Customs

October 12, 2007

Pilots need more time to address problems in customs proposal

By AOPA ePublishing staff

GA industry groups join forces on cross-border proposal

By AOPA ePublishing staff


The Baja Bush Pilots also have requested an extension to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection proposal to allow its members more time to comment. The group represents pilots from the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Central American countries, and humanitarian organizations that routinely fly internationally to provide healthcare.

To gain a better understanding of just how much the border crossing proposal impacts general aviation, AOPA is working with its Alaska Regional Representative Tom George, the Baja Bush Pilots, Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, private operators, and foreign governments.

"These organizations have a vested interest in the outcome of this proposal, and a number deal directly with pilots who frequently fly internationally," said Rob Hackman, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs. "Working together will help us better understand the problems pilots would face under this border crossing proposal. Then we will be able to propose well reasoned, tangible alternatives."

CaribbeanA customs proposal that would require general aviation pilots flying internationally to submit flight information and passenger manifests online before entering or leaving the United States has serious problems. AOPA wants more time for GA pilots to determine the impact on their travel and develop suitable alternatives.

On Oct. 11, AOPA formally requested that U.S. Customs and Border Protection extend the comment period on its proposal from 60 to 120 days.

"A two-month extension is essential to ensure that the general aviation community, which will be significantly impacted by this rule, has an adequate opportunity to comment," wrote Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs.

The proposed rule would require all GA pilots flying out of or into the United States to file a passenger manifest via the Internet with customs one hour before taking off. That manifest would also have to be checked against terrorist watch lists.

AOPA believes the rule, which would only allow manifests to be submitted online, creates major obstacles for pilots departing remote airfields with limited telephone and Internet service.

Similarly, false hits against the terrorist watch lists would present significant challenges for pilots trying to resolve the problem from remote areas.

"Extending the comment period is essential to provide the general aviation community the opportunity to develop possible alternatives to address specific concerns within the rule such as the proposed electronic-only submission of passenger and other data to customs prior to border crossing flights," Cebula wrote.

AOPA also noted the wide diversity of international GA flights and the need for more time to better inform GA pilots of the issues surrounding their particular type of international flight‐whether it be a family trip to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or even a transoceanic flight in a corporate jet.

October 12, 2007