San Diego County flight schools face increased oversight

Plan requires foreign student background checks

SAN DIEGO - San Diego County government officials are going to try to do something the federal government hasn't been able to -- force flight schools to background check foreign students.

For more than a year, Team 10 has been questioning why the federal government hasn't closed a loophole that allows foreign students to receive flight training in the United States without a background check.

Two Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers received flight training at San Diego's Montgomery field in 2000. The two helped fly American Airlines flight 77 into the Pentagon.

Congressional hearings on the issue of flight trainee background checks were held in 2012. The Transportation Security Administration director said he couldn't assure the American people foreign terrorists are not in this country learning to fly.

A 2012 report to congress echoed the sentiment.

"It seems pretty simple to me," San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said.

Jacob has authored a one-page proposed ordinance that would force flight schools in San Diego County to background check foreign pilots before training them.

Read the ordinance here: http://bit.ly/1bNYmDR

"I felt and I feel a responsibility to make sure that we do all that we can as a county government to keep the people safe," she said.

The full board of supervisors will vote on the proposed ordinance in February.

Opponents say the proposal offers too much regulation and cite the expense to flight schools in conducting background checks on all foreign students.

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