Flight school checks a 9/11 legacy But instructors must remain alert on their own, too

January 31, 2012 · Posted in Education 

Following the events of the 9/11 attacks ten years ago, foreign students have greater difficulty than ever when attempting to enroll in American civilian flight schools, contradicting the old belief that America would be inviting and accessible to foreign people looking to learn; no doubt this is due to the fact that the 9/11 attackers had done just this.

Students and teachers aren’t screened carefully, so trainers and other personnel at the school need to watch for signs of a possible terrorist.

I have the phone number of the local Federal Burea of Investigation tacked to my wall. I wouldn’t have done that 10 years ago, but after the events of 9/11/2001, everything changed. said Patrick Murphy, director of training at Sunrise Aviation located in Ormond Beach, Florida.

100′s of US flight schools fiercely compete for students. Students are in high demand by flight schools. In Florida, some still pitch the good weather as a way for students to fly more often and finish programs faster. The hijackers from 9-11 looked for US flight schools were due to their brief training periods.

9/11 hijackers were in Florida Flight Schools before the bombing. The hijacking perpetrators were Mohamed Atta, Marwan al Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah who all took pilot training; the first 2 at Huffman Aviation and the 3rd at a nearby private pilot school.

The terrorists were able to get licenses and certifications in spite of the fact they were often rowdy and gave poor performances.

The U.S. commission that investigated the attacks said in its report that Atta and Shehhi quickly took solo flights and passed a private pilot airman test. Those two people registered at a different school at a later date, at which point a teacher stated that they were rude and mean, and often started fights in order to maintain controls in training flights. They failed an instruments rating exam. They went back to Huffman, undiscouraged. Meanwhile, Jarrah received a single-engine private pilot certificate.

Hani Hanjour studied in Arizona for his private license to pilot a plane and got it within three months. Several more months of training yielded a commercial pilot certificate, issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. In early 2001, he started training on a Boeing 737 simulator. The Commission has said that his work had been found substandard by his instructor and he was advised to quit, but he kept with it and graduated just five and a half month before the attacks.

Today, it would be tougher for the four men to enter U.S. flight schools.

There are much stricter visa processes for foreign students now. They are not able to begin until the TSA, started after September. Air travel, uses a fingerprint-initiated background check- with the FBI”s assistance, to run their name against terrorist watch lists. Every year, TSA agents visit certified flight schools, they verify students’ identities and make sure that their visas have not expired.

In addition, TSA gives its found information to other governmental organizations and also has layers of security created to catch criminals before they can act and do harm even if they managed to receive flight instruction in the U.S.

Flight schools are not always consistent or error free with regard to the increased measures.

There happens to be a large number of flight teachers who have access to planes and simulators as well that are not always checked upon by the TSA every year and are only subject to inspections at random.

The FAA keeps a database of the names of student pilots and this is accessible by the TSA.

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