Despite strong opposition from AOPA and Michigan pilots, a new law requiring criminal background checks for flight school students seeking a new license or rating is now in place. AOPA plans to work vigorously with Michigan legislators to formulate and adopt a less intrusive, more workable law.
Under the current law, anyone taking an introductory or "discovery" flight is not required to undergo a background check. Neither are pilots taking a biennial flight review (BFR) or instrument proficiency check (IPC). However, private pilots seeking a new instrument rating would need to undergo the criminal background check. Students can begin lessons before the check is complete but would be terminated from the flight training program if the check turned up a past violent felony conviction.
Michigan's Department of Transportation has compiled a list of FAQs with answers to the most common questions.