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NAFI, EAA Strongly Oppose Burdensome Maryland Bills

A legislator in Maryland has introduced a pair of bills that place what the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) calls “excessive burdens” on airports, flight schools, students and instructors.

MD House Bill 1208, introduced by State Delegate Joan Pitkin (D) from Bowie, Maryland, would require criminal background checks and fingerprinting of all employees and contractors who work at state airports and of all prospective and current students at state “air schools.”

Pitkin’s other bill, House Bill 1005, would prohibit an “air school” from teaching a student who has not been approved by the Executive Director of the Maryland Aviation Administration. Flight students would also be required to submit an application, fingerprints and specified fees to the Aviation Administration, and the Executive Director would be required to conduct a specified state and national criminal background investigation. It would also force the industry to absorb the cost of these requirements, estimated at $2,000 per student or more.

NAFI, an affiliate of EAA, successfully opposed an attempt to enact similar restrictive legislation in Florida last year introduced in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. NAFI members, EAA Chapter leaders and members in Maryland are being asked to contact their legislators to strongly oppose this legislation.

“The Aviation Security Act signed by President Bush on November 19 should eliminate the flight school security concerns of Maryland legislators,” said NAFI President Sean Elliott. “The new federal law already requires background checks of foreign nationals seeking flight training (including simulators) for aircraft weighing more than 12,500 lbs., but does not impose what NAFI feels are unwarranted burdens on the overwhelming majority of legitimate, law-abiding, U.S. citizens seeking flight training through FAA-approved flight schools and independent flight instructors.” NAFI urges that proposed legislation in Maryland House Bill 1005 be dropped altogether by Maryland’s legislature.

“The Aviation Security Act adequately addresses the security concerns of the Maryland legislators,” said Elliott. “It correctly focuses specifically on the aircraft that can pose security threats as well as undocumented foreign students. NAFI strongly urges the Maryland legislature to let the new federal law work.”