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Security Tightening at Ramona Airport Flight School That Services Foreign Nationals

Supervisor Dianne Jacob was among many that supported tightened security at flight schools across the county, including one in Ramona.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously backed federal legislation to tighten scrutiny on foreign nationals who attempt to receive flight training in the United States at their meeting on Tuesday.

The supervisors also ordered staff to create a local ordinance to require 11 flight schools that operate at San Diego County-run airports to comply with vetting and screening programs for foreign students. One of those flight schools is located at Ramona Airport.

Seven are at El Cajon's Gillespie Field, three of which primarily serve international would-be pilots, said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who brought the proposal to the board.

"It's my understanding that the majority of students at these three flight schools are foreign nationals," Jacob said. "Some of these flight students could pose a national security threat and might still be allowed to receive flight training in the United States."

Three more schools at county-run airfields are at McClellan-Palomar Airport.

Jacob said federal agencies have not done enough to prevent a reoccurrence of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. She cited a July report from the General Accounting Office that said foreign nationals who are security risks could use loopholes in order to receive flight training.

"It's unconscionable, it's unbelievable, that here we are, 11 years after the tragedy of 9/11, and the federal agencies responsible for keeping us safe have not responded to close the information gaps in the screening process," Jacob said.

HR 6159 would require all foreign nationals who apply to flight schools be checked against a terrorist watch list. The Flight School Security Act of 2012 has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Transportation.

Jacob said the operators of the flight schools in San Diego County were not to blame for the problem.

-City News Service contributed to this report

Whisky Foxtrot September 13, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Thanks, I'll have an order of hysteria. Oh, make that a double!
TJ September 14, 2012 at 02:09 AM
with or without imported cheese?
Whisky Foxtrot September 14, 2012 at 11:04 PM
>>Jacob said federal agencies have not done enough to prevent a reoccurrence of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.<< If she was in the aviation industry she wouldn't be saying that. Since 9/11 we've gotten the TSA, secure cockpit doors, armed pilots, new security procedures and awareness and NO HIJACKINGS. In fact just knowing that potential hijackers wanted to destroy the plane instead of just go to Cuba was a major step.

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