A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives May 8, 2018, to establish an aviation maintenance workforce development pilot program.
Introduced by a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers, including Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), and Rep. Brenda Lawrence, (D-Mich.) H.R. 5701 is designed to encourage more men and women to pursue careers in aviation.
“H.R. 5701 would incentivize businesses, labor organizations, schools, and governmental entities to work together to pursue strategies to develop technical talent and encourage workers to pursue aviation careers,” Graves said. “Studies show that in just four years, we will not have enough aviation maintenance technicians to meet the demand for those services and skills in the aviation industry.”
The bill was quickly lauded by the aviation industry, as a coalition of 20 general aviation groups sent a letter of support for the bill to House congressional leaders.
The letter to House leaders noted: “An analysis by Boeing suggests that 118,000 new technicians will be needed in North America over the next two decades. The consulting firm Oliver Wyman has forecast that demand for aviation maintenance technicians will outstrip supply by 2022.”
The House bill would create a new program administered by the FAA to provide grants of up to $500,000 to support aviation maintenance workforce development activities.
The legislation encourages local collaboration by requiring that grant applications be jointly submitted by a business or labor organization, school, and government entity.
The House bill is similar to a Senate bill (S. 2506), but the House version includes high schools as educational institutions eligible to participate in a grant application.
“As the trade association representing government-certified repair stations and avionics manufacturers, the Aircraft Electronics Association strongly endorses this legislation to provide a viable pathway for training our next generation of avionics technicians and aviation maintenance technicians,” said AEA President Paula Derks. “There is a severe shortage of skilled technicians in the aviation industry, and forecasts indicate the problem will continue to worsen in the next few years. This legislation will help ensure that the United States remains the world leader in all facets of aviation, and will instigate the creation of thousands of high-paying jobs employing skilled workers in the future.”
“The shortage of qualified maintenance workers touches all aspects of our industry, and we must all work together to find effective solutions,” added National Business Aviation Association President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We hope this important legislation will help by promoting aviation careers and ensuring that companies using business aviation have the technical professionals they need to operate safely and compete globally.”