WASHINGTON — Legislation intended to strengthen the screening of those enrolling in flight schools was introduced Thursday, a day after a House panel expressed alarm that Homeland Security officials were not performing background checks on all students receiving flight instruction.
The legislation sponsored by Representative Bennie G. Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, was in response to a report released this week by the Government Accountability Office that showed weaknesses in the government’s checking of students.
The report was partly precipitated by an investigation into a Stow, Mass., flight school that trained 34 foreign nationals, many of them in the United States illegally.
Thompson wants Homeland Security officials to cross-check school enrollment lists with the “no-fly” list maintained by the Department of Transportation and bar anyone, including American citizens, on that list from getting flight training.
“We cannot allow loopholes exploited by the 9/11 hijackers to be exploited again,” Thompson said in a statement, noting that the terrorists who hijacked four commercial airliners on Sept. 11, 2001, received training from US flight schools.
“Everyone, including US citizens, should be vetted against the ‘no-fly’ list before beginning flight training. It’s common sense, straightforward policy to close a security gap that inexplicably persists over a decade after 9/11,” he said.