The Maryland State Legislature is considering two bills that would require a criminal history record background check for individuals seeking aviation flight training. House Bill 1005 and House Bill 1208 would require a flight school to conduct a criminal history and criminal records checks on all flight students. AOPA has written to state officials opposing these bills.
AOPA believes that individual state initiatives will create a "patchwork" of individual rules and standards. Criminal background checks, such as those proposed in this bill, would not have prevented the September 11th terrorists who have been identified up to this point. Those individuals were in the United States on legal paperwork issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which included fingerprinting for the purpose of a FBI criminal background check.
A more logical approach to addressing aviation security and airman requirements should be left to the federal government to implement, something that is occurring now. AOPA previously advanced recommendations on general aviation security to federal officials, and recently we advanced a petition for rulemaking with the FAA that would implement a means of photographic identification for pilots. Federal officials have enthusiastically received these common-sense approaches.
These bills will be costly for flight schools to administer and will increase the cost of flying for students without increasing security. With additional requirements, Maryland flight schools will have a difficult time competing against flight schools in neighboring states.
Pilots, aircraft owners, and flight training organizations are urged to contact their elected state representatives and ask them to vote in opposition to House Bill 1005 and 1208. Letters and faxes are most effective, but e-mail and phone contacts are useful too.
February 26, 2002