Government Advocacy

Bill could fix California flight training fiasco

When the California legislature passed the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009, one of the unintended consequences of the bill threatened to devastate the state’s flight training industry. The act required new fees and reporting requirements that “would put most flight training businesses and independent CFIs out of business,” according to AOPA California Region Representative John Pfeifer.

Pfeifer and other AOPA staff worked with the National Air Transportation Association, other aviation organizations, and the state legislature in 2010 to delay the act’s implementation for the flight training industry until July 2011.

But another, more permanent fix is in the works.

State Sen. Jean Fuller authored a measure, Senate Bill 619, to exempt certain FAA-approved flight instructors and flight schools from the California Private Postsecondary Education Act. Flight instructors and flight schools that do not “require students to enter into written or oral contracts of indebtedness, do not require prepayment of tuition or fees, and do not accept prepayment of tuition or feeds in excess of $2,500” will be exempt if the bill becomes law.

The Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development passed the bill unanimously after hearing testimony on April 25.

Pfeifer testified that the postsecondary act “clearly stated that it was the intent of the legislature to ensure a regulatory structure that provides an appropriate level of oversight. I submit that onerous and expansive regulations that put flight instructors out of business even while there is no financial risk to the flight students is far from an appropriate level of oversight.” Flight instructor Marc Santacroce and Bridgeford Flying Services CEO Mark Willey also testified in support of the bill.

The bill will be reviewed next by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill would provide a long-term solution for flight schools and instructors, instead of the delayed implementation.

April 26, 2011

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