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Senators Encourage Implementation of Aviation Workforce Grants

More than 25 U.S. Senators have urged both the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation to move forward and implement two aviation workforce grant programs that were authorized in the most recent FAA Reauthorization bill.

In letters to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and to FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson, the 28 Senators made it clear that maintaining the programs that invest in and expanding the development of the next generation of aircraft pilots and maintenance technicians is vital.

“Given the broad, bipartisan support for the grant programs on Capitol Hill, and among schools, industry, and labor, we are disappointed that they are not yet operating,” the legislators wrote. “Understanding that establishing a workforce grant program is new to the Federal Aviation Administration, we urge you to initiate them before the end of the current fiscal year” (Sept. 30, 2020).

The grant program for pilot education would support creation and delivery of curriculum designed to provide high school students with meaningful science, technology, engineering, math, and aviation education.  The aviation technicians’ grant program addresses maintenance industry skills gap by encouraging and facilitating collaboration between schools, government, labor, and industry to recruit and train technical talent that America’s aerospace sector will require to keep the nation’s aircraft operating safely and efficiently.

“Due in particular to the increased pace of aviation sector retirements in recent months, when industry business conditions return to pre-pandemic levels, the need for pilots and technicians will be more acute than before,” the lawmakers concluded. “By awarding grants now to encourage innovation in training and recruitment, the federal government can have a positive and lasting impact on the aviation workforce, as intended by Congress.”