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Flight instructors, flight schools, and foreign nationals seeking to obtain flight training, take notice! On December 22, 2021, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced a change to the Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP). The AFSP has been renamed the Flight Training Security Program (FTSP). Not to worry, as there do not appear to be any substantive changes to the program—TSA states, “There are no changes to the regulation or the program at this time.” The current AFSP website URL, www.flightschoolcandidates.gov, will be deactivated on February 4, 2022, and updated to www.fts.tsa.dhs.gov. The new URL should be active by the time you are reading this.
For those who are not familiar with the FTSP, 49 C.F.R. Part 1552, which contains the regulatory basis for the program, prohibits a flight school (including independent flight instructors) from providing flight training to foreign nationals unless they have first passed a TSA security threat assessment. It is important to remember that there are several times where a foreign national may have to obtain a security threat assessment throughout their aviation career, including before receiving flight training for an initial FAA pilot certificate, an instrument rating, or a multi-engine rating. Additionally, a security threat assessment must be passed before receiving flight training in the operation of a large aircraft (i.e., maximum certified takeoff weight of more than 12,500 pounds). Finally, be sure to remember that a security threat assessment must be passed again when a foreign national transfers to a new flight school, even if they had previously been vetted to train for the same certificate or rating through a prior school.
For more information, check out AOPA’s guide to the Alien Flight Training Program.