TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Nicholas J. Sacco and Joseph V. Doria which would require additional verification of a prospective pilot’s identity before he or she can rent an airplane was signed into law yesterday by Governor Codey.
“We’ve witnessed first-hand the destruction caused when terrorists use airplanes as weapons against targets in the United States,” said Senator Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen, the Chairman of the Transportation Committee. “The sheer devastation caused by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 has rallied legislators to take a much closer look at perceived threats to our homeland security. Closing the identity verification loophole for pilots in New Jersey will keep the skies safer above the Garden State.”
The bill, S-1738, will require that any person or business that provides aircraft for rental in New Jersey must check the information on an individual’s pilot certificate or license against another government-issued form of photo identification, such as a State driver’s license or passport. Under current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, pilots’ certificates and licenses do not contain a photo of the licensee, though the agency has been considering a change for a number of years.
“While we’re waiting for more secure pilots’ licenses from the FAA, we are vulnerable today from attack,” said Senator Doria, D-Hudson. “We cannot risk the possibility that our nation’s enemies will exploit a national security gap in pilot IDs to once again take out their political vendetta against innocent Americans. Today’s move by Governor Codey has removed a potential weapon from terrorists’ access, and has made life safer for millions of New Jerseyans who work in high-profile targets for terrorist attack.”
The new law also requires that a copy of the photo identification be made and kept on file by the aircraft provider. Amendments to the bill, approved in the Senate Transportation Committee in November, require that the information be kept on file for five years. Originally, the period of time that the information had to be kept was to be determined by the Commissioner of Transportation.
The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 38-1 in May, and was approved by the Assembly by a vote of 74-0 in February.