General Aviation Security: Weaknesses Exist in TSA's Process for Ensuring Foreign Flight Students Do Not Pose a Security Threat, Report to Congressional Requesters   [open pdf - 752KB]

"U.S. government threat assessments have discussed plans by terrorists to use general aviation aircraft--generally, aircraft not available to the public for transport--to conduct attacks. Also, the September 11, 2001, terrorists learned to fly at flight schools, which are within the general aviation community. TSA [Transportation Security Administration], within DHS, has responsibilities for general aviation security, and developed AFSP [Alien Flight Student Program] to ensure that foreign students enrolling at flight schools do not pose a security threat. GAO [Government Accountability Office] was asked to assess (1) TSA and general aviation industry actions to enhance security and TSA efforts to obtain information on these actions and (2) TSA efforts to ensure foreign flight students do not pose a security threat. GAO reviewed TSA analysis comparing FAA data from January 2006 to September 2011 on foreign nationals applying for airman certificates with AFSP data, and interviewed 22 general aviation operators at eight airports selected to reflect geographic diversity and variations in types of operators. This is a public version of a sensitive security report GAO issued in June 2012. Information TSA deemed sensitive has been omitted, including two recommendations on TSA's vetting of foreign nationals. [...] GAO recommends that TSA identify how often and why foreign nationals are not vetted under AFSP and develop a plan for assessing the results of efforts to identify AFSP-approved foreign flight students who entered the country illegally. DHS concurred with GAO's recommendations and indicated actions it is taking in response."

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Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
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Listed on July 25, 2012 [Critical Releases]