AOPA Takes On New York's Pilot Background Checks

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Buttressing its argument with the negative effect on small business and significant logistical obstacles that prevent the law from fully achieving its goals, AOPA has filed a federal lawsuit against New York state's pilot criminal background check requirement. More to the point: "This law is unnecessary, discriminatory, anti-business and ineffective," said AOPA president Phil Boyer, "and it violates the U.S. Constitution." AOPA further argues that because Congress has enacted legislation to create a single system of aviation security regulation to be maintained by the federal government, any state attempt to do so is therefore preempted. [more]

If allowed, the potential for conflicting or wholly inconsistent laws adopted by separate states could frustrate the purpose of security regulation, argues AOPA. Presently, the New York law presents a clear logistical problem due its requirement that background checks go through the FBI, AOPA says. It adds that the FBI will not provide access to its criminal database when the information "is to be provided to a third party." This, according to AOPA, means the FBI's national database would be off limits to those tasked with searching it and only local criminal histories would be accessible, resulting in severely compromised screening. AOPA's lawsuit also represents small businesses financially affected by the law -- at least two plaintiffs (a flight school and a flying club) have been unable to continue with training due in part to the law's requirements, according to the suit.