American citizens, thanks to a government regulation, can enroll and attend flight school even though they appear on a no-fly list because of being suspected of involvement with terrorist activities. They are not even required to have a background check taken prior to being qualified.
The loophole in the system was discussed during a Wednesday hearing that was examining the security programs at the Homeland Security Department. These programs screen foreigners who want to attend flight schools in the U.S. A number of the terrorists who took part in the attack on 9/11 had attended different flight schools around the U.S., even though some of them were illegally in the U.S. or had overstayed their visa, but did not leave the U.S.
After the terrorist attacks that day, a number of new security measures were put into place to prevent any further terrorists from enrolling in flight schools in the United States. However, all of the regulations put into place were for foreigners and not U.S. citizens.
Mike Rogers, a U.S. Representative from Alabama told the hearing that he was both angry and stunned to hear the laws do not cover American citizens. Rogers said that the government has requirements for an individual to get a pilot’s license or a flight certificate, which includes going through screening for a criminal background and one for a terrorist check against known watch lists. However, he said if someone in the U.S. is not allowed to fly on plane because of posing a terror threat, then he or she should not have any right to fly a plane either.
A TSA official, who oversees the flight school screening program, said he is not aware of any U.S. citizens who appeared on no-fly lists, but had undergone flight training in the last decade.