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Background checks, again?Background checks, again?

Background checks, again?
AOPA works to quash New Jersey bill

Despite the strides that have been made in general aviation security since the 9/11 terror attacks and all of the governmental reports that state GA isn't a significant threat, lawmakers are still trying to impose burdensome regulations on pilots.

Once again, AOPA is working to stop a bill in the New Jersey legislature that would require background checks for those seeking flight instruction. This is a measure AOPA has successfully fought each year since 2001.

"The Transportation Security Administration and FAA have covered the bases regarding the regulation of pilot licensing," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "Maintaining such authority at the federal level ensures a national standard and consistency across the country - this regulation is not needed."

In a letter to the bill's sponsor, New Jersey Senate Deputy Majority Leader Wayne R. Bryant, AOPA pointed out numerous security enhancements ranging from the TSA's Alien Flight Training Rule to improved airman certificates.

Under the TSA's Alien Flight Training rule, every person seeking initial flight training or instruction that would enhance flying skills in an aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds is required to prove his or her citizenship. The instructor must verify the citizenship and make a notation in his and the student's logbook or keep a copy of the documentation for five years.

Foreign students must provide a range of information, including fingerprints and a photo. That information must be kept on record for five years, and the TSA will use it to conduct a security threat assessment.

"If the TSA determines that a pilot poses a national security threat, it can direct the FAA to revoke that pilot's certificate," AOPA explained.

Pilots also are required to carry photo identification with them at all times while exercising the privileges of their certificates and to present that ID when requested by a federal government or law enforcement official.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is issuing airman certificates that are more difficult to counterfeit, and the FAA is developing a rule that would require all pilots to get a certificate that has photo ID, a hologram, and other counterfeit-resistant measures.

March 16, 2006

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