TSA Background Checks for Training in Aircraft Over 12,500 Pounds

TSA Background Checks for Training in Aircraft Over 12,500 Pounds

Formerly, foreign pilots training in aircraft weighing over 12,500 pounds were required to notify and submit information to the Department of Justice (DOJ). This was known as the twelve-five program. While the requirements for submitting background information are the same, the authority on these requirements has been transferred from the Department of Justice to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

On September 20, 2004, an interim final rule was issued by TSA as the Flight Training for Aliens and Other Designated Individuals; Security Awareness Training for Flight School Employees; Interim Rule. This rule requires flight schools that provide, and individuals who apply for, flight training in the operation of aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of greater than 12,500 pounds to comply with certain requirements. First, the flight school must notify TSA (Transportation Security Administration) that the foreign pilot, otherwise known as a candidate, has requested training. Next, the candidate will need to submit information, including birth and citizenship history, and identification in the form of passport and visa information. For information on training in aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds, please visit AOPA's Guide to the TSA Alien Flight Training/Citizenship Validation Rule.


Definitions

Alien. Any person not a citizen or national of the United States. This also refers to resident aliens (green-card holders) and visa holders in the United States.

Aircraft Simulator. A flight simulator or flight training device as defined by 14 CFR 61.1.

Candidate. An alien or other individual designated by TSA who applies for flight training. It does not include an individual endorsed by the Department of Defense for flight training.

Flight School. Any pilot, flight training center, air carrier flight training facility, or flight instructor certificated under 14 CFR Part 61, 121, 135, 141, or 142; or any other person or entity that provides instruction under 49 U.S.C. Subtitle VII, Part A, in the operation of any aircraft or aircraft flight simulator. This also includes any individual or entity located outside the United States that provides such instruction. For example, a flight school located in Canada that provides instruction in the operation of an aircraft or aircraft simulator that would enable an individual to receive a U.S. airman certificate is subject to this rule.

Recurrent Training. For aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, recurrent training is defined in 49 CFR 1552.1(b) as periodic training required under 14 CFR Part 61, 121, 125, 135, or Subpart K of Part 91.

Category 1 — Regular Processing

TSA defines Category 1 as regular processing for flight training on aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds. Regular processing means that the alien is not eligible for expedited processing, which is Category 2. The candidate must register with TSA online at https://www.flightschoolcandidates.gov by submitting personal, citizenship, and pilot information, along with the candidate's flight training request. This will also require submitting fingerprints and paying a processing fee. The candidate's flight training provider must also register online with TSA at https://www.flightschoolcandidates.gov/fsindex.html.

A flight school is prohibited from providing flight training to a Category 1 candidate until TSA has informed the flight school that the candidate does not pose a threat to aviation or national security, or the appropriate waiting period has expired. For Category 1 candidates, the waiting period is 30 days. The waiting period does not begin until TSA has received all the information required under the IFR, including a candidate's fingerprints and the fee required.

A flight school may initiate a Category 1 candidate's flight training if TSA has not informed the flight school whether the candidate poses a threat to aviation or national security within 30 days. However, if TSA notifies the flight school that a candidate poses a threat to aviation or national security at any time, the flight school must immediately terminate or cancel the candidate's flight training.

Once TSA informs a flight school that a candidate is not a threat to aviation or national security, or the 30-day waiting period has expired, the flight school must initiate the candidate's flight training within 180 days. If the flight school does not initiate the candidate's flight training within 180 days, the flight school or the candidate must resubmit to TSA the information required in the TSA form, including the required fee, but not the candidate's fingerprints. The flight school then must wait until TSA informs the flight school that a candidate is not a threat to aviation or national security or until the appropriate waiting period expires (for Category 1 candidates, 30 days after TSA receives all the required information, including the candidate's fingerprints and the required fee) before initiating the candidate's flight training. A candidate is required to submit the required fee each time he or she is required to apply for a TSA security threat assessment.

For more information, see 49 CFR 1552.3.

Category 2 — Expedited Processing

This category is for expedited processing for flight training on aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds. To be eligible for expedited processing, a candidate must meet one of the following criteria: (1) Hold an airman's certificate from a foreign country that is recognized by the FAA or a U.S. military agency, and that permits the candidate to operate a multiengine aircraft that has a certificated takeoff weight of more than 12,500 pounds; (2) be employed by a foreign air carrier that operates under 14 CFR Part 129 and that has a security program approved under 49 CFR Part 1546; (3) have unescorted access authority to a secured area of an airport under 49 U.S.C. 44936(a)(1)(A)(ii), 49 CFR 1542.209, or 49 CFR 1544.229; (4) be a flightcrew member who has successfully completed a criminal history records check in accordance with 49 CFR 1544.230; or (5) be part of a class of individuals to which TSA has determined that providing flight training poses a minimal threat to aviation or national security because of the flight training already possessed by that class of individuals. Currently, TSA has not designated any such class of individuals. However, if TSA does designate such a class of individuals in the future, the agency will do so through a rulemaking process.

Category 2 candidates are required to submit the same information required of Category 1 candidates, including their fingerprints, and their flight training provider must register online with TSA at https://www.flightschoolcandidates.gov/fsindex.html. They also are required to submit information that establishes that they are eligible for expedited processing, such as a copy of their security identification display area (SIDA) badge.

TSA believes that it is necessary to require Category 2 candidates to submit their fingerprints to ensure a thorough security threat assessment. The threat assessment consists, in part, of checks of databases that may be searched only through fingerprint information. For Category 2 candidates, the waiting period is five days. The waiting period does not begin until TSA has received all the information required by the TSA rule, including the candidate's fingerprints and the required fee.

A flight school may initiate a Category 2 candidate's flight training if TSA has not informed the flight school whether the candidate poses a threat to aviation or national security within five days. However, if TSA notifies a flight school that a candidate poses a threat to aviation or national security at any time, the flight school must immediately terminate or cancel the candidate's flight training.

Once TSA informs a flight school that a Category 2 candidate is not a threat to aviation or national security, a flight school must initiate the candidate's flight training within 180 days. If the flight school does not initiate the candidate's flight training within 180 days, the flight school or candidate must resubmit to TSA the information required in the TSA form, including the required fee, but not the candidate's fingerprints. The flight school then must wait until TSA informs the flight school that a candidate is not a threat to aviation or national security, or until five days after TSA receives all the required information before initiating the candidate's flight training. As discussed in the section on fees, a candidate is required to submit the required fee each time he or she is required to submit information for a TSA security threat assessment.

For more information, see 49 CFR 1552.3.

Category 4 — Recurrent Training

Recurrent Training on aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds is periodic training required for employees of certificated aircraft operators under 14 CFR parts 121, 125, 135, or Subpart K of Part 91. Candidates who apply for such training are exempt from the fingerprinting and security threat assessment requirements under the TSA rule.


Updated May 27, 2011