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Pilots Allowed to Fly Without Regular Criminal Background Checks

Pilots Allowed to Fly Without Regular Criminal Background Checks

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) claims that its standard for airline pilots is “good moral character.” However, it fails to conduct regular criminal background checks on its pilots. A recent investigation by WFAA-TV showed evidence that many pilots in Texas and other states were flying even though they had serious criminal convictions.

The Sobering Truth

The WFAA-TV investigation revealed that more than 80 Texas-based airline pilots were licensed to fly passengers even though they had criminal convictions. In Florida, several dozens more were discovered, and an investigation into Oklahoma also revealed a shocking number of licensed airline pilots who had criminal convictions.

Several of these convictions involved:

  • Multiple DUIs
  • Sexual assault
  • Substance abuse
  • Indecent exposure
  • Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
  • Aggravated sexual assault of a child

The FAA conducts a criminal background check on pilots before they are hired. However, it admits to not having enough resources to conduct regular criminal background checks on licensed pilots after they are hired. Instead, it relies on medical disclosure forms that pilots must fill out each year. This basically requires the pilots to incriminate themselves on the form by checking a box as to whether or not they have been convicted of a crime, which would put their career at risk. The investigation revealed that many pilots lie on the form, and the FAA is content to believe them.

Possible Legislative Action Could Result in Change

Reforms to FAA practices may change this process in the future. This would help keep airline pilots more accountable and hold them to the strict moral standards set forth in the FAA guidelines. Time will tell what new legislation, if any, arises to address this issue, and what effect it will have on those responsible for transporting us around the world.

Contact our Friendswood criminal defense attorneys today to schedule a consultation.