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NEW JERSEY LAW THREATENS SOARING

"Welcome to our gliderport - now if you'll just provide photo ID, stand still for fingerprinting and wait a few days or so to hear from State DOT about whether you pass a 'background identity check,' we'd be happy to take you up for your first glider ride."

Think that can't happen? It could in New Jersey, if - within the next 45 days -Governor James E. McGreevey doesn't VETO legislation passed Monday, June 23 by the State Assembly.


The pending law is available online at LAW . This current version deletes provisions which would have made certain people ineligible for flight training, based on a background check for certain criminal convictions. Still, the innocuous-sounding "background identity check" is not at all soaring friendly! Consider

- introductory glider flights conducted by CFIs could be considered "flight instruction" - requiring the ride-taker to be fingerprinted and pass a "background identity check" before flying!

- the "background identity checks" require students to pay an unspecified and apparently unresearched fee for fingerprinting and screening by State Police and the FBI. (Similar legislation proposed last year in several states cited costs varying from $40 to $200 for these procedures.)

- the photo ID requirement and "background identity check procedures are "redundant in cases where pilots in training hold Student or higher grade pilot certificates. Federal laws at 14CFR61, section 3 (FAR 61.3) and 14 CFR61, section 18 (FAR 61.18) were amended earlier this year to require that (1) all certificated pilots carry photo ID while flying and (2) all certificated pilots are subject to security screening by the Transportation Security Administration.

- as FAA Deputy Chief counsel James W. Whitlow has phrased it with respect to the Federal Aviation Act and Congressional intent to preclude suplementation by the States, "Especially pertinent is the fact that the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has found state lawmaking in the area of pilot qualification to be pre-empted (by federal law)" (Legal cite: French vs Pan Am Exp, inc, 869 Fd1, 6-7 (1st Circuit 1989), "The intricate web of statutory provisions affords no room for the implementation of state law criteria vis-a-vis pilot suitability.")

Governor McGreevey has not signed the new legislation into law... he has 45 days to do so and he also has the option of doing nothing - in which case the legislation goes into effect by default. New Jersey soaring pilots need the Governor's VETO and comments to that effect should be sent by e-mail, using the form available at: VETO

The Governor's office advises that "OTHER" should be selected as the subject line topic, so comments go to the correct in-box.

Posted: 6/24/2003 By: General News


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