November 11, 2009
The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved and sent to the full Senate a bill that would give the FAA six months to issue new pilot certificates that include photo identification. AOPA has long advocated for such a move but believes that the six-month time frame for implementation is unrealistic.
AOPA worked closely with the committee, including the senior minority member, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), to make sure pilots would not have only one option - the closest flight standards district office (FSDO) - for having their pictures taken. The bill would require the FAA to assign designees - most likely aviation medical examiners (AMEs) - to take official photos.
"The task is still a daunting one, and our goal is to make sure that pilots don't face an inconvenience to have their pictures taken," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The bottom line is that Congress is forcing the FAA's hand on photo-ID pilot certificates, which AOPA believes will be an enhancement."
The legislation would provide the FAA with $50 million to develop and implement a photo ID for pilots that is resistant to tampering, alteration, and counterfeiting. It would also include biometric data or other unique identifiers to ensure authenticity.
An additional security provision contained in the bill would provide businesses that rent airplanes with indirect access, through the Transportation Security Administration, to terrorist watch lists. If they choose to do so, such businesses could investigate potential renters.
"Our staff worked with the committee to ensure that this provision is first implemented as a demonstration project and reviewed prior to full implementation," concluded Boyer.
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