DHS streamlines waiver procedure

 - August 26, 2010, 12:14 PM

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano chose a general aviation event–EAA’s AirVenture– to unveil a streamlined process for business aviation users to obtain international waivers for flights into the U.S., as well as an expanded version of a national security campaign.

NBAA and the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), in concert with other business aviation stakeholders, applauded the decision by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to eliminate a historically unpredictable and burdensome process for companies using business aviation to obtain waivers for entry into the country.

Business aviation users and federal security officials agree that the move will reduce the administrative burden and costly travel delays for industry that have beset the waiver program in recent years, while preserving stringent security protocols for U.S.-bound flights.

“Companies across the world that rely on business aviation will welcome today’s announcement, because it recognizes the importance of international commerce to the U.S., and the central role of business aviation in driving that economic activity,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen of the July 26 announcement. “This change will greatly reduce the barriers while maintaining essential security for companies wanting to bring their business and investment to the U.S.”

EBAA COO Pedro Vincinte Azua echoed the sentiment. “The streamlining of procedures for flying into the United States will not only alleviate the previously difficult–and costly–task of filing multiple forms and completing complex paperwork, but also demonstrates that officials recognize that having straightforward, yet secure, ease of access for international executives to U.S. markets is in the interest of the U.S. economy.”  

U.S., European Input
Under the TSA’s new procedure, the DHS will conduct its ­security review by coordinating with partner security agency Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to gather the data through the CBP’s electronic advance passenger information system (e-Apis). The approach is expected to be in use by September 1.

Introduced more than a year ago, the e-Apis program has proved relatively easy to use and highly ­effective in gathering data–including information about an aircraft’s owner, operator, passengers and intended destination–for each flight into or out of the U.S. Industry compliance with meeting e-Apis requirements is near 100 percent.

Bolen commended a number of government officials–including new TSA administrator John Pistole, associate administrator for transportation sector network management John Sammon and general manager for general aviation security policy Brian Delauter–for collaborating with the business aviation community on the new waiver procedure.

Also noteworthy to Bolen has been the work done by EBAA and its members, who met with government officials on multiple occasions to provide real-world feedback to agencies, which helped inform efforts to improve the waiver process.
“This latest achievement underlines the fact that with business aviation associations on both sides of the ocean united in their efforts, finding acceptable resolutions to the many transatlantic issues that confront us is more than possible,” added Brian Humphries, president and CEO of EBAA. ]