After much publicity about international students on the TSA’s No-fly List being able to receive flight instruction in the United States, the FAA Safety Team has issued a notice to flight instructors reminding them of specific responsibilities mandated by Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Before providing instruction, certified flight instructors in the U.S. are required to check the student’s nationality. Flight schools must notify the TSA when a non-U.S. citizen applies for training, and those students must apply with the TSA under the Alien Flight Student Program prior to receiving flight instruction, a process that can take months to complete. This requirement applies to several ratings, not only the initial private pilot’s certificate.
It appears that many international students are also slipping through the cracks. Last month USA Today reported that an investigation by the Government Accountability Office found that an “undisclosed number” of foreign flight students were not in the TSA database and had not undergone security checks.
However, since the TSA regulations only apply to international flight students, U.S. citizens who have been labeled as terrorists and are on the No-fly List, which today includes more than 86,000 names, could still get through the system and receive flight training without any background check.
Instructors who need to familiarize themselves with or get a refresher on the TSA requirements can find more information here.