Border Security NOTAM Changes Sought

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Pilot groups in Canada and the U.S. are hoping the FAA backtracks quickly on a NOTAM posted Jan. 1 that is causing major inconvenience for some Canadian pilots and operators. The NOTAM tightened security regulations for aircraft not registered in the U.S., specifically requiring security waivers for foreign aircraft flying in U.S. airspace. What changed for Canadian operators is that the security measures included aircraft that were overflying U.S. airspace on their way to another Canadian airport.  The irregular border between the two countries makes such shortcuts commonplace in some areas of Canada. For instance, direct flights between Quebec and Nova Scotia take place almost entirely over Maine. The new requirements have added a layer of bureaucracy to such operations and resulted in extra time and expense for operators who have not completed the waiver process, which involves background checks. Canadian Owners and Pilots Association President Bernard Gervais said the NOTAM was issued without consultation with Canadian authorities or pilot groups. "COPA was blindsided and we have been working on this issue when alerted on 31st December at 7:30 p.m," he said. "We have been working with our US counterpart (AOPA)."

The two groups collaborated on draft amendments to the NOTAM that would permit the transit flights without the added security measures. They're now waiting for the FAA and TSA to approve the changes, which would allow transit flights as long as the aircraft are on a flight plan, have transponders and are in contact with ATC. Gervais said they'd hoped the amendments would be approved over the weekend but have since heard they will be discussed by U.S. authorities this week. Gervais said the lack of consultation is a serious concern to his group and he will bring it up with Canadian authorities. "There should have been prior notice to Nav Canada, TC, even perhaps to AOPA and then to our Canadian associations," he said.