Urges Pilots To Tell Agency Why
It started out as a simple idea:
identify who is flying into the United States aboard general
aviation aircraft before they arrive. But the way the Customs and
Border Protection agency (CBP) wants to implement the plan is
unworkable, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots
Association... and AOPA is calling on pilots to tell the agency
As ANN reported, the CBP
proposal would require any general aviation pilot flying into or
out of the United States to file an arrival/departure notice and a
passenger manifest via the Internet at least one hour before
crossing the border.
"AOPA members have told us that it is difficult to find a
working telephone, much less a computer with Internet access, at
many of the international locations that they fly to," said Andy
Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "And
we're very concerned about establishing the precedent that a
government agency must give you approval before you can start a
flight in domestic US airspace."
AOPA urges pilots to file formal comments before the November 19
deadline, to make sure CBP understands the impact the proposal
would have on individual pilots.
In CBP's idealized world, AOPA says, pilots would log onto a Web
site at least one hour before flying across the US border, punch in
an ID and passengers' names, and then get an approval to fly.
But the reality is that pilots don't have universal access to
the Internet inside the United States... much less from a Baja
airstrip, or a Bahamian cay. And requiring pilots to land at
another airport with Internet access before crossing the border
just to be able to file a passenger list is impractical and an
"CBP must allow alternative means for operators of small
aircraft to file their arrival/departure notification and passenger
manifest, as the current system already does," said Cebula. "In the
real world, sometimes a telephone or radio call to flight service
is the best you can do. And they have to recognize that GA pilots
sometimes have to change schedules for weather or operational
considerations, and we need choices beyond the Internet to let
customs and Homeland Security know about changed plans for entering
or exiting the United States."