The New Jersey Legislature is considering two bills that would require a criminal history record background check for individuals seeking aviation flight training. Assembly Bill 1649 and Senate Bill 432 would require a flight school to conduct criminal history and criminal records checks on all flight students. AOPA has written to state officials opposing these bills.
Recently, Senate Bill 432 passed the Senate with a vote of 38-0.
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.
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, New Jersey 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 Assembly Bill 1649 and Senate Bill 432. Letters and faxes are most effective, but e-mail and phone contacts are useful too.
March 11, 2002