A flying school that maintains facilities that interfere with the customary use and enjoyment of property by neighboring landowners can be liable for nuisance or trespass. A student pilot flying with a flight instructor is considered legally to be a passenger, and, therefore, the school owes the same duty of care to the student as a commercial airline owes to its passenger. A trainee, however, assumes certain risks while being taught to fly and the school can successfully assert the defense of ASSUMPTION OF THE RISK in tort cases. A member of a flight club, as an owner of an airplane that belongs to the club, may be held personally liable for accidents that might occur while he or she is piloting the craft. Statutes that govern the liability of a flight club member should be consulted.
Following the SEPTEMBER 11TH TERRORIST ATTACKS, Congress moved to tighten regulations on flying schools. Terrorists who hijacked and crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had trained at flying schools in the United States. The goal of the post-September 11 reform is to make information about foreign flight school enrollees more readily accessible to law enforcement agencies.
Under the USA PATRIOT ACT OF 2001, flying schools are one of several types of educational institutions required to participate in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) implemented by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Exempt from federal privacy restrictions, SEVIS is a database of information about foreign students, such as identification, visa status, and criminal data. Flying schools failing to participate in SEVIS may lose their ability to enroll international students. Under broadened powers granted by the PATRIOT Act, the U.S. Attorney General may make use of such information to seize educational records, conduct surveillance, bypass certain SEARCH WARRANT requirements, and take into custody ALIENS whose visa status is in violation.
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