Late last month, the UK Border Agency (UKBA), part of the Home Office, scheduled a workshop to involve major aviation stakeholders in exploring improvements to Britain’s general aviation reporting (GAR) system, under which business-aircraft operators give notice of inbound/outbound flights for security and counter-terrorism purposes.
UKBA, created from former customs and immigration government departments, plans to introduce enhanced GAR arrangements in the middle of the year, following industry criticism that current procedures are too bureaucratic and inconsistent in practice at different airfields, said central-region border-force director Marc Owen. He asked BBGA members for help in publicising system changes, which initially will run alongside existing arrangements.
Owen pointed out the industry’s inherent scope for risks to security given “around 4,000 known landing sites” in the UK and “obvious potential for illegal flights anywhere.”
No change is planned to required 4-, 12-, and 24-hour periods of notice for inbound flights from European Union (EU) countries, the Common Travel Area (Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) and non-EU countries, respectively. The CTA and non-EU notice periods also apply to UK outbound flights.
A second phase of GAR enhancement will provide automatic checking against security and crime databases and immediate alert notification of “hits” when matches occur, said Owen, who emphasised that compliance with notification requirements would “normally mean no delay on arrival.” –Ian Goold