Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Canada By PC-12

A Pilatus adventure across the border

While your first landing in Canada must be at an airport of entry and Canadian Customs must be notified by phone—separately from eAPIS or a U.S. flight plan—it turned out not to be necessary to depart from a Customs airport. That's different from Mexico, where you must clear Customs before departing for the U.S. And our experience with Canadian Customs was entirely positive—they were polite, helpful and actually came to the FBO where we parked at Saskatoon.

It really is important to call and talk to the Customs people at the U.S. airport of entry you plan to use for your return. We originally planned to use Boise, where we had a fuel stop on our Northbound flight. This trip occurred over the Labor Day weekend. Our original plan was to return the following Tuesday—which would have been fine. However, the hunting party shot their limit early, and we changed plans to return on Monday. Boise's Customs office was closed. Instead, we returned by way of Portland, Ore. (KPDX), which required a big deviation West of a direct course and added over an hour to our flight time. As it happened, that route also avoided a large area of active weather, which was just as well.

Unlike in the U.S., where the air traffic control system and FAA are funded through fuel and passenger taxes, Nav Canada operates on a user-fee basis. Larry's employer (the owners of the airplane we flew) will eventually receive a bill covering the charges for operating in Canadian airspace. Based on Nav Canada's fee calculator (see the link at the end of this article), I estimate that will amount to around $400 for our flights. Fees would have been lower in a smaller airplane.

While a little extra work (and expense) is involved, flying to Canada from the U.S. isn't particularly difficult—and can be a rewarding experience.


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