Four senators from across the country and the political spectrum introduced legislation Wednesday to help close the skill gap and fill aviation maintenance jobs.
The bill, titled the Aviation Maintenance Workforce Development Pilot Program, would allocate $5 million each year from 2019 to 2020 for grants of up to $500,000 that the FAA could award to "eligible projects to support the education and recruitment of aviation maintenance technical workers and the development of the aviation maintenance industry workforce."
Introduced by senators Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Jerry Moran of Kansas and Maria Cantwell of Washington, the idea would be to incentivize programs to train and educate aviation maintenance technicians.
"The aviation maintenance industry contributes $44 billion to our economy, but is struggling from a severe shortage of skilled workers," said Sen. Moran. "Our legislation would encourage collaboration between public and private entities to issue grants to support technical education and career development on a local level. Our aviation industry is only as strong as its workforce — incentivizing people across America to pursue technical careers in this field will help fill good-paying jobs."
Some in the aviation industry have responded.
"If there's one issue keeping our members awake at night, it's where to find the next generation of technical talent," said Christian A. Klein, EVP of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association. "This bill is an important step in the right direction."
David Seymour, an American Airlines senior VP said, "Developing an aviation maintenance workforce pilot program is essential to maintaining a pipeline of well-trained and knowledgeable aviation maintenance technicians who can sustain this vital work for our industry."