“Overprepare.” “Ask a million questions.” “Check repeatedly and often with your third-party providers.” “Triple down on your due diligence!”
This is what experts are telling business aircraft operators that are planning to fly from the U.S. to Canada today.
Canada is among the top international destinations for U.S. operators, but constantly changing policies – especially related to COVID-19 restrictions – are making traveling to Canada and back in a general aviation aircraft a minefield of “gotchas.” Regulations are changing rapidly, “sometimes by the hour,” said Scott Harrold of Sky Aviation, president of consultancy Sky Aviation International.
Operators need to learn how best to work with the Canadian Border Services Agency and the U.S. Border Protection Service to stay within the current rules, avoid fines and ensure passengers will not be denied entry.
“Don’t try to go back to ‘It’s the way we’ve always done it,’” said Anthony Norejko, president and CEO of the Canadian Business Aviation Association. “There is a way to get past these [COVID-based restrictions]. We understand risk management. We load aircraft with fuel, light fires and take an aluminum can up to altitude. We know about risk. So, overprepare. If we do that, we can get people traveling safely again.”
Two officials from Universal Weather & Aviation, Inc. – Adam Hartley, manager of global regulatory services and global emissions programs, and Laura Everington, senior manager of government and industry affairs – laid out the pathway to executing a Canada trip, starting with assessing its “feasibility.”
“Don’t let an agent get on board your aircraft and find something you haven’t told them about.”
Laura Everington Senior Manager of Government and Industry Affairs, Universal Weather & Aviation
“Is your APIS [advanced passenger information system] accurate?” asked Everington. “Ensure the names are correct. Be sure to have accurate information on credentials. Having copies is even better.”
She also stressed the need for transparency and regular updates on changes.
“If your landing rights confirmation has conflicting entries, you might have to start all over again. Don’t let an agent get on board your aircraft and find something you haven’t told them about.”
She also noted that international service providers or flight department dispatchers often provide this documentation, but the pilot in command is the one ultimately responsible.
Another person with extensive experience in Canadian transborder operations recommends that operators think through every step of a trip.
“You’ve got to know what you’re doing and what you plan to do next. Make that path clear for yourself. The goal is to get through customs – not just to get to customs.”