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Flight School Security Awareness Guide
by Mr. Frank J. Donahue, Jr.


The Aviation and Transportation Security Bill signed by the President of the United States requires that all Flight Schools conduct Security Awareness Program for flight school employees to increase their awareness of suspicious circumstances and activities of individuals enrolling in or attending flight school. This guide is written to assist the owners and managers of Flight Schools to comply with this requirement. Employees should receive initial training when first hired and at a minimum once, if not twice a year for recurrent training purposes. This training should be documented in any employee files for inspection by appropriate federal authority.


Since September 11, 2001, our country's aviation system has changed and in some re regards, rightfully so! These events served as a wake up call for the nation and more specifically, commercial aviation, corporate aviation, cargo/mail operations, general aviation, fixed based operators and yes, our Flight Schools.

It is not enough for the owners and managers of our flight schools to be security conscious, but each and every employee, operational or administrative, to be aware of any suspicious person or event and to know how to react to it.



  • When a prospective student comes to you for flight training, do not profile or make assumptions based on race, creed or color.
  • Do not be taken in by prospective student's verbal answers. Verified documentation is a must, such as a government issued Drivers License, Passport, Birth Certificate. Can this information be falsified-YES- but the below common sense approaches will assist you.


  • The prospective student must complete a company approved "Application for Training Request {Note: should be coordinated with Legal Counsel}
  • The prospective student should be interviewed by Flight School staff to determine his/her goals and objectives, past experience[s].
  • At a minimum, make a copy of the prospective student's- drivers license, passport, credit card, student pilot's license, AMP License if applicable. This information should be maintained for a period of two years after the student leaves training.
  • As a part of the Application process, request your local police department conduct a basic background investigation on the individual. Place the results in the persons file. Explain to all prospective students that this is a normal business method so as to avoid any complaints of prejudice.


  • Try to assign only one or two regular instructors to the student. This allows the instructors to share information on peculiarities and questions that the student may pose during training. These should be documented in the student's file to be shared by appropriate personnel.
  • It is incumbent on the Instructor[s] to share concerns with the management of the Flight School.
  • If there is questionable behavior or peculiar questions being asked by a student, management should make a conscious decision as to whether local law enforcement should be notified.


  • A prospective student who wishes to pay cash only!
  • A prospective student who is vague with answers, verbally and with their Application!
  • One who may have concern that their Application process will include a law enforcement check!
  • A student who continually wants to fly over a commercial airport setting!
  • A student who may ask questions that do not seem germane to instruction!
  • A student who may seem interested only in one portion of training!
  • One who appears on the surface to be living outside their means!


  • Flight Schools should consider assigning Student Identification that is in concert with the airport's identification system.
  • If a person's truthfulness is in question, do not confront, let management resolve.
  • If in doubt, document the essence of your conversations with the prospective student.

This document has been authored by Frank J. Donahue, Jr., Inc., "international security consultant" and may be reproduced and/or disseminated as widely as possible with permission from the author.

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