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Sat, Oct 23, 2004

AOPA Expo '04: TSA Enacts Controversial/Restrictive Flight Training Regs

Agency Also Expands Program Scope To Include Non-Commercial Pilot Candidates

Editor's Note: This is the official TSA statement on the initiation of potentially draconian new regs that directly affect the US GA flight training community. We'll have a lot more to say about it over the next few days... but if this isn't one of the most outrageous indications of the TSA's bureaucratic indifference, ignorance and arrogance, we don't know what is. At the AOPA Expo, it was obvious that whatever confidence TSA shared with GA is disappearing fast... and this is one of the prime reasons. Pilots are getting REALLY upset with TSA...

Offical Statement By TSA

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Friday that it is now requiring security threat assessments for non-U.S. citizens seeking training at U.S. flight schools, regardless of the type and size of the aircraft.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act mandated the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct threat assessments for non-U.S. citizens who sought training on aircraft weighing 12,500 pounds or more including commercial aircraft. Vision 100 – Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act transferred this responsibility from Justice to TSA as of October 5, 2004.

“September 11th taught us that terrorists exploited the use of U.S flight schools,” said Rear Adm. David M. Stone (pictured below), USN (Ret.), Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for TSA. “Fortifying security by knowing who trains at these schools is an integral part of our mission to secure the homeland.”

The program is designed to prevent terrorists from receiving pilot training from flight schools. As a prerequisite to flight training, non-U.S. citizens must provide to TSA fingerprints, biographical information, including full name, passport and visa information, and training specifics such as the type of aircraft the candidate seeks instruction to operate.

In addition to security assessments, TSA’s new initiative will:

  • Streamline the threat assessment process from 45 to 30 days for most applicants, and 5 days for some
  • Require flight schools to submit a student’s photograph to TSA to ensure the student reporting for flight training is the same individual who successfully completed a security threat assessment
  • Implement an application fee of $130 for the security threat assessment
  • Require flight schools to provide security awareness training for appropriate staff on an annual basis. To help fulfill this requirement, TSA plans to offer an on-line course on the agency’s Web site within a few weeks.

Beginning this week, TSA will accept applications for non-U.S. citizens seeking flight training in aircraft weighing 12,500 pounds or less who do not currently hold a FAA or foreign pilot’s certificate. Starting on December 19, 2004, TSA will accept applications for all non-U.S. citizens who seek training in aircraft weighing 12,500 pounds or less, including those who already have an airman’s certificate and seeking additional training for a new certificate and/or rating.

FMI: www.tsa.gov

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