Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), ranking member of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, has introduced a bill (H.R. 6159) to close the flight training loophole exposed in a recent hearing of the committee.
The bill would require flight schools to check students — including U.S. citizens — against the terrorist watch list before they can be trained to fly aircraft of 12,500 pounds or more. Currently, only foreign-born aliens seeking flight training are vetted by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) before training can commence.
As previously reported in RotorNews®, the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on July 18 to examine flight training security. During questioning, the committee expressed concern over a loophole which requires alien flight students to undergo security vetting by the TSA, but non-aliens are not subject to any vetting.
“Everyone, including U.S. Citizens, should be vetted against the No Fly List before beginning flight training,” Thompson said. “It’s commonsense, straightforward policy to close a security gap that inexplicably persists over a decade after 9/11.”
The bill addresses one of a myriad issues with the security of flight training programs revealed in the hearing and in a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), entitled “A Decade After 9/11 Could American Flight Schools Still Unknowingly Be Training Terrorists?”
The report found that some foreign nationals showed up in one database but not another. Others had received training before undergoing a vetting process. It also cited instances where TSA granted illegal immigrants authorization to begin flight lessons.
The full text of the bill can be found here.