DHS Finalizes GA Border-Crossing Rule

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A final rule issued by the Department of Homeland Security this week is not as bad as it might have been for GA pilots, but it still will have an impact on all across-the-border operations. That's the bottom line from AOPA's analysis of the rule published Tuesday by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, which is part of the DHS. As initially proposed last year, the rule would have required pilots to file passenger manifests and other information via the Internet an hour before the flight, a problem for pilots who operate from remote and undeveloped airports where Internet access is not available. More than 2,900 comments were filed. "Thanks to pilot input, the CBP better understands the nature of GA operations and the remote areas that pilots often travel," Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs, said on Tuesday. The final rule offers various options for pilots to file the required information. "Pilots didn't get everything they wanted," Cebula said. Concerns remain over the type of information required and possible delays in approving flights. But, Cebula said, the revisions in the final rule are "proof of how influential general aviation pilots can be when they unite."

The rule will take effect on Dec. 18, and pilots will be required to comply with the new regulations starting May 18, AOPA said. DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Monday that GA pilots can also expect further rulemaking that will require GA flights to be screened and scanned for radioactive material at an airport outside the U.S. Although such screening is now required upon landing in the U.S., doing it on departure instead will prevent an attacker from flying a bomb into the country and detonating it in the air, Chertoff said.