The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously backed federal legislation to tighten scrutiny on foreign nationals who attempt to receive flight training in the U.S.
The supervisors also called for the creation of a local ordinance to require the 11 flight schools that operate at county-run airports to comply with vetting and screening programs for foreign students.
Seven are at Gillespie Field in El Cajon and three of them primarily serve international would-be pilots, said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who brought the proposal to the board.
“Some of these flight students could pose a national security threat and might still be allowed to receive flight training in the United States," Jacob said.
Jacob said federal agencies have not done enough to prevent a reoccurrence of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Two of the pilots who crashed the four planes on 9/11 trained in San Diego.
She cited a July report from the General Accounting Office that said foreign nationals who are security risks could use loopholes in order to receive flight training.
“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,” Jacob said.
HR 6159 would require that all foreign nationals who apply to flight schools be checked against a terrorist watch list. The Flight School Security Act of 2012 has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Transportation.
Jacob said operators of the flight schools in the county were not to blame for the problem.
– City News Services