Eight general aviation organizations have expressed their concerns about H.R. 4149, which would improve delivery of flight training benefits for veterans, but cap payments for that flight training.
The GA group letter was signed by top officials at the Experimental Aircraft Association, Air Medical Operators Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Air Transportation Association, National Association of State Aviation Officials, and the National Business Aviation Association. It was addressed to Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tennessee), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, and Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minnesota), the committee’s ranking member.
The GA advocates noted that unlike other degree programs at public colleges and universities, H.R. 4149 caps payments for flight training programs. That would unfairly impact the ability of veterans to pursue well-paying jobs in the civilian aviation sector.
“Capping funds available for flight training degree programs virtually guarantees that veterans seeking to use their GI Bill benefits to enter the aviation industry will have insufficient funds to achieve their goals,” the letter stated. “They will either abandon their pursuit or be burdened with significant personal debt through either expenditure of personal funds or taking on student loans. This will harm veterans and limit the employment opportunities in the aviation industry.”
The GA group noted there are several areas of the bill that do benefit veterans seeking flight training education. Those include accelerated payment programs that provide a more efficient funding mechanism, coverage for private pilot training as part of the requirements of a professional flight training program, and flexibility for public schools to contract for flight training.
“While the current bill contains numerous provisions to improve the program’s efficiency, the proposed capping of program payments undermines the important goal of helping our nation’s veterans enter a field where they are desperately need,” the letter concluded.