The Michigan State Legislature is considering bills that would require a criminal history record background check for individuals seeking aviation flight training. Senate Bill 1006 and Senate Bill 934 would require a flight school to conduct a criminal history and criminal records checks on all flight students. In a letter sent to the governor, AOPA strongly opposed this initiative because the FAA, not individual states, is responsible for regulating flight training. However, these bills have now passed the Senate and will now be considered in the Michigan House of Representatives. AOPA previously wrote to key legislators opposing both bills.
AOPA has been active in addressing security concerns with federal officials, including forwarding a set of recommendations to the Transportation Security Administration for enhancing the security of general aviation operations. The federal government is already taking steps in addressing flight school and flight training security. The Federal Aviation Security Bill that was signed by President Bush included provisions for flight schools conducting training in aircraft over 12,500 pounds. Additionally, the FAA has forwarded security guidance recommendations to flight schools nationwide following the Tampa crash involving a flight student.
AOPA believes that individual state initiatives will create a "patchwork" of individual rules and standards, as well as cause a financial strain on flight schools within the state. 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. They 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.
Pilots, aircraft owners, and flight training organizations are urged to contact their elected state representatives and ask them to vote in opposition to Senate Bill 1006 and 934. Letters and faxes are most effective, but e-mail and phone contacts are useful too.
February 26, 2002