September 09, 2020

Van Hollen, Inhofe, Cantwell, Moran Applaud FAA Action to Expand Aviation Workforce Training

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) applauded the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) move to implement two new aviation workforce grant programs authorized in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization bill that invest in and expand the development of the next generation of aircraft pilots and maintenance technicians. The FAA’s announcement follows a letter sent by the Senators last week, urging the Administration to move forward on these programs. 

“America’s aviation industry is full of opportunities for those seeking good-paying, challenging work. But many of these positions remain vacant, as a widening skills-gap prevents workers from having the qualifications they need. These new programs will help develop badly-needed workforce training programs, strengthening partnerships with local governments, schools, and labor groups to provide this training. As our economy continues to struggle under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, job training and re-training is all the more important. I’m glad to see the FAA heed our calls to move forward with these initiatives that will provide more American workers with the skills they need to obtain good-paying jobs,” said Senator Van Hollen. 

The FAA made the right choice this week by taking important steps to implement two new aviation workforce grant programs we authorized in 2018,” Senator Inhofe said. “As a pilot myself, I know just how important educating our nation’s future pilots is for the well-being of our country. Our aviation industry needs skilled workers and we can close the skills gap by working together to recruit and train qualified maintenance professionals needed to maintain the aircraft flying in our national airspace. Not only will these programs ensure we have enough pilots and maintenance professionals for years to come, but it will spur much needed economic activity as we continue to rebuild from COVID-19. I am proud to see we have an administration that prioritizes our the future of our aviation industry and I look forward to seeing these programs become reality.” 

“As we continue to grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s vital we continue to support skilling and training opportunities for our aviation workforce. I’m proud to have helped lead the creation of this program, which will help train Washingtonians to fill these good-paying jobs,” said Senator Cantwell. 

“I applaud the FAA’s forward action on implementing two grant programs that will help strengthen our aviation workforce by incentivizing the future generation of aviation professionals,” said Senator Moran. “These grants will support technical education and career development at a local level through grant opportunities provided to academia and the aviation community, and I look forward to continue working with my colleagues and the FAA on this important topic.”    

Section 625 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-254) authorized two aviation workforce grant programs to facilitate the development of the next generation of aircraft pilots and maintenance technicians. Congress fully funded the programs for fiscal year (FY) 2020 in the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-94). Of the two programs authorized, one will focus on pilot education, supporting the creation and delivery of curriculum designed to provide high school students with meaningful science, technology, engineering, math and aviation education. This program has the potential to grow our nation’s pilot workforce by encouraging our nation’s youth to become the next generation of commercial, general aviation, drone or military pilots. The second grant program will address the well-documented maintenance industry skills gap by encouraging and facilitating collaboration between schools, government, labor and industry to recruit and train the technical talent America’s aerospace sector will require to keep the nation’s aircraft operating safely and efficiently. 

These programs are supported by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) based in Frederick, Maryland.