Key Regulators, Policymakers Kick Off NBAA-BACE in Virtual Session
Oct. 5, 2021
Key personnel from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FAA were on-hand for the popular “Meet the Regulators” NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) session, held virtually this year as part of the event’s expanded hybrid content format.
The townhall-style Q&A session, moderated by Brian Koester, CAM, NBAA’s director of flight operations and regulations, opened with Eric Rodriguez, CBP program manager of general aviation, sharing advice on the best communications methods with CBP representatives at ports of entry. He also provided an update on the agency’s efforts to standardize and improve electronic communications with operators, as well as developing guidance for port-specific guidance or instructions.
Rodriguez described technologies currently being tested in different ports of entry, including facial recognition used to verify passenger identity provided by the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS), and other methods of verifying passengers that could improve efficiencies for operators and passengers. Rodriguez encouraged CBP stakeholders to provide feedback on their experiences and suggestions to the agency through international service providers, NBAA or directly to CBP to continuously improve policies and procedures.
Robert Ruiz, acting deputy executive director of Flight Standards (AFX-2B), described some of the agency’s lessons learned in dealing with the pandemic and the rapid changes required to respond to the constantly changing situation. The FAA experienced improvements in virtual communications within the agency and with stakeholders and increased focus on consistency and cooperation between offices, he said.
Bruce DeCleene, director of the Office of Safety Standards, explained his office focused on risk-based oversight in order to use resources effectively. He pointed to the Special Federal Aviation Regulations (SFARs) permitting temporary exemptions to certain flight training and checking requirements, saying those exemptions successfully balanced aviation safety and public health needs.
“Without those critical pillars, the country would have been in a much worse situation,” he said. “We learned just how much we can accomplish when the need arises.”
The CDC’s Dr. Nicole (Nicky) Cohen, deputy associate director for science, division of global migration and quarantine, shared an overview of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., saying the country has recorded more than 43 million COVID cases since the inception of the pandemic, with over 4 million cases in the last month alone.
The White House recently announced changes to COVID-19 entry requirements, as a new vaccine requirement will be effective in November. These changes will impact travelers from 33 countries including China, India, Brazil and most of Europe (the Schengen countries, plus Britain and Ireland). Guidance will be available in the coming weeks for these anticipated changes to COVID-19 entry requirements.
“NBAA appreciates the opportunity to connect with these experts in an interactive, virtual setting,” said Koester. “It is important for NBAA members and other attendees to have the opportunity to ask directly to key regulators and policymakers.”
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