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69th Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition

Release Date: 
November 1, 2016

National Business Aviation Association
69th Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition
Orlando, Florida
Remarks as Prepared: Nov 1, 2016

CBP Commissioner Kerlikowske
CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske addresses
attendees of the NBAA’s 69th Business Aviation
Convention and Exhibition in Orlando, FL on
Nov. 1, 2016.
Photo Credit: NBAA

Thank you, Ed [Bolen, NBAA President]. I appreciate being able to join you today to discuss how CBP is working with the business aviation industry.

I’d also like to acknowledge Congressman Sam Graves of Missouri; two-time Pulitzer-Prize winning author, David McCullough; and Douglas Carr, Vice President of Regulatory and International Affairs for NBAA.

From CBP, I’d like to recognize Eric Rodriguez and Dianna Sullivan, CBP’s General Aviation Program Managers. Most of you know Eric and Dianna, but if you don’t, you should. As CBP’s resident experts in general aviation – they have been instrumental in forming the General Aviation Working Group, and you’ll be hearing from Eric tomorrow in the Operations education track.

First, let me just briefly describe the complexity of our mission. Every day, we balance our national security mission – protecting our borders – with our economic security mission – facilitating lawful travel and trade. Through reasonable and responsible actions, we can and we must do both.

In Fiscal Year 2015, CBP welcomed more than 100 million international air travelers to the United States. Business aviation plays a significant role in that, contributing $150 billion to the U.S. economic output and employing more than 1.2 million people.

And your numbers are trending upward; aviation industry associations, air carriers, and aircraft manufacturers are predicting an estimated 5 percent growth per year through 2020. Your industry is clearly thriving and growing.

The FAA predicts that the active general aviation fleet will increase from just under 200,000 aircraft in 2014 to more than 214,000 by 2035. The number of pilots and the number of hours flown are also projected to increase steadily over the next two decades.

We also understand your concerns about staffing needs at certain airports, and that there needs to be more consistency between ports in terms of after-hours operations. We know it’s critical for us to work together as seamlessly as possible to reduce delays, streamline operations, and facilitate entry into the United States.

The importance and complexity of these issues is why CBP launched General Aviation Working Group last year, which brings together the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the National Air Transport Association, and the NBAA.

Sarah Wolf – the NBAA’s Senior Manager of Security and Facilitation – is representing the association in the group, which has also benefited from insights from leaders from AOPA and NATA.

The working group is improving communication between the industry and CBP, establishing more uniformity from port to port, and streamlining and simplifying procedures for business aviation operators.

And the group is also a great way for your voices to be heard.

For example, we heard you loud and clear about the impact that full shutdowns of certain aircraft systems have on your business. That’s why we no longer require the complete shutdown of Auxiliary Power Units during all inspections. The results have been a win-win for both CBP and your industry because the new policy has reduced unnecessary delays, increased safety, and lowered operating costs.

That balancing act I mentioned earlier – facilitating lawful trade and travel while making sure our borders are secure – is a difficult one. On one end of the balancing act, CBP is making tremendous strides in working collaboratively with the travel industry to transform the international arrivals experience.

We know that your travelers don’t have time to waste on things like paper Customs Declaration forms – so we made it paperless. And we’re offering new and innovative technology like Global Entry, to streamline entry into the United States, while maintaining the highest standards of security. While Global Entry kiosks are at 52 U.S. ports of entry and 15 of our Preclearance locations, we know that they’re not yet available at many of the facilities where you must undergo inspection.

And while I understand your concerns about the value of Preclearance in the GA environment, let me note that programs like Preclearance serve a critical security mission. It helps modernize our operations, allowing foreign partners to pay for CBP officers and staffing, and free up our resources for other priorities.

That brings me to the other end of that balancing act, and that is an unwavering, absolute commitment to our border security mission.

We are reviewing various processing options – including mobile and trusted traveler technology – to see if such options can ensure expeditious clearance of lawful travelers while maintaining our security standards … and this commitment to security is really non-negotiable.

You have my word that CBP is always willing to work with industry to improve our processing operations as long as that commitment is upheld.

I know NBAA also wants CBP to process after-hours general aviation flights with private funds to cover our overtime costs. There may be statutory and regulatory restrictions on accepting private monies for this kind of overtime funding, but I want to assure you that CBP is willing to explore this further.

So, what’s on the horizon?

CBP Commissioner Kerlikowske
CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske addresses
attendees of the NBAA’s 69th Business Aviation
Convention and Exhibition in Orlando, FL on
Nov. 1, 2016.
Photo Credit: NBAA

In 2017, the General Aviation Working Group will continue working to improve efficiency and effectiveness, carrying on its important work on a CBP General Aviation Operators’ Guide to replace the obsolete Private Flyers’ Guide. The group will also work towards improving CBP uniformity through the issuance and re-issuance of CBP memos and external guidance documents to be made available on CBP’s website.

Finally, a few words about pilot programs we are considering – both of which would leverage APIS. One program would address the Southern Border Overflight Exemption by going paperless – using APIS as the electronic method for submitting data. This would let compliant operators proceed to an inland airport where CBP services are available and landing rights have been granted. The Working Group has worked through many of the challenges and procedural changes associated with such an initiative and we are all now in a better position to consider such a change.

A second pilot program we are considering, a Single-Syntax APIS Solution, would let all unscheduled private and commercial GA operators interact with CBP through a singular mechanism in APIS. This initiative would evaluate the advantages of consolidating the disparate regulatory and policy processes for operators who operate both private and commercial aircraft.

This is all great work – work that will help facilitate easier and more consistent access to the United States for business aviation customers.

As we move into the home stretch of this very “unique” election cycle, the Presidential transition is foremost in our minds. But CBP’s mission remains constant, as does our need for your expertise and partnership. We are always eager to advance our technology and processes to the passenger environment, and to simplify your entry into the U.S. And we are unwavering in our commitment to stopping unlawful travelers and cargo – at our 328 land, air, and sea ports of entry and along our 7,500 miles of border.

We are looking forward to working with your industry, and thanks again for including me in this important discussion.

Last modified: 
February 8, 2017