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March 19, 2013

Rep. Thompson Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Close Flight School Loophole

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, along with Reps. Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA), introduced H.R. 1245 - the Flight School Security Act. Under current law, flight instructors, pilot schools and aviation training centers can provide flight training to a U.S. citizen without checking with the Transportation Security Administration as to whether that person poses a homeland or national security risk.

Since 2003, any non-U.S. citizen seeking flight training on planes of a certain size must be checked against the terrorist watchlist before flight training is provided by a domestic flight school. However, terrorist watchlist checks on a U.S. citizen often do not occur until well after training is received and an individual applies for a certificate to take their first solo flight. Under H.R. 1245, prior to commencing training in the operation of any aircraft having a certain size, a terrorist watchlist check would be undertaken to ascertain if the individual may pose a threat to aviation or national security or a threat of terrorism.

Congressman Thompson released the following statement on H.R. 1245: "This bipartisan bill seeks to closes a very glaring security gap which a potential terrorist could exploit. All that the 9/11 hijackers needed to carry out their deadly attacks was flight training, not pilot licenses. Under my bill, anyone seeking flight school training would be checked against the No Fly List, just like anyone taking a domestic flight, before they begin training."

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security, added the following statement: "Every measure and precaution should be taken to ensure that we are not exposing innocent Americans to impending security threats. This bill strengthens our ability to close any safety gaps and prevents flight schools in this country from blindly aiding or abetting anyone who is on the terrorist watchlist, a precaution that can save lives."

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, released the following statement: "The Flight School Security Act of 2013 closes a glaring security loophole exposed by the September 11th attacks. This legislation ensures our flight schools are taking practical, common-sense measures to prevent terrorists from receiving the training they need to commit attacks. No potential terrorist who is prohibited from boarding an aircraft should be allowed to learn to fly one."

Bill Summary

Bill Text

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Media Contact:
(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978
(Richmond) Monique Waters at 202-225-6636
(Meehan) John Elizandro at 202-225-2011