The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), an IAFTP Affiliate Member, reported in its 25 July edition of eMentor that the U.S. Government Accountability Office says some foreign flight students enter the U.S. illegally without proper vetting. According to NAFI, there is significant concern that any potential remedy for this perceived problem must not limit the ability of the flight training community to provide training to customers.
According to one press report (The Hill), TSA has defended its handling of foreign flight training, which is done through a program known as the Alien Flight Student Program.
“Under the [AFSP] program, non-U.S. citizens seeking to undergo Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified flight training are required to submit to a rigorous background screening that includes a name-based terrorism check, a name-based immigration check, a fingerprint-based criminal history records check, submittal of security documents including passport copies, and specific information about their desired training events,” TSA Manager for General Aviation Kerwin Wilson said in testimony submitted to the panel.
Wilson said he agreed with lawmakers that foreign flight students had to be thoroughly checked, but he said it was important to the U.S. economy to offer flight training to students from other nationalities.
Is this only a U.S. problem or does it relate to the much broader challenge of verifying individual pilot identity and competency throughout our global industry?