As the congressional session is in its final months, lawmakers are signaling that they remain concerned about future workforce challenges with the introduction of the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation (NCAA) Act of 2020. Introduced last week by House aviation subcommittee chairman Rick Larsen (D-Washington) along with subcommittee members André Carson (D-Indiana) and Don Young (R-Alaska), the bipartisan bill, H.R.8532, is the House companion to similar legislation introduced in the Senate earlier this year by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), who are both pilots.
H.R.8532 calls for the establishment of an independent center that would collaborate with the various sectors of aviation to address workforce challenges and facilitate the development and of pilots, aerospace engineers, unmanned aircraft systems operators, and maintenance technicians, among others.
The center would leverage industry knowledge and expertise to offer resources for curriculum developers. It also would compile economic and safety data research, help expand apprenticeship opportunities, and offer transition assistance for military veterans.
The legislation immediately received strong industry backing with more than 130 organizations offering support. “As an industry, we must ensure that we are prepared to meet the demands for highly qualified professionals in all sectors of general, commercial, and military aviation—including pilots, mechanics, and technicians,” said AOPA president Mark Baker. “All are needed and vital to ensure the U.S. aviation industry remains competitive and prepared for the future.”
Key to the legislation, Carson said, is breaking down silos across the various aviation segments to ensure collaboration on workforce. “Too often in the past, innovation and lessons learned in various aviation sectors have not been shared in a collaborative or timely manner, especially in the face of rapid developments in new technology,” he said.
“A National Center for the Advancement of Aviation would foster greater collaboration and technological innovation in U.S. airspace, help improve aviation safety, boost U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace, and prepare the next generation workforce to meet the demands of the 21st-century aviation economy,” added Larsen.