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EAA Voices Concerns About Proposed Requirements For International GA Flights

October 17, 2007 — EAA has several concerns about the recently proposed rule that would require all general aviation aircraft that fly internationally to submit electronic passenger manifests as well as arrival/departure notification at least 60 minutes prior to leaving or entering the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was in the Federal Register in September. It would require pilots of any private aircraft arriving in the U.S. from a foreign port or location, or departing the U.S. to a foreign port or location, to transmit the required information to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) via CPB's electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS). Pilots would have to receive confirmation/approval no later than 60 minutes prior to departure.

The rationale behind submitting manifests is to allow TSA to check names against terrorist watch lists prior to traveling to or from the U.S. Other elements of the proposed rule are in response to the 9/11 law signed by President Bush on August 3. 2007, while another provision of this proposed legislation satisfies a requirement for the TSA to conduct threat/vulnerability assessments of, and authorize funding for security at, GA airports.

Based on its initial review of the NPRM, EAA plans to submit comments on three main concerns:

  1. Electronic submission as a sole means to transmit manifests is not acceptable and does not accommodate the operating environment in which general aviation most often flies. Allowing telephone or radio submission via flight service is a must, and the ability to modify arrival/departure times and locations is crucial to accommodate safety and weather concerns.
  2. CBP needs to publish real-time procedures for pilots to follow in the event a passenger's name turns up on the "no-fly" list so flights are neither left stranded or unduly delayed due to administrative or clerical errors.
  3. EAA sees no justification for requiring pilots to file for flights departing the U.S.

Presently, GA pilots wishing to enter the U.S. provide Customs with 60-minute notice prior to arrival via telephone or as part of their flight plan filed with FAA flight service. Changes and updates to arrival times and locations can currently be made via air traffic communications when telephone service is not available in remote areas.

"The requirement that arrival, departure, and passenger manifests be submitted solely by electronic means will prove to be a significant burden on general aviation pilots, especially those operating from remote or otherwise undeveloped landing facilities," said Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of government relations. "Under the proposed rule, pilots operating from such remote sites would be required to land at a different airport--one with Internet access--to submit the arrival/departure and manifest information prior to entering or departing the country."

In addition, the proposed rule says nothing about passenger names that turn up on the terrorist watch list and does not provide any method for clearing up any confusion or concern prior to the flight.

Comments to the proposed rule must be submitted no later that November 19, 2007. To submit a comment electronically, visit www.regulations.gov, then select Department of Homeland Security, Proposed Rules, and enter docket number: "USCBP 2007-0064" in the dropdown menus.

For submissions via U.S. Mail:

Border Security Regulations Branch, Office of International Trade,
U.S Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, (Mint Annex)
Washington, DC 20229

The DHS has also provided several FAQs on the proposal on its website.

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