I’m going to fly across America!
With no previous experience in shipping items abroad, or customs regulations, the process and procedures looked daunting. I contacted a number of shipping companies and agents. The temporary importation, with temporary storage, for a personal aircraft, by a private individual (not a company), appeared difficult to quote for. Making inquiries, a year in advance, probably didn’t put my request to the top of any lists, but only two companies responded. When details were confirmed about what I was planning, both companies were unable to offer a complete service.
Only KRL Logistics, confirmed they could do what I wanted
KRL also offered a rough ‘guide price’ of how much it might cost, a year before the shipping date. It was stressed, many factors can cause the price to fluctuate (fuel costs, exchange rates, war etc). Sending the BZIM, in a 20ft container, with no other contents – a FCL (Full Container Load) – from Grangemouth to the port of Miami would cost roughly £3000, one way. This amount was identical to a figure given to me by another person who worked for a company shipping containers to America. It was apparent later, this £3000 figure was an ‘all in port to port’ price. Additional costs would be added later.
A cheaper option would be for the BZIM to be sent in a container with other items; as a LCL (Less than container load) shipment. However, this option cannot offer a firm transit date. Only when the container is full would the BZIM be shipped to America. To ensure everything arrives in the USA, for when I needed it, I chose to send the BZIM by FCL. Had two or three aircraft been sent in the same container, the cost for the container remained the same, but individual costs would be shared between the aircraft owners.
One year out I had decided KRL-Logistics would ship the microlight to and from the USA.
Jordan, from KRL’s Manchester office, was my point of contact with the company. He was very patient with my questions and concerns. Jordan in contrast had no concerns about the challenge and advised me to contact him a month or so before the required shipment date.
Due to my complete inexperience and over-concern about something going wrong, I decided to ship the BZIM to Florida ahead of 9th April 2018, the starting adventure date. I would travel to Florida during February, collect the BZIM, transfer it to an airfield and test fly it, thereby ensuring everything was ready for April. So the BZIM would now have to leave Strathaven late January, to arrive in Florida in time.
One year out, quickly became 6 months, then 3 months…
Time to contact the FAA, Miramar office. After submitting my SFA request along with photocopies of aircraft ownership, Permit to Fly validity, radio licence, passport and following a number of emails, in December, I received an email confirming my SFA was ‘all typed up’, ready for my arrival in the country. There would be no show stoppers from the FAA! They did suggest, I start my adventure from Homestead General Aviation airport, surrounded by lots of uncontrolled airspace and located in a lower populated area. Homestead was already my airfield of choice, due to the proximity of Port Miami and the Florida Keys.
Reaching out to Roberts Air South, Homestead, the family run FBO (Fixed-base operator), John and Diane Roberts kindly put me in contact with a fellow trike pilot, who would allow me to squeeze my microlight into an already full hanger, so that was another problem solved!
Early January 2018, contacting Jordan at KRL, I was offered options for the shipping dates and locations. Rather than ship from Grangemouth to Port Miami, as previously discussed, Jordan advised shipping would best be from London Gateway Port to Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale). Transit time was greatly reduced, and so was the price. The ‘all in rate’, for the container shipment, of the BZIM, by Hapag Lyodd, from London to Port Everglades was (to be revealed later…)
Although called an all in rate, two additional costs were to be added. The ‘load/lash/lift’ fee’s, and charges at the destination. The destination charges were for the employment of a customs clearing agent at the port, port fees and trucking fees from the port to either the final destination, or a storage location. I was expecting the container to be stored after its arrival at a warehouse. I would hire a van to collect the BZIM and take it to Homestead, paying extra for the storage location and van hire.
The total cost paid to KRL for organizing all aspects of the transportation, employing all third party companies, including loading and securing the microlight in the 20ft container, shipping from London to Florida, all port fees, custom charges, with delivery of the BZIM to Homestead General Aviation airport was (to be revealed later…)