April 1, 2009
AOPA Pilot Information Center staff
Spring is in the air, and many of us want to get back into flying or start flying. For a flight instructor, spring begins a busy flying season.
Don’t forget your paperwork responsibilities. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently increased its staffing and is more visible on GA airport ramps. It also is increasing flight school inspections. While CFIs and flight schools have most of the paperwork responsibilities, information also is needed from pilots.
If you are a U.S. citizen and will be training for your first pilot certificate (sport, recreational, or private), an instrument rating, or a multi-engine rating, bring your passport or birth certificate to the CFI before your first lesson. The TSA requires the CFI or flight school to keep a copy of either document for five years. With a letter of clarification, the TSA allows an exemption to this requirement if the CFI makes an endorsement in the student’s and the CFI’s logbooks.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must request training approval from the TSA’s Alien Flight Student Program. Applications must include a $130 payment, and you will be fingerprinted. After TSA approval, training must commence within 180 days and finish within 365 days.
All active flight instructors, regardless of the training he/she conducts, must complete yearly TSA security awareness training. Training is meant to update flight schools, instructors, and flight school employees on security-related incidents, measures, and procedures that affect their local airport and flight school. Unless the TSA approves an alternative method, one’s initial security training is done online. The TSA’s online Recurrent Security Awareness Training module can be used to meet requirements for recurrent security awareness training.
Editor's Note: TSA no longer provides the training courses mentioned above, but redirects visitors to AOPA's Airport Watch General Aviation Security Course.
AOPA has also developed a checklist to help flight schools prepare for a TSA inspection. If your flight school goes through an inspection, share your thoughts and comments with AOPA so that we have the most up-to-date information.
All of this information can be found online at AOPA’s Guide to TSA’s Alien Flight Training/Citizenship Validation Rule.
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