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CBP Radiation Screening Change Speeds Shannon Airport Pre-clearances
June 27, 2011
Barely two weeks have passed since U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) eased restrictions on the use of auxiliary power units (APUs) during radiation screening of business aircraft inbound to the United States, and already the change has paid off for Ireland's Shannon Airport (EINN).
"We had our first preclearance since the policy change on Wednesday," explains Joe Buckley, Business Development Manager at Shannon. "Looking at the timings of it, the aircraft blocked on at 0915, and blocked off at 1000. From startup to shutdown, 45 minutes. That included CBP preclearance with the APU on, refueling, and flight plan clearance."
As NBAA reported earlier this month, effective June 15, APUs may remain on while Radiation Isotope Identifier (RIID) checks are conducted on business aircraft entering the U.S., as long as exhaust vents for those units are eight feet off the ground or higher. The decision followed nearly two years of work between NBAA and CBP to find an acceptable compromise.
Shannon is the only airport at this time allowing security preclearance to the U.S. for business aircraft. While preclearance was always an advantage for pilots flying to the U.S., the preclearance process at Shannon used to take as long as 90 minutes, Buckley adds. A significant portion of that time was spent powering the aircraft back up following the RIID scan, and reentering flight plan data.
"Now, we may not always achieve a 45-minute turn," Buckley notes. "Sometimes we may even be faster, though a 60-minute turn is now a realistic expectation."
CBP had been concerned that hot exhaust from APUs could harm its officers, and also about the potential for interference with its scanning devices from onboard electronics. Those concerns proved to be unfounded, and the change greatly streamlines the CBP's radiation inspections, without sacrificing security protections.
"We appreciate the hard work from NBAA to make this change happen," Buckley says. "It really is a fantastic achievement for NBAA as a representative in the industry. I also must thank Homeland Security and CBP for working with the industry to find a solution."
While Shannon may now offer an even quicker stop prior to crossing the Atlantic, Buckley says there's no reason flight crews and their passengers couldn't pause and stay awhile, too. "We're more than an airport at the edge of the Atlantic for a technical stop," he says. "We're focusing very strongly on business aviation, and we'd like to see companies make investments here. We would love for people to stay over from time to time."