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New Flight Training Rules Proposed

June 11, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Companies that teach pilots to fly large aircraft would need permission from Attorney General John Ashcroft to instruct a noncitizen under rules proposed Tuesday by the Justice Department.

Congress has mandated that noncitizens be screened by the attorney general in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Public comment on the new rules will be accepted for 30 days before they are enforced.

``Carefully screening individuals who come to the United States to learn to fly large aircraft is a safeguard needed to prevent future acts of terrorism,″ Ashcroft said in a statement. ``The screening system, when fully implemented, will enhance air safety by denying would-be terrorists the keys to the cockpit.″

Immediately after Sept. 11, the Justice Department stopped all training of noncitizens. The screening rules, which apply to training for aircraft over 12,500 pounds, must be in place before most training can be resumed.

Ashcroft has directed the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force to conduct the investigation of immigrants seeking flight training in the United States.

The task force has developed an Internet application for noncitizens that must be accompanied by fingerprints and a criminal records check.

The Justice Department has 45 days after receiving an application to determine whether a noncitizen would pose a risk.

The government is making an exception for noncitizen pilots who receive training to keep their licenses current. They may use an expedited processing system, now under way, that requires sending minimal identification to the Justice Department. In many cases, the expedited processing is expected to take less than a week.

Before the expedited system, noncitizen pilots could apply to the Justice Department for advance permission, largely based on prior records.

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