July 22 2012
On a No-Fly List? No Problem! You Can be Approved for Flight School
Vicki E. Alger
Maybe it’s time for the Transportation Security Administration to stop shaking down innocent citizens in airports and start beefing up its security checks of foreigners in training to fly planes in American skies. (See here for video)
Last week an investigation revealed an untold number among more than 25,000 foreigners registered to start flight training had not applied for security checks. As USA Today reported:
Foreign students are able to study at U.S. flight schools after entering the country illegally or without undergoing a security check required after the 2001 terrorist attacks, government investigators say.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported Wednesday that its investigators found that eight foreign nationals attending a Boston flight school in March 2010 had entered the country illegally. Seventeen more who received security checks had overstayed their allotted time in the country.
… Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., asked the TSA whether somebody on the terrorist watch list could begin flight training, in effect being allowed to fly a plane while not being allowed to board a commercial flight.
"That is true," said Kerwin Wilson, general-aviation manager at TSA. However, he added, it would take a long time for the student to complete training, and the background check could be completed during that time.
"I'm shocked that somebody on the no-fly list can be approved for flying lessons in this country," said the panel chairman, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala.
Sadly, this latest bureaucratic lapse in common sense and competence should be shocking…but to some of us, it sounds like business as usual.