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Grant Funding in the Works, Needs Help

On Sept. 19, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (T-HUD) appropriations bill. It included a total of $5 million in funding for both the technician and related pilot education grant programs authorized in last year’s FAA law – half of the total authorized level. In June, the House version included full funding for both programs ($10 million total).

The fact that there’s money in both bills significantly increases the likelihood that the program will be funded for FY 2020.  The big question is whether Congress will provide the full amount or something less.  Use the information on this page and the guidance/resources on the association’s related action center (linked below) to help keep pressure on to turn the grant programs into a fully-funded reality.

ARSA Workforce Legislation Action Center

More on ARSA-supported workforce grant legislation...

4/6/2019 - FAA 'Committed' to Workforce Program but Needs Encouragement

April 16, 2019

On April 11, ARSA received the FAA’s response to the Feb. 5 coalition letter regarding funding for the new aviation workforce development grant programs created by Sec. 625 of last year’s FAA reauthorization law. The original letter had been coordinated by the association and sent to both Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

Annie Andrews, the assistant FAA administrator for human resource management, wrote in her response that “The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the FAA are committed to implementing the provisions of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-254) focused on addressing the aviation workforce shortages.” The letter also said, “The U.S. DOT and FAA are fully supportive of the provisions outlined in Section 625 of P.L.115-254” and that FAA looks forward “to working with the aviation industry and educational institutions to meet the growing demand for a well-trained aviation workforce.”

However, Andrews also wrote that, “We [the FAA] recognize that the current FAA budget does not include funding for the initiation of the aviation workforce development programs. We have committed to working with the DOT and the Office of Management and Budget to request funding and incorporate the grant programs into the FAA FY2021 work plan and budget.” In other words, the FAA doesn’t plan to initiate the programs until FY 2021 at the earliest.”

ARSA and its allies are committed to getting funding for the grant programs included in the FY 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies appropriations bills so the FAA can start making grants in FY 2020. It’s up to us to make initiation of the grant programs a near-term priority for Congress and the FAA.

In that regard, our champions in the House and Senate have coordinated bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letters to the appropriators requesting full funding. If your facility is in the district of a member of the House or Senate appropriations committees (click the links to review each committees’ members), now is the time to engage. All the information you need to send a quick note to your congressional representatives about the grant program is in the Workforce Legislative Action Center found at:

If you have questions or comments, please contact ARSA Executive Vice President Christian Klein at

To read the FAA’s response, which includes the original industry letter, click here.

4/9/19 - Call To Action – Appropriating Workforce Grant Money

April 9, 2019

ARSA’s signature legislative achievement of 2018 was getting language into the FAA bill creating a new $5 million per year grant program to support maintenance workforce development (see below for full updates). With the program authorized, the top priority is getting money appropriated.

More than 50 members of Congress have already signed on to letters being coordinated by Reps. Graves and Lipinski and Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to House and Senate appropriations leaders in support of funding. The coalition ARSA built last year around the program has also grown to more than 40 organizations, including several interested in a similar program for pilot education that was also included in the FAA bill.

ARSA members, allies and supporters must get active in this effort, particularly in the Senate. Appropriations requests must be submitted immediately. Here’s how:

(1) Go to ARSA’s Workforce Legislative Action Center at

(2) Find the section called “What Can You Do to Help?” (You can read the background and issue updates if you’d like.)

(3) Follow the steps and use the basic message template provided on the page (editing as you see fit). Be sure to report your efforts back to ARSA.

2/6/19 - Aviation Industry Urges Full Funding for New Workforce Programs

February 6, 2019

More than three dozen organizations representing a cross section of the aviation industry are urging the Trump administration to make aerospace workforce development a priority in the president’s 2020 budget.

In a letter sent to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on Feb. 5, the coalition of 40 associations and unions urged the administration to seek full funding for the aviation technician and pilot recruitment and education programs created by Sec. 625 of last year’s Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization law.

The coalition – which includes organizations representing airlines, maintainers, manufacturers, general aviation, airports, mechanics, pilots and communities with prominent aviation sectors – cited numerous studies pointing to a severe shortage of pilots and aviation technical workers to support maintenance. Boeing, for example, projects that in North America alone, 206,000 new pilots and 189,000 new technicians will be needed over the next two decades. The shortage of pilots and technicians threatens to undermine the growth and competitiveness of one of the most important sectors of the U.S. economy, the letter said.

The organizations are asking the administration to request Congress appropriate the full $5 million authorized for each of the two new grant programs, which are designed to facilitate collaboration between schools, state and local government entities, businesses and labor organizations to attract and educate technicians and pilots.

Under the new law, aviation technical workforce grants could be used for scholarships, apprenticeships, establishing new training programs, purchasing equipment for schools and supporting career transition for members of the armed forces. The new grant program for pilot education would support the creation and delivery of curriculum designed to provide high school students with meaningful science, technology, engineering, math and aviation education.

To read the complete letter, click here. It was coordinated by ARSA and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and signed by the following additional organizations:

Aerospace Industries Association
Aerospace Maintenance Council
Aircraft Electronics Association
Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association
Airlines for America
Air Medical Operators Association
Airports Council International – North America
Allied Pilots Association
American Association of Airport Executives
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
Aviation Council of Pennsylvania
Aviation Suppliers Association
Aviation Technician Education Council
Cargo Airline Association
Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations
Experimental Aircraft Association
Flight School Association of North America
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
Greater Miami Aviation Association
Helicopter Association International
International Air Transport Association
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
International Council of Air Shows
Modification and Replacement Parts Association
National Agricultural Aviation Association
National Air Carrier Association
National Air Transportation Association
National Association of State Aviation Officials
National Business Aviation Association
National League of Cities
NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots
Professional Aviation Maintenance Association
Recreational Aviation Foundation
Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association
Regional Airline Association
South Florida Aviation Maintenance Council
Veterans Airlift Command
Westchester Aircraft Maintenance Association

10/22/18 - Move DOT and Congress to AMT Grant Program Action

October 22, 2018

ARSA, its members and allies successfully lobbied for an “historic victory” through this year’s FAA reauthorization process. That victory included the authorization of a five-year pilot program that will provide annual grants of up to $500,000 to business or unions, schools and governmental entities that partner to pursue creative ways to recruit and retain new aviation maintenance technicians.

The policy work is far from complete. The Department of Transportation must now initiate the program and Congress must appropriate the money necessary to provide the grants, which could be available by the end of 2019 if industry moves quickly to encourage action.

The association is already continuing its leadership of aviation-industry stakeholders to keep the process moving. To support the effort, ARSA members should take action now in order to keep DOT and Congress on track and be ready to take advantage of grant money once its available:

(1) Begin having conversations with other community stakeholders to lay the foundation for a joint application, thinking creatively about ways to could use the federal money.

(2) Contact the members of Congress who supported the program to thank them and urge them to work with DOT to initiate the program and with their colleagues in Congress to appropriate the necessary funds.

For resources to help – ARSA has done the legwork already – visit the Workforce Legislation Action Center (linked below). Be sure to bookmark this page, as it will be used to share current information and provide further instructions for industry action as this grassroots advocacy effort develops.

9/24/18 - AMT Grant Program Makes it into FAA Bill

September 24, 2018

On Sept. 22, leadership of the Senate Commerce and House Transportation & Infrastructure Committees released the “final” version of the pre-negotiated FAA reauthorization bill. In a message to association members, Christian A. Klein, ARSA executive vice president and the association’s chief lobbyist, hailed the legislation as “a big win for ARSA and the aviation maintenance community.”

Central to that “big win” was the successful inclusion of the association-supported AMT grant program. To learn about the effort to get the program included in the bill and gather basic information about how it will be structured, review the updates below.

For a complete update on the FAA bill, visit

7/24/18 - Using FAA Bill to Help Maintenance Workforce

July 24, 2018

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

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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