- June 30, 2011, 9:47 AM
The process through which business aircraft passengers and crew can clear U.S. customs and immigration in Shannon, Ireland, has been significantly speeded up thanks to a decision to allow operators to keep their aircraft powered up while on the ground. This means that the procedures can be completed in just 45 minutes from chocks-on to chocks-off, as compared with at least 80 minutes when all aircraft power had to be shut down. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency has ruled that aircraft can keep their APU running as long as the exhaust outlet is at least eight feet above the ground. Alternatively they can keep the aircraft under power with ground power units. CBP officials had been concerned about their staff being injured by hot exhaust from APUs, and also that powerplants could interfere with the radiation isotope identifier equipment that they use to scan aircraft. Being able to keep aircraft powered up means that crew no longer has to reboot the flight management system and re-enter the flight plan. According to Derek Collins, manager of Universal Weather & Aviation’s Shannon FBO, operators had been discouraged from using the pre-clearance facility because of the delays in getting airborne again to cross the Atlantic. Shannon, on the west coast of Ireland, is the only CBP-approved pre-clearance facility in Europe and using it allows operators to fly directly into some 200 U.S. airports as if the flight were domestic.