Obtaining permission to fly...
In continuing with the theme of writing blogs about my entire journey - including those bits that haven't been blogged about by others before - I thought I'd write a quick bit about applying to the Transport Security Administration for any readers who may be interested. This application forms part of the administration process for applying to commence flight training in the United States.
Who are the T.S.A.?
If you haven't guessed already based on the big logo, the T.S.A. are the Transport Security Administration and are part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an equivalent body to the Home Office here in the UK. The T.S.A. are charged with the responsibility of security at and around many airports in the U.S.
Why does the T.S.A. matter to a trainee pilot?
In the words of the T.S.A themselves:
We ensure that foreign students seeking training at flight schools regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) do not pose a threat to aviation or national security. Under delegation by the Department of Homeland Security, the T.S.A. are the responsible body for conducting such security threat assessments.
What does the application process involve?
The application process consists of a number of stages:
- Online Application Form
International trainee pilots, or 'aliens' as the United States refer to foreigners, have to complete an online application form. The form asks a series of questions but is in no way as comprehensive as the DS-160 form completed during the visa process. It did, however, ask for the full address of every property you've lived in for periods of over 30 consecutive days within the last five years and, given I was a university student and moved around a lot, this was a fun memory game! CTC Aviation provided us each with an application guide such to expedite the process and only provide the absolute minimum requirements. With a flight date of the 1st of March, and our first DA40 flights scheduled about 10 days after that it is crucial that security checks are completed as quickly as possible. Two separate applications needed to be made, one for the DA40 and another for the DA42. As part of the form you have to select your FAA approved flight school from a list.
- School Verification
Given the time difference in Arizona compared with the UK and the fact I submitted my application around 8pm, CTC's U.S. admin team approved my application within about 10 minutes of me accepting it thus declaring to the T.S.A. that I'm telling the truth and will in fact start a training course there in the not too distant future.
- Screening Fee Payment
Like all things in aviation, a price is involved. Each screening application has a $130 dollar price tag. As with our visa fees, this is included within our course cost and thus CTC's finance teams pay the balance.
- Screening Process
Only the T.S.A. know what happens here, but no doubt you can guess. There's not much more to say here. Once your application is screened the T.S.A. provide the outcome by email. At the time of writing I'm still waiting for my email, however I'm not expecting anything to crop up. All being well we are then preliminarily approved for flight training subject to fingerprinting.
- Finger Printing
On arriving in the U.S. the school arrange for the T.S.A. or appropriate body to collect our fingerprints. This step concludes the T.S.A. application and you are then cleared to commence flight training. At the time of writing this post my first DA40 flight is still a few weeks away, but I can't wait!
So there you have it, I hope you've found the post interesting and are having a good start to your New Year.
A new ground school post will be up soon, I promise!
All the best.