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New Regulations for Border-Crossing Aircraft

By Charlie Spence

General aviation aircraft flying across a border into or out of the United States will have to meet new security requirements under regulations developed by the Department of Homeland Security. They call for submitting passenger manifests and other information at least 60 minutes prior to takeoff to or from a foreign port or place. This final rule is effective on December 18, 2008. Private aircraft pilots (or their designees) must comply with the requirements of this final rule on May 18, 2009.

Although most flights from nations overseas are corporate jets, which are subject to the same rules, the new regulation will be felt by personal and family-flown aircraft coming into the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. The Federal Aviation Administration rule announcement said 138,559 general aviation aircraft entered the U.S. from foreign nations in 2006, the last date for which data was available when the notice of proposed rule making was issued. Fort Lauderdale International Airport had the largest number'more than 12,000. West Palm Beach airport was next with more than 9,000 entries. Many cities in Texas and Arizona received international general aviation flights from Mexico and Bellingham, Washington was the main airport of entry in the northwest. In addition, international flights used 223 other airports. The average number of passengers aboard these flights was 3.3.

The advance notice of arrival must include the following information for each individual aboard the aircraft:

  • Full name'last, first, and if available, middle
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Citizenship
  • Country of residence
  • Status on board the aircraft
  • DHS approved travel document (passport, Alien registration card, etc.)
  • DHS approved travel document number, if required Address while in the United States

The notice of arrival must also include the following information about the aircraft and, where applicable, the pilot:

  • Aircraft tail number
  • Type of aircraft
  • Call sign, if applicable
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued decal number, if available
  • Place of last departure Date of aircraft arrival
  • Estimated time of arrival
  • Estimated time and location of U.S. border crossing
  • Name of intended U.S. airport of first landing, unless exemption has been granted under '122.24 of FAA regulations or if aircraft was inspected by CBP officers in the U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Owner/or business entity name
  • Owner or lessees name, address, telephone number, fax number, email address
  • Pilot name
  • Pilot license number
  • Pilot's street address
  • Country of issuance of Pilot's license
  • Aircraft colors
  • Complete itinerary - foreign airports landed at within the previous 24 hours
  • 24-hour emergency contact point.

For aircraft departing the United States, similar information is required and the aircraft is not permitted to depart the U.S. until CBP receives the information and grants permission by electronic mail or telephone.

This is the first major general aviation regulation issued by the Department of Homeland Security. It will not be the last. No additional ones are expected until the Democratic administration takes office and new personnel take over at the FAA, Department of Transportation, and Homeland Security. The time for comments about rulemaking relating to aircraft over 12,400 pounds has been extended into February, 2009. Proposed security rules for aircraft under that weight are expected later in the year.