Supervisors back stronger screening at flight schools for foreign students

In an effort to protect local airways from potential terrorists, a county ordinance will be developed to ensure foreigners learning to fly have been properly screened through federal programs.

San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to draft an ordinance requiring flight instructors at county airports to check that foreign student pilots have complied with all federal requirements.

The board action taken on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks will also include a letter of support from county supervisors to members of the U.S. Congress and the federal administration for House Resolution 6159, also known as the Flight School Security Act of 2012.

The federal bill requires foreign national flight students to be checked against a terrorist watch list.

Additionally, supervisors asked staff from the county’s legislative program to support all federal legislation that would address national security risks associated with flight schools.

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, some of the terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks trained at flight schools in Germany and in other U.S. states. Two of the terrorists lived and worked in San Diego, but were unsuccessful in attending a local flight school.

“It’s unconscionable, it’s unbelievable that here we are 11 years after the tragedy of 9/11 and the federal agencies responsible for keeping us safe have not responded to close the information gaps in the screening process so that’s why I’m asking my colleagues today to join me in urging the federal government to move quickly to fix the vetting process for foreign nationals who wish to train in the United States by supporting H.R. 6159,” said District 2 Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

“While this is a federal issue, we also need to develop a local ordinance that basically requires all flight schools and independent flight instructors at county airports to comply with all foreign flight screening and vetting requirements. “

   
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