SD flight schools oppose proposed county ordinance

EL CAJON, Calif. - San Diego County flight instructors are opposing a proposed county ordinance that would force them to certify they have background checked foreign students.

"We need to bring pressure to bear on the feds to do their job properly," flight instructor Rich Martindell said.

"That's the TSA's job," American Aviation Academy president Tom Hannawa said in response to the county proposal.

According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, contrary to current regulations, foreign nationals are being trained to fly at some American flight schools with no background checks, including in San Diego.

"TSA has not ensured that all foreign nationals seeking flight training in the United States have been vetted," the GAO report said.

"National security is at risk here," San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said in 2012.  "Our federal government is allowing the breeding of a problem that should have been stopped a long time ago."

Jacob, who represents East County and oversees airports in the unincorporated portions of San Diego County, has been a vocal proponent to close the TSA gap.

"It seems nobody wants to take ownership of this," Jacob said. "Everybody is passing the buck. Everybody is pointing fingers to someone else and that's not a way to solve a problem."

With the federal government unable or unwilling to do the job, Jacob suggested what she said is a solution for San Diego County in the ordinance.

"I feel a responsibility to make sure that we do all that we can as a county government to keep the people safe," Jacob said in a previous interview with Team 10.

Flight instructors said they feel solving our countries flight training problem is beyond the scope of county government.

The full board of supervisors will vote on Jacob's proposal in February.

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