U.S. Customs and Border Protection Member Action Center--Pilot Comments

U.S. Customs and Border Protection NPRM Member Action Center

What other pilots are saying

I fly several personal recreational trips to Mexico. To communicate electronically with the DHS from Mexico could be an extreme hardship. It is nearly impossible to get a decent weather report, phones are unreliable and the only internet connection I've found was in a coffee shop. It has been extremely stressful simply contacting border agents and getting weather reports by phone prior to departure. I believe it will compromise safety if pilots feel the added pressure to fulfill commitments and possibly fly under unsafe conditions. Your average general aviation pilot wants to follow the rules and may make poor decisions in an effort to avoid enforcement actions, penalties and unwarranted delays. I understand the concept but maybe pilots could provide the most accurate information possible regarding their return flight prior to leaving the US. Yet be able to return without fear of enforcement action and unwarranted delays if there has been an error or change of plan. At this time returning to the US is reasonable. We have deplaned and agents have been very thorough. I don't understand this change if everyone on board has a US passport and can be checked out. Please reconsider.

Sir, we fly every now and then into mexico on vacation, in our private plane. To do this, we already have to fill out mountains of paperwork, including a flight plan, plane registration, plan de vuelo in mexico, and check in when arriving in mexico and when returning to the states. please do not place more unnecessary burdens of beauracracy on these little trips. There is essentially 0 risk in the private aircraft flights to and from mexico.What will happen, if this new action is passed, is all these flights will just go away, because you will have killed them with paperwork. I know that is not your intent. The laws that we need are already in place. Please do not take more of our freedoms away with excessive laws. Therefore, i ask that you do not enact these regs of 60 minute before and after electronic checks. It cannot work. Call me if you would like to talk. —Dr. Leigh Taliaferro

I have been flying general aviation aircraft for 39 years now. I fly to Canada a couple of times a year to visit friends there and to Mexico up to four times a year for the Flying Samaritans. The Flying Samaritans is a non profit, all volunteer organization with chapters throughout the south west. We are made up of medical professionals, teachers, college students in those categories, translators and pilots. Our chapter here in San Luis Obispo, Ca. serves a small farm community in San Quintin, Baja Mexico. They have a small catholic hospital that lacks the funds for adequate staff and for serving the farm familys who cannot pay. We provide free expert care three special days each and every month. This service not only provides an extreme health need in the area but also builds solid trust in the people for the "Ameicanos". If this new proposal becomes law it will put an end to this volunteer humanitarian service because it depends entirely on volunteer pilots- and with only very limited phone service between San Quintin and San Diego FSS and no wi fi for internet access and the need to sometimes change our route or time schedule to weather or mechanical problems- it would appear to make it impossible to abide by the new requrenments. We undersrtand "Homeland Secuities" concerns but we believe that the present system of alerting our customs people an hour in advanced of our going and returning along with adding the pilot's and all passengers names and passport numbers to the information now given, along with the fact that no one in the plane, upon landing at the nearest US airport of entry, can dissembarc until a customs officer comes to the plane should provide sufficient security. Sincerely James H. Maul, General Aviation Pilot for 39 years

This proposed rule change will create serious problems for both general aviation and the government. I have flown annually to Mexico in my Cessna 182 and my brother flies regularly between the Bahamas and Florida in his Cessna 207. In my personal experience, the current system works. I have used both Brown Field in Sand Diego and Yuma AZ as my port of entry and the one hour notice has allowed me the option to modify flight-plans were they ever required for any airport closure due to weather or other unforseen problem. And getting the squawk code from FSS has never been an issue. In my opinion, the proposed rule change would not be practical because the communications infrastructure in remote areas in Mexico is non-existent. Another problem with the proposed regulation is the requirement of providing and maintaining an itinerary for 24 hours after departing the US. The reason for my trips to Mexico are strictly pleasure and this regulation would eliminate my personal freedom to explore other parts of the area if I chose to do so. And if I carry passengers on future flights to Mexico under this proposed regulation, I am going to be held responsible for the accuracy of the information I am provided. Unless I have access to a background check, no-fly list and other identity safeguards, how can I be expected to guarantee the accuracy of the information? In my sincere opinion, this proposed regulation would not only hinder general aviation and the businesses we support, it would also fail to provide any significant improvement in national security since the measures are cumbersome and in many instances impossible given the foreign destinations' communications infrastructure. Again, I urge you to maintain and improve upon the current system rather than imposing this regulation on us.

The proposed regulations concerning advance passenger manifests for private aircraft is nearly untenable for travel to and from the Bahamas. We fly from Florida (Lakeland) to Marsh Harbor frequently. The present rule to alert US Customs to return arrival by telephone within a one hour window is in itself a challenge. Access to Internet communication for returning travelers as described in the proposed rule would be nearly non-existent and would not be feasible. If this regulation goes into effect our travel by private aircraft to the Bahamas would cease. I am strenuously opposed the rule as set out. Some system such as Canada?s CANPASS system for 15 passengers or less would be a workable solution, Or leave in place current rules requiring presentation of passenger manifests upon landing for private aircraft. Allow this to continue for private aircraft carrying a limited number of passengers. Upon arrival all would be required to present passports, visas, or other designated documents. For the very few who are security risks entry can then be denied. This will not burden the thousands if not millions of travelers with the untenable rule as proposed. As a citizen of the US I am in favor of strong border protection. It is my belief that it is not the intention to stop travel, BUT, the effect of this rule would preclude legitimate travel to and from many of the countries on our border.

I view with great concern the proposed "one size fits all" requirement that private aircraft returning to the United States from foreign points be required to submit an elaborate manifest via computer 60 minutes prior to departure from the foreign airport. I am the owner of a small private aircraft, used exclusively for personal travel. I find it obvious the drafters of this proposal are either unaware or simply dismissive of the real-world conditions existing at locations frequented by many private pilots, in particular within Mexico. Simply finding an operational telephone, much less one that can be utilized for international calls, is frequently impossible and the idea that internet access will be available is a pipe dream. Even the current "south border" requirement for the telephone or radio transmission of arrival information to U.S. Customs one hour prior to port of entry arrival is frequently difficult and uncertain. Often after leaving various Mexican port of entry airports with no international communications facilities available I have been forced to climb to (for my aircraft) extreme altitudes in order to make radio contact with a U.S. facility while I am still one hour from the border. In these cases I at least have the option of circling south of the border to pad out the one hour requirement, but under the proposed rule I would not even be able to initiate an international flight from these Mexican locations. The proposed requirement for "clearance" before departing my U.S. airport for an international flight is obviously less onerous, but what is the justification? Why does CPB care if my wife and I are departing the USA? If the intent is to keep certain persons from departing America, then they should be imprisoned or restrained in some other fashion.