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Using FAA Bill to Help Maintenance Workforce

In a letter to leaders of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, 29 organizations urged that legislation to create a new aviation maintenance workforce development program be included the Senate’s FAA reauthorization package.

The workforce bill, S. 2506, was introduced in March by a bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.). It would create a new grant program administered by the FAA to attract and train the next generation of aviation technical workers. Twenty-one senators have cosponsored S. 2506. A parallel House bill (H.R. 5701) introduced by Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), has 16 cosponsors.

The July 20 letter was coordinated by ARSA and signed by 28 allied organizations representing maintainers, airlines, manufacturers, business and general aviation, schools, labor and communities with significant aviation sectors. According to responses to the association’s 2018 member survey, difficulty finding technical talent is one of the biggest strategic threats facing the maintenance industry.

FAA legislation is expected on the Senate floor in the coming weeks and ARSA and its allies are mounting a full court press to get S. 2506 into the bill.

Get Involved – Tell Your Elected Officials to Support the Aviation Maintenance Workforce Grant Program

ARSA Workforce Legislation Action Center

More on ARSA-supported workforce grant legislation...

5/22/18 - Tell Congress to Support Maintenance Workforce Bill

May 22, 2018

Members of the aviation maintenance community need to join ARSA’s aggressive effort to include the association’s workforce development legislation in the FAA reauthorization process. The bill would create a new grant program to develop skills demanded by repair stations. So far, 20 national interest groups and labor unions have joined the effort and momentum is building on Capitol Hill (see below for updates on the House and Senate versions of the bill).

Aviation businesses can (and should) help add more cosponsors in the House and Senate and help demonstrate support for the proposal to congressional leadership. The association action webpage (click here) makes it easy to send notes to elected officials encouraging them to cosponsor the bill (or to thank them if they already have).

5/9/18 - Bipartisan House Bill Takes Aim at Aviation Maintenance Skills Gap

May 9, 2018

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation on May 8 to address one of the most pressing challenges facing the U.S. aviation industry: the chronic technician shortage.

The bill sponsored by Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) is the House companion to Senate legislation introduced in March. It creates a new program administered by the FAA to provide grants of up to $500,000 to support aviation maintenance workforce development activities. The legislation incentivizes local collaboration by requiring that grant applications be jointly submitted by a business or labor organization, school and governmental entity.

Analysis by Boeing suggests that 118,000 new technicians will be needed in North America over the next two decades. The consulting firm Oliver Wyman has forecast that demand for aviation maintenance technicians will outstrip supply by 2022.

The results of ARSA’s 2018 member survey further underscore the need for the legislation: More than 80 percent of respondents reported difficulty finding qualified technicians and more than half of responding companies have unfilled positions. As a result, companies say they are taking longer to complete work for customers, choosing not to add new technical capabilities and that in some cases turning down new business. ARSA estimates its members will forego as much $642.5 million in revenue this year if the projected 2,500 vacant positions at member companies remain unfilled.

Get Involved – Tell Your Elected Officials to Support the Aviation Maintenance Workforce Grant Program

The aviation workforce legislation has broad support from business and labor. A May 8 letter coordinated by ARSA in support of the House bill was signed by 19 other leading organizations, including the Aerospace Industries Association, the Aerospace Maintenance Council, the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Airlines for America, the Aviation Suppliers Association, the Aviation Technician Education Council, the Cargo Airline Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, the Modification and Replacement Parts Association, the National Air Carrier Association, the National Air Transportation Association, the National Association of State Aviation Officials, the National Business Aviation Association, the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association, the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association and the Regional Airline Association. The National League of Cities has also voiced its support for the proposal and is a member of the ARSA-led coalition.

“The skills gap in the aviation maintenance industry is reaching crisis proportions,” ARSA Executive Vice President Christian Klein said. “It threatens to undermine both the efficiency of our aviation system and the ability of U.S. aerospace companies to seize opportunities in the growing global marketplace.”

“We sincerely appreciate Representatives Graves, Lipinski, Mullin and Lawrence taking the lead on this important issue and look forward to working with them and our industry allies to enact their bill into law.”

3/7/18 - ARSA-Supported Bill Takes Aim at Aviation Maintenance Skills Gap in Senate

March 7, 2018

Legislation introduced on March 7 by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators aims to address a major threat to the long-term health of the U.S. aviation maintenance sector: the persistent technician shortage.

The bill authored by Senators James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) would establish a new pilot program to train maintenance professionals, help veterans transition to civilian careers and recruit new technicians. Grants of up to $500,000 per year would be available to business or unions, schools and governmental entities that partner to pursue creative solutions to one of the aviation community’s most pressing strategic challenges.

“We’re extremely grateful that Senators Inhofe, Blumenthal, Cantwell and Moran have taken up this cause,” Christian A. Klein, ARSA executive vice president, said.

“If there’s one issue keeping ARSA’s members awake at night, it’s where to find the next generation of technical talent. This bill is an important step in the right direction. It will incentivize local cooperation to develop new aerospace professionals and help veterans and others transition to careers in this high-tech, growing industry,” Klein said.

The aviation maintenance industry employs more than 275,000 American workers, contributes $44 billion to the U.S. economy and helps ensure the safety of civil aircraft operating world-wide. The industry’s global footprint is expected to grow from around $77 billion to more than $114 billion over the next decade.

However, a shortage of technical workers could make it difficult for U.S. firms to capitalize on those opportunities. Oliver Wyman’s CAVOK Division, a leading aviation consulting firm, projects that demand for technicians will outstrip supply beginning in 2022. Data from ARSA suggests that the impact is already being felt: More than 80 percent of respondents to ARSA’s 2018 member survey report difficulty finding qualified technicians and more than two thirds of responding companies have unfilled positions. As a result, companies say it is taking longer to complete work for customers, that their companies are not adding new technical capabilities and in some cases are turning down new business.

“Our aviation industry needs skilled workers and the aviation maintenance industry provides high-paying, high-skilled jobs across the country,” Sen. Inhofe said. “Aviation is an economic multiplier, connecting local communities and cities in support of commercial activity and generating tourism revenue. We can’t afford to let these skilled jobs go unfilled. This bill will make it possible to close the skills gap by incentivizing businesses, labor groups, educational institutions and local governments to develop innovative ways to recruit and educate the next generation of America’s aviation workforce. I applaud the efforts of [ARSA] and their member companies like AAR and NORDAM for their continued advocacy for aviation maintenance issues before Congress.”

Given the scale of the threat to the industry, 17 leading aviation industry organizations, representing all segments of the aviation industry joined a letter coordinated by ARSA in support of the bill and delivered to the sponsoring senators on March 5.

“The U.S. aviation industry is a diamond in the crown of our economy. Working together, manufacturers, operators, maintainers, labor organizations, schools and workers have built an industry that provides unprecedented mobility for people and goods. Your legislation will help ensure our member organizations have the technical professionals they need to grow, compete globally, and, most importantly, continue to ensure the safety of civil aviation aircraft,” the organizations said.

ARSA is now working with its members and allied organizations to build support for the legislation and get it enacted this year, likely as part of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.

In addition to ARSA, the following industry organizations signed on to the March 5 support letter:

Aerospace Industries Association
Aerospace Maintenance Council
Aircraft Electronics Association
Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Airlines for America
Aviation Suppliers Association
Aviation Technician Education Council
Cargo Airline Association
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
Helicopter Association International
Modification and Replacement Parts Association
National Air Carrier Association
National Air Transportation Association
Professional Aviation Maintenance Association
Regional Airline Association

To review the bill, click here.


To see ARSA’s other updates related to technical workforce development, click here.



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