Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, introduced the "Flight School Security Act of 2012" (H.R. 6159) to address a glaring security loophole that was revealed at a Transportation Security Subcommittee hearing yesterday. During questioning by Ranking Member Thompson, the Subcommittee learned that while aliens that seek training in U.S. flight schools are subject to security vetting by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) under a program that has been in place for a decade, every other flight student is allowed to receive such training without so much as a simple check against the TSA "No Fly List'. The Nation learned a painful lesson on September 11, 2001, when pilot training provided by domestic flight training schools was exploited to deadly effect.
During the hearing yesterday, testimony also underscored the need for a change in current law to close this dangerous loophole. Under the "Flight School Security Act of 2012", TSA would be required to check each person seeking instruction from a flight school in an aircraft or aircraft simulator against the No Fly List and provide the school with information on whether that person has been positively vetted as a non-threat to aviation security. The vetting would occur before the individual begins training.
Congressman Thompson released the following statement with the introduction of the bill:
"We cannot allow loopholes exploited by the 9/11 hijackers to be exploited again. Everyone, including U.S. Citizens, should be vetted against the No Fly List before beginning flight training. Its commonsense, straightforward policy to close a security gap that inexplicably persists over a decade after 9/11."
The Flight School Security Act of 2012 was also cosponsored by Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), and Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA).