Legislation to establish an aviation maintenance workforce grant program took another step forward on May 8, as a group of House representatives introduced the next iteration of the Senate bill.
The House bill, as in the Senate version introduced in March by Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), would create a program that would provide grants of up to $500,000 to support aviation maintenance workforce development.
To qualify for the funding, grants must be jointly submitted by a business or labor organization, school or government entity. The intent of that provision is to have local entities forge partnerships that will directly apply to their communities, which in turn would encourage people in these areas to train for aviation maintenance careers.
The House bill, sponsored by Representatives Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), mirrors the Senate version but contains one difference: high schools, in addition to post-secondary institutions, would be eligible to participate in this program.
Christian Klein, the Aeronautical Repair Station Association’s executive vice president, says this addition improves the legislation and should not create any more opposition to it.
This aviation maintenance workforce development legislation has strong support from a range of associations—19 in total—as well as on the Hill.
Klein says Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is the eighth and latest senator to have joined Senator Inhofe in sponsoring the bill.
To keep the bill moving forward, ARSA is trying to get find as many sponsors and co-sponsors in both the Senate and House as possible.
The bill could be attached as an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization Bill, which just secured a spot on the Senate’s calendar in June, says Klein.
If Congress passes the bill, it would authorize the FAA to establish and administer the program, but not to fund it. There is a chance appropriations could quickly follow—but even if the funding piece is delayed, FAA could still set up the workforce program and have it ready to go, so it could start once funding is secured.
Klein thinks the “program could be up and running next year.”