U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has implemented a program to scan general aviation aircraft for potential nuclear hazards as they enter the United States.
The agency already scans more than 90 percent of cargo containers, and also scans a percentage of ships, trucks, and cars entering the country for radiation with the eventual goal of scanning 100 percent of all incoming goods, people, and vehicles.
“In our conversations with Department of Homeland Security officials, they indicate that they are not singling out general aviation and that the initiative is part of a transportation-wide effort to secure the nation’s borders,” said Rob Hackman, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs.
The general aviation screening program for international arrivals took effect Dec. 30, 2007. It uses equipment that can detect the specific type of radiation being emitted, cutting down on false alarms caused by normally occurring radiation.
According to CBP, arriving aircraft will be asked to shut down their engines, auxiliary power units, and certain avionics. Officers will then scan the inside and outside of the aircraft. Passengers and crew may be asked to disembark during the scan. The entire procedure should take between five and 15 minutes and is not expected to cause arrival delays.
Pilots should report any significant delays or other issues that arise during the screening to AOPA at 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672).