September 23, 2008
By Alyssa J. Miller
During a Sept. 17 meeting with White House officials, AOPA voiced members’ concerns about a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) proposal that would require pilots to electronically provide advance notice and passenger manifests for general aviation aircraft arriving and departing the United States.
The White House Office of Management and Budget is reviewing the CBP rulemaking that garnered more than 3,000 public comments. This review is one of the last checks a proposal goes through before becoming a final rule. The rule is expected within the next few months.
“While the idea of telling Customs who is on the aircraft prior to entering the United States is OK with members,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs, “we reinforced the fact that the requirement to do this electronically would significantly impair general aviation operations.”
The original proposal would have made electronic filing the sole means of submitting Customs arrival/departure notification and passenger manifests. It also would have added a new requirement to notify Customs for approval of flight and passenger manifests at least 60 minutes before departing the United States.
AOPA explained to OMB officials that 88 percent of international travel is performed by light piston aircraft and that nearly 70 percent of AOPA members would fly their GA aircraft internationally less often if the proposal were implemented. Such a reduction would have an adverse effect on the economies of the United States and neighboring countries.
The association stressed that requiring passenger manifests to be submitted electronically is not workable. In fact, 63 percent of AOPA members said they do not have an Internet connection at their typical points of departure in other countries.
Alternatives to electronically filing the manifests should include telephone, aircraft radio, or flight service, AOPA told the OMB.
In addition, AOPA recommended eliminating the proposed requirement that pilots notify Customs before departing the United States and asked that aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds be exempt from the rule.
“It is essential to AOPA members that Customs alters its proposal to respond to concerns from the pilot community,” Cebula said.
AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Miller has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.
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