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NAFI Works on GAO Concern Over Flight-Training Candidates
ALLEGAN, MI.  (August 15, 2012) A few weeks ago the General Accountability Office (GAO) reported to Congress its concern over the vetting process for U.S. and non-U.S. citizens seeking flight training. As this discussion has continued, NAFI is working with the Transportation Security Administration and aviation associations to explore and attempt to provide solutions to questions relating to the vetting and authorization process for noncitizens and further to the question of the vetting of citizens compared to the federal "no-fly list."  This has been followed by a new bill in Congress addressing these concerns.  NAFI will be working with TSA and aviation associations to respond to the current bill (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:h.r.6159).
In this effort, some initial questions are being addressed. The first is the regulatory or legal basis by which an individual who is on the "no-fly list" is prohibited from being a pilot.  It is NAFI’s understanding that in accordance with 49 USC 44903 (www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/49/44903) there is a basis for this prohibition.
For all FAA certificate holders, it is NAFI’s understanding that individuals with a certificate (sport pilot, recreational pilot, private pilot, commercial pilot, ATP) are continually vetted against the no-fly list as a collaborative effort among the FAA and other agencies. Any potential risk of having an individual who might appear on the no-fly list receiving flight training at this time appears to be limited to the time prior to certification. This would be the time period where any individual receiving flight training would be limited in authorized activity by instructor endorsement, to limited time periods, limited aircraft, and limited range of operations. In fact, for the majority of this time the individual is with the instructor, except for the short periods of solo flight he or she conducts.
The risk of these moments is a small window in the training process. Indication that this risk is small should in no way be construed as an indication that NAFI is dismissing the consideration.
In a teleconference today, NAFI and other associations discussed potential additional considerations with the TSA and is beginning to evaluate risk and potential solutions to the ramifications of the House bill.  A method being discussed that would include vetting at the student pilot certificate level which would increase the footprint of vetting and lower the potential for any non-authorized individuals to be able to fly an aircraft solo, even prior to certification at a higher level.
Further discussion of these concerns also relates to the identified risk for flight training in general aviation aircraft.  The TSA and aviation associations continue to collaborate on development of the Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) that directly addresses aircraft of a size that are identified as a security risk.
"NAFI's goal is to alleviate any concern of a security risk for our aviation community, while ensuring that any procedural efforts are conducted in a logical manner that is in accordance with established regulatory and/or legal basis, and in a manner that is not obstructionist to the conduct of flight training in the United States" said NAFI Executive Director, Jason Blair.
NAFI will be providing more information after some upcoming discussions and are confident that a good solution can be developed that allows flight-training providers to expeditiously continue flight training for customers while at the same time helping remedy any potential security gaps in our system.

The National Association of Flight Instructors’ members work at flight schools, universities, FBO’s, corporate flight departments, in the military, and as independent instructors. NAFI was founded in 1967 and its members, who now teach in 17 countries, are dedicated to raising and maintaining the professionalism of flight instruction.

NAFI members influence active pilots daily; pilots training to advance their skills with new ratings or certificates and students working to become pilots. NAFI staff also works with industry and government and serves as a voice for flight instruction. NAFI shapes the direction of flight training.

For more information, visit www.NAFINet.org or call 866-806-6156.