DHS to Vet Private Aircraft Passengers

By Matthew Harwood

Last Tuesday, on the anniversary of 9-11, the Department of Homeland Security released its new notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to further plug up holes in the nation's aviation security.

According to the DHS press release:

The NPRM, Advanced Information on Private Aircraft Arriving and Departing the United States, expands existing regulations that will require pilots of private aircraft to provide electronic manifest data for all persons traveling onboard to the United States Government one hour prior to departure to and from the United States by filing manifest data via CBP’s eAPIS system or an approved alternate system.

The NPRM would require operators of private aircraft to provide the following information no less than 60 minutes prior to departure from or to a foreign port or place: advance notice of arrival, complete passenger and crew manifest data and aircraft information to foster aircraft identification, tracking and communication.

Under current regulations, private aircraft must signal their intent to land to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) usually an hour before doing so, but it can vary according to location.

DHS says the rule has been created to address the possibility private aircraft will be used to shuttle terrorists into the United States.

Approximately 400 non-commercial private aircraft enter the United States every day, according to government numbers, with most flights transiting through the Caribbean, but originating in more distant ports.

All persons on board the plane, states the new rule, will be vetted against government databases to check if they are on a terrorism watch list.

The government does not expect any fees to be associated with the new rule, although they estimate the proposed rule to cost $9 million annually and $66 million over 10 years.

Nor does the government see the rule as being a burden to general aviation operations.

Preflight preparation and flight planning typically requires at least one to two hours to perform. The E-APIS submission process has been designed to integrate seamlessly within these existing activities.

DHS says there will be exemptions to the rule for emergency landings.

The rule is scheduled to take effect February 19, 2008.

For more information on the new rule, see this Frequently Asked Questions factsheet from DHS.



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