San Diego County Considers Tighter Flight School Rules

Three 9/11 hijackers took flight classes at Montgomery Field in 2000

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will vote Wednesday on a new security measure proposed for local airports.

    If approved, the county would require flight schools to monitor and get background checks on foreign students.

    Three of the men who carried out the attack on 9/11 lived, studied and even took flying lessons in San Diego

    Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, and Hani Hanjour were hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11 killing 64 aboard the plane and 125 on the ground.

    Stricter Checks on Flight Students Proposed

    [DGO] Stricter Checks on Flight Students Proposed
    Stricter background checks for foreign flight students in San Diego. It's a proposal the county is voting on but some flight schools say its not exactly necessary. NBC 7's Elena Gomez reports.

    Investigators later discovered Hanjour and al-Mihdhar took flying lessons at a flight school based at Montgomery Field in 2000 telling their instructor they wanted to fly Boeing jets.

    More than a decade later, the county is still working to address security issues at the region’s smaller airports.

    A main concern for one board member is that many foreign flight students aren't getting properly background checked.

    One instructor NBC 7 talked with says at any given time at least 400 flight students are foreign.

    Right now, before any foreign student can learn to fly here, flying schools are required to give that person's name, picture, and fingerprint to the TSA to verify they've been cleared.

    The problem is Supervisor Dianne Jacob says that’s not being done.

    A federal report from 2012 found that 25,000 foreigners applied for a pilot's license in the U.S.

    An unknown amount of them had not been background checked or monitored by the TSA.

    “It's simply signing a document, a one-page document that certifies they're complying with the law. If they're already doing it, then why is that a problem to them," Jacob asked.

    Jacob wants schools to verify with the county they are complying with TSA rules.

    Flight instructors say the proposal would be redundant.

    “Well, it's a duplicative idea. It would be a waste of county resources to have people doing what the federal government is already doing," said flight instructor Rich Martindell.

    The County Board of supervisors will vote on the ordinance at the meeting which begins at 9 a.m.

    There will be public comment before the vote.