As Transportation Security Administration (TSA) chief David M. Stone learned directly last week from AOPA members during AOPA Expo, the new citizenship check rule has stirred up a firestorm of frustration and confusion within the general aviation community. Record numbers of pilots and flight instructors are telling AOPA that they are upset that there was no advance warning or education on the rule that requires pilots to verify citizenship with instructors before they train for additional ratings or certificates.
Non-U.S. citizens are also required to be screened by the TSA.
"This entire action is the most ill-conceived, bungled, incompetent travesty of justice that I have encountered in all my many years in aviation," said one pilot.
In addition, instructors are complaining that they are not trained in security and should not be put in the position of verifying citizenship documents.[See TSA chief Stone explain position at AOPA Expo and hear member questions; broadband connection recommended.]
AOPA has also heard from many of the 82,452 pilots who are resident aliens. They are saying that the TSA's new process requiring them to submit to fingerprinting, background checks, and having their photos taken is redundant because resident aliens have already received extensive immigration and homeland security screening.
"We are taking these concerns directly to the top of the TSA and making sure our friends in Congress weigh in at the agency," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "This rule must be changed." For more information on the specifics of the rule, see AOPA's regulatory brief.
October 29, 2004