New Bill May Protect California Flight Schools
A California law passed in 2009 that aimed to protect students from losing their tuition if a school closes down now may exempt flight-training facilities that don't collect up-front tuitions, NATA said this week. A bill providing the exemption was passed on Monday by a state senate committee. "This, however, is only the first step in getting relief for flight training into law," NATA said. The 2009 law imposed "burdensome requirements" on all providers of flight training, NATA said, including annual fees and numerous administrative chores, including a requirement to allow annual audits. An extension was passed last year to allow flight-training providers until July 2011 to comply, giving GA advocacy groups more time to try to work out a long-term solution.
The new bill says that flight instructors and flight schools that do not "require students to enter into written or oral contracts of indebtedness, do not require prepayment of tuition or fees, and do not accept prepayment of tuition or feeds in excess of $2,500" will be exempt from the 2009 law, AOPA said this week. The senate committee passed the bill unanimously after hearing testimony from AOPA California Region Representative John Pfeifer, flight instructor Marc Santacroce, and Bridgeford Flying Services CEO Mark Willey. Pfeifer said the 2009 law "clearly stated that it was the intent of the legislature to ensure a regulatory structure that provides an appropriate level of oversight. I submit that onerous and expansive regulations that put flight instructors out of business even while there is no financial risk to the flight students is far from an appropriate level of oversight." The bill will be reviewed next by the California Senate Appropriations Committee, AOPA said.