WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), co-chair of the Senate General Aviation Caucus, joined a bipartisan group of senators in sending a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) urging them to fully implement two 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.
As the Senators note in their letter, these innovative programs will help develop badly-needed workforce training in the aviation industry, helping the industry to partner with local governments, schools, and labor groups to provide training. In turn, this training will help close the current skills-gap preventing Americans from accessing these good-paying jobs and spur future economic activity.
“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. 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,” the Senators wrote.
They go on to highlight the importance of these two programs, noting, “The grant program for pilot education will support 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 grant program for aviation technicians 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.”
U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) led the letter. In addition to Boozman, it was cosigned by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Hoeven (R-NC), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ed Markey (D-MA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), John Thune (R-SD), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).