Aviation’s advocacy groups joined forces recently to opposed House Bill 1947, which would place a cap on flight training benefits for veterans.
A joint letter was sent by the groups to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
“Working as a civilian commercial pilot is a rewarding career. However, it requires thorough, in-depth, and complex training. Without the aid of their promised veterans’ benefits, most veterans can ill afford such training. We believe that as a nation, we have an obligation to meet the needs of veterans. This is especially true when it comes to benefits promised them, including providing financial assistance for achieving their educational goals,” the groups wrote.
This isn’t the first time the legislation has come up in Congress, according to officials with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, one of the groups involved in the opposition effort.
Last year, AOPA and eight other groups opposed similar language to cap benefits, which was ultimately blocked by the Senate.
Without the aid of their promised veterans’ benefits, most veterans can ill afford such training.”
According to the letter, the bill unfairly treats flight training programs differently from other degree programs at public colleges and universities by capping payments. Without sufficient funding, veterans interested in a career in aviation will face significant debt or look into other careers, the aviation advocates say.
In the past, a minority of flight schools have exploited loopholes in the system to artificially increase the cost of training, AOPA officials said. Rather than artificial caps, the solution is to fix the loopholes and provide better oversight, advocates say.
A Boeing forecast predicts a need for 790,000 new pilots over the next two decades around the globe, including more than 200,000 in the United States.
AOPA officials said they and others will continue to educate members of Congress and work against the legislation.
Along with AOPA, officials from the Air Medical Operators Association, Airlines for America, Airports Council International-North America, American Association of Airport Executives, Association of Air Medical Services, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Air Transportation Association, National Association of State Aviation Officials, National Business Aviation Association, Regional Airline Association, and Veteran Air Warriors signed the letter.