Kelly, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Aviation Workforce Development 

Today, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly and U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Thune (R-SD), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Aviation Workforce Development Act. This bipartisan legislation would address aviation workforce shortages by boosting resources to help recruit and train pilots, aviation manufacturing workers, and mechanics. 

“Arizona’s aviation industry is critical to our economy,” said Senator Kelly. “We’ve got to get more folks the skills they need to land good-paying jobs in these fields. We’ve worked together on this bipartisan legislation to increase training for pilots, mechanics, and manufacturers to meet the current and future needs of our aviation workforce.” –  

“Our aviation workforce plays an essential role in keeping our country and our economy moving. We need to make it easier for Americans to pursue a career in this critical field,” said Senator Klobuchar. “By increasing resources for and expanding access to training programs for aviation manufacturers, mechanics, and pilots, this legislation will help address shortages and strengthen our aviation workforce.”  

“Kansas is renowned for its aviation industry, but it’s only as strong as our workforce,” said Senator Moran. “As this industry continues to evolve, it is critical that we find ways to develop a trained workforce to fill these jobs. Further investment into the FAA development grant programs and expanding eligibility to include the aviation manufacturing sector will strengthen the talent pipeline and prevent disruptions within the aviation industry.” 

“As a pilot, I know that investing in aviation-focused workforce development programs helps attract and retain the best talent and keeps our nation at the forefront of global aviation innovation,” said Senator Duckworth. “With our nation’s aviation workforce hard hit by the pandemic, I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my colleagues to help grow the pipeline of future pilots, mechanics and manufacturing workers to help the aviation and aerospace industries meet the demands and challenges of tomorrow.” 

“Aviation workforce challenges continue to present a long-term threat to the stability of this crucial industry,” said Senator Thune. “Providing new training pathways to help produce highly qualified aviation maintenance workers is a sensible way to overcome challenges and expand the nation’s aviation workforce.” 

“Whether you know it or not, we are all feeling the strain of the workforce shortage affecting our aviation industry, through maintenance backlogs, delayed and cancelled flights, and more,” said Senator Warnock. “Aircraft pilots, flight engineers, mechanics, technicians, and airport workers help keep our communities connected and our economy strong. Now is the time to act to revitalize the industry, and support a modern and representative workforce, by giving our education system new resources and tools to train students from all zip codes to work in the aviation industry. I’m glad this bill includes provisions from my forthcoming legislation that will further expand and grow our aviation workforce by strengthening our aviation education pipelines, and I’m proud to be fighting with a bipartisan cohort of champions, including Senator Klobuchar, to strengthen investments that will develop our aviation workforce.” 

The Aviation Workforce Development Act would provide grants for eligible projects to support the education and recruitment of pilots, aviation maintenance workers, as well as the aviation manufacturing workforce of the future. Specifically, this bill would:  

  • Expand the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s current Aviation Workforce Development Grant program by increasing annual funding for pilot and mechanic training grants; 
  • Create a new grant to fund aviation manufacturing workforce development;  
  • Raise the maximum grant award for each program to $1 million; 
  • Direct the FAA to establish a national strategic plan for addressing projected shortages of aviation workers in the aviation industry; and 
  • Expand grant eligibility to projects that support the education and recruitment of aviation manufacturing technical workers and aviation manufacturing workforce development.