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EAA: Proposed Border Law for GA 'Unworkable'

December 6, 2007 — While acknowledging the necessity for the U.S. government to secure its international borders, EAA strongly disagrees with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plan to accomplish it with regards to general aviation. This past Tuesday (December 4), EAA submitted comments to the DHS notice of proposed rulemaking, Advance Information on Private Aircraft Arriving and Departing the United States (Docket No. USCBP-2007-0064), citing significant safety, operational, procedural and legal issues that need addressing before the proposed program can be implemented.

EAA contends that the reporting requirements in the Congressionally mandated rulemaking proposal are impossible to satisfy. For example, the requirement for pilots to file, via the Internet, pilot and passenger manifest information at least one hour prior to crossing the border is unworkable as most foreign GA landing facilities lack the necessary Internet, cellular, or international phone line capabilities.

"Our major point is electronic submission is unworkable and we really want a single point of contact for the pilot to be able to, by way of FAA, deal with the requirements," said Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of government relations. "Pilots should not have to contact a separate government agency from a remote location in a foreign country simply to try to get permission to come back to their homeland. This needs to be part of the flight planning process."

EAA's other concerns with the proposal:

  • The potential operational conflict between existing requirements and those proposed in the NPRM will likely result in operational delays, significant inconvenience, safety risks, and costs that have yet to be addressed.
  • The lack of flexibility inherent in the proposal-method of communication, inability to modify plans in flight due to weather or other safety concerns; and the rigidity of having to file and adhere to a 24-hour itinerary-presents a significant safety threat that can neither be justified nor has been addressed in the proposal.
  • No recourse action or any other explanation is included for when a pilot's arrival or departure notification or manifest has been denied.
  • Pilots are legally responsible for meeting the notification requirements, but there is no explanation of what consequences (civil or criminal liability) a pilot might face should any of the information provided by a passenger be incorrect.
  • EAA fails to see why departure notifications and manifests are required for international travel from the U.S. abroad.

"We feel that the procedures do not take into account the operational environment of personal aircraft conducting international flights," Macnair said. "This is particularly true when these flights operate into and out of undeveloped or underdeveloped airports and/or unimproved landing facilities in foreign countries, as is very often the case.

"We're urging the DHS, FAA, and the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) to work together to design a notification and approval system that works seamlessly with existing international flight planning and in-flight operational procedures used by pilots operating to and from the U.S.," Macnair added. "The significant safety, operational, procedural and legal issues need to be addressed before any such program can be implemented."

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