The FAA vowed after September 11th to improve its ways. Congress had called upon them to overhaul their licensing model for the more than 600,000 pilots certified in the US. However, as the next story will prove, they didn’t really do that.
Our story starts with Mr Nader Ali Sabouri Haghighi. Ha was of Iranian descent and had his pilot license revoked years earlier apparently.
But the Federal Aviation Administration was kind enough to mail him a new one when he asked. You see, Mr Haghighi had called them and said his name was Daniel George and that he had lost his license.
Given that he had worked together with a pilot actually named Daniel George he was able to provide answers to the questions that the FAA posed him over the phone. Afterwards, and without any further proof needed, the FAA mailed him a new license, with George’s name on it.
That is all he needed, together with a fake ID, either a driver’s license or a passport, because, the FAA pilot license still does not have a picture on it. Allow me to repeat that for your kind consideration: 16 years after 9/11, the FAA pilot license does not have .a picture on it.
In a congressional investigation a few years ago, Republican Representative John Mica, called US pilot licenses issued by the FAA “a joke” and said that ‘a day pass to Disney World’ had more sophisticated security measures on it than the license they issued.
Furthermore, it would appear that anyone allowed by the FAA on the tarmac of an international airport, be it pilots, mechanics, flight attendants, and other aviation personnel, all get the same standard license without picture. If you ask us, that’s quite easy to remake. You would really think that in the last two decades they could have updated this.
The FAA’s kindness to Mr Haghihi didn’t stop there. After he crashed a plane during a failed drug run and served a few years in prison, he left the US but called upon the FAA again to issue him a medical certificate to land a job at an airline in Indonesia in 2014. He just had to change one letter in the spelling of his last name and alter his birth date to match his new fake ID.
Luckily by then, an official at the FBI tipped off the FAA to Haghighi’s duplicity. Finally as from 2015, the FAA stopped sending him documents.