AOPA filed a motion for summary judgment in federal court last week, asking the judge to overturn the state's requirement that student pilots have a background check and receive permission from the state's commissioner of criminal justice information services before receiving flight training. In its lawsuit, AOPA contends that the law is unconstitutional because the regulation of aviation has been reserved to the federal government.
"The issue is not about security, but rather what part of government has the authority and responsibility for aviation security," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "This is a federal responsibility, and the FAA and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) already have a number of specific regulatory requirements for those learning to fly.
"This law just creates an impediment for those who want to learn to fly in New York. The state should follow AOPA's example and work with the federal authorities - as we did with the TSA to develop the Airport Watch Program."
The attorneys for the state are expected to respond to AOPA's motion by early May. If the judge is willing, he can make a decision without the issue going to a trial.
AOPA opposed the bill in the New York legislature and sought the governor's veto.
"Those were political decisions, but the judge will decide on the law," Boyer said, "and we believe the law and previous court decisions are firmly on our side."
April 12, 2007