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Attention, Illinois pilotsAttention, Illinois pilots

Attention, Illinois pilots

The Illinois Assembly Registration and Regulation Committee has under consideration Assembly Bill 3084. This bill would license flight schools and would require criminal background checks for flight students. The bill could be heard as early as today, March 5, 2003!

AOPA must object to the Illinois Legislature's attempt to regulate flight training. The federal government is solely responsible for regulating aviation safety and security. The federal government has already taken a number of actions at the federal level that addresses the concerns of the Illinois Legislature. In a letter to the committee, AOPA's Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula said, "Passage of this legislation does nothing to enhance security or protect the citizens of your state, but would impose an unnecessary restriction and encumbrance on those who seek to learn to fly—an activity regulated and controlled by the federal government."

How you can help!

The Assembly Registration and Regulation Committee could consider this bill as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, March 5. AOPA members should fax or call the following members of the committee and let them know you oppose Assembly Bill 3084.

Chairperson:

The Honorable Angelo Saviano (R-77th)
Springfield Office: phone 217/782-3374, fax 217/557-7211
District Office: phone 708/453-7547, fax 708/453-7594

Vice Chairperson:

The Honorable John A. Fritchey (D-11th)
Springfield Office: phone 217/782-2458, fax 217/557-7214
District Office: phone 773/871-4000, fax 773/871-4012

Republican Spokesperson:

The Honorable Elizabeth Coulson
Springfield Office: phone 217/782-4194, fax 217/782-1275
District Office: phone 847/724-3233, fax 847/724-8682

AOPA is opposed to this bill because:

Illinois' attempt to regulate aviation at the state level is preempted by the federal government. In fact, the FAA's chief counsel recently provided AOPA a legal opinion that "state legislation that requires the collection of personal information from prospective students, including fingerprinting and background checks, or disqualifies prospective students based on specified past criminal conduct would likely intrude into an area that Congress has preempted. Congress has reserved to the [FAA] Administrator the authority to regulate 'civilian schools giving instruction in flying.'"

Aviation is regulated at the federal level, maintaining one uniform standard. In this regard, the FAA's chief counsel has said, "The qualifications of the person operating aircraft are determined according to federal rules and should not be subject to standards varying from state to state." State intervention in this regard would create a varying patchwork of standards from state to state.

The federal government has taken numerous actions related to aviation security. Many of these actions adequately address on a federal level the concerns of the Illinois Legislature. These federal actions include:

  • There is tremendous scrutiny of the FAA's pilot database by security official. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) adopted regulations on January 24, 2003, which permit the FAA to immediately suspend, revoke, or refuse to issue an airman certificate to anyone that the TSA has determined poses a threat to transportation security. The new rules, which apply to a student pilot since the student pilot certificate is a certificate issued by the FAA, went into effect immediately since the agencies issued them as a direct and final rule.
  • Current restrictions on flight training of foreign nationals;
    • U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has introduced a bill (S.236) that expands this existing federal requirement for background checks to cover all foreign nationals seeking pilot training. Senator Nelson's bill would remove the aircraft weight requirement and make it applicable to all foreign nationals seeking to receive flight training regardless of size (currently it is limited to aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds). It is expected that the 108th Congress will pass this legislation.
  • A requirement was adopted by the Federal Aviation Administration on October 28, 2002, at the urging of AOPA and with the support of key congressional leaders that requires a pilot in command to have in his/her possession a government-issued photo identification along with their pilot and medical certificates.
  • A federal requirement for background checks of foreign individuals seeking to receive a U.S. pilot certificate on the basis of a foreign pilot certificate was put in place in July 2002.
  • In January, the FAA issued a number of recommended actions addressing security for flight schools and fixed-based operators. With these recommendations, operators are already addressing security appropriate for their particular operation.
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has partnered with AOPA to develop a nationwide aviation watch system—Airport Watch—that is supported by a centralized toll-free hotline and system for reporting and acting on information provided by general aviation pilots. The Airport Watch program includes warning signs for airports, informational literature, and a training videotape to educate pilots and airport employees as to how security of their airports and aircraft can be enhanced.

Contact your legislators today and let them know you oppose Assembly Bill 3084!

March 5, 2003

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