U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Republican leader, called the FAA’s latest proposal to develop a new pilot’s license “embarrassingly inadequate.”
“I am astounded that the FAA continues to ignore the will of Congress by proposing to develop yet another pilot’s license that still does not incorporate any biometric capabilities,” Mica said.
“The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 required the FAA to replace the old paper pilot certificates or licenses and issue improved licenses that are tamper-proof, contain a photo of the pilot and are biometrically-enabled,” Mica said. “Six years later, and after spending millions of dollars, the licenses are now plastic but still have no biometrics and the only pilots pictured on them are Wilbur and Orville Wright.”
Mica continued, “Biometrically-enabled licenses will allow for improved identification verification, security, and screening efficiencies. There is no excuse for this ongoing delay to heed these Congressional requirements. Biometric technologies are currently employed for access control at secure government facilities, including those of the Department of Defense and most nuclear power plants regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
“After years of delay, FAA is finally crawling towards compliance with the photograph requirement, but they inexplicably continue to ignore the Congressional directive to also include biometrics.”
The FAA has estimated the federal cost to replace the paper licenses with plastic cards to be as much as $6.75 million over five years.
The FAA announced the new proposal Nov. 18, and Mica immediately wrote to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt outlining his concerns.
“This embarrassingly inadequate response to a six-year old Congressional directive is simply unacceptable,” Mica concluded.