. border.
GA pilots and alphabet groups say the rule would create requirements that are impossible to meet, because pilots flying into or from Mexico or Canada often use remote or unimproved landing facilities, such as grass strips and lakes. These locations don’t even have reliable telephone or cell phone coverage, much less Internet access, pilots say.
“The requirement for electronic data submissions of arrival and departure notifications and manifests completely ignores the practical reality of international flight in general aviation aircraft,” said Doug Macnair, vice president of government relations for EAA.
The proposed rule, called Advance Information on Private Aircraft Arriving and Departing the United States, is designed to strengthen GA security to “further minimize the vulnerability of GA and private aircraft flights being used to deliver illicit materials, transport dangerous individuals or employ the aircraft as a weapon,” according to a fact sheet compiled by Department of Homeland Security officials.
“Today, compared to regularly scheduled commercial airline operations, little or no screening or vetting of crew, passengers or aircraft on international GA and private aircraft is required prior to departure to or from U.S. Air Ports of Entry, some of which are well within U.S. territory and near highly populated areas,” the fact sheet continues.
To address this vulnerability, the department came up with the Electronic Advance Passenger Information System, along with some other programs including one under which overseas FBOs would help screen pilots and passengers. The department also is working on developing equipment that will screen aircraft for radiation and nuclear items.
The proposals have received some scathing comments from pilots, with many noting the burdens the rules would place on them.
“How will we be able to provide a transponder code one hour before takeoff when you can’t even get one in Mexico or Canada until just minutes prior to takeoff?” one pilot wrote.
“I disagree with your financial analysis of the costs involved with complying with these requirements. I must pay an additional amount for Internet access in a foreign country and I must pay additional costs for even talking on the radio in Canada, both of which will add financial costs that you don’t mention,” another said.
“Why are private aircraft treated differently from cars, truck, and boats?” another pilot asks. “Why are the same rules not applied to them? If the one-hour Internet access is so critical to national security, then every type of transportation should be mandated to comply with the one-hour notification requirement — aircraft, boats, cars, trains, bicycles, etc.”
Have an opinion? There’s still time to submit your comments on the NPRM.
To do it online, go to Regulations.gov, then select Department of Homeland Security, Proposed Rules, and enter docket number USCBP 2007-0064 in the drop down menus.
Submit comments via mail to: Border Security Regulations Branch, Office of International Trade, U.S Customs and Border Protection, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, (Mint Annex), Washington, D.C., 20229.