ARSA RSS Feed ARSA LinkedIn
Contact Us Online Portal

ARSA Workforce Legislation Action Center

The U.S. aviation industry is facing a technician shortage of crisis proportions. ARSA is working with industry and congressional allies to tackle the problem. As part of this effort, ARSA led a coalition that helped create a new aviation maintenance workforce grant program as part of the 2018 FAA reauthorization law. This page provides more information about the grant program and resources to help you help ARSA make sure it’s successful.

What’s the Problem?

An analysis by Boeing suggests that airlines in North America will need 189,000 new technicians over the next two decades. The consulting firm Oliver Wyman has forecast that demand for aviation maintenance technicians will outstrip supply by 2022. More than 80 percent of respondents to ARSA’s 2018 member survey reported difficulty finding qualified technicians and more than half of the responding companies have unfilled positions. 

If the technician shortage persists, it will undermine the efficiency of the U.S. aviation system and make it more difficult for U.S. companies to capitalize on opportunities in the growing global aerospace market.

Recognizing the problem, aviation industry leaders and a bipartisan group of lawmakers decided to act. Legislation to create an aviation maintenance workforce grant program was introduced in the Senate (S. 2506) on March 7, 2018 by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Maria Cantwell (R-Wash.) and in the House (H.R. 5701) on May 8, 2018 by Representatives Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.). It was endorsed by more than 30 leading industry organizations representing all segments of the industry, including maintainers, airlines, general aviation, manufacturers, and labor, as well as by the National League of Cities. 

Note: While ARSA’s efforts focus explicitly on the aviation maintenance workforce, the association supports broader work to update federal investment in career technical education (CTE) nationwide. While the maintenance community should focus on its own policy needs, it is worthwhile to encourage comprehensive reform for the entire system. To learn more, visit: arsa.org/technical-workforce-development.

What Are the Details of the Aviation Maintenance Workforce Grant Program

Sec. 625 of the 2018 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization law (Public Law No: 115-254) created a new Department of Transportation-(DOT) administered grant program to support a wide variety of aviation maintenance workforce development recruitment and training activities. Grants may be used to:

  • Establish new educational programs that teach technical skills used in aviation maintenance, including purchasing equipment, or to improve existing such programs;
  • Establish scholarships or apprenticeships for individuals pursuing employment in the aviation maintenance industry;
  • Support outreach about careers in the aviation maintenance industry to primary, secondary, and post-secondary school students; or to communities underrepresented in the industry;
  • Support educational opportunities related to aviation maintenance in economically disadvantaged geographic areas;
  • Support transition to careers in aviation maintenance, including for members of the Armed Forces; or
  • Otherwise enhance aviation maintenance technical education or the aviation maintenance industry workforce.

The program is authorized at $5 million for five years starting in 2019 and can provide grants of up to $500,000. The goal of the program is to incentivize collaboration between key stakeholders and grant applications must be jointly submitted by business or union, school and state or local governmental entity.

While getting the program authorized is major victory for our coalition our work is far from complete. The next step is to work with DOT to initiate the program and convince Congress to appropriate the money necessary to provide the grants. Assuming that our advocacy is successful, grants could be disbursed by late 2019.

If you’re interested in applying for a grant, keep watching this page for more information. You should also begin having conversations with other stakeholders in your community to lay the foundation for a joint application and think creatively about you could use the federal money. You should also 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 (see below).

What Can You Do to Help?

ARSA is leading a coalition to work with DOT to initiate the program and get it funded by Congress. You can help that effort by thanking the members of Congress who played a leadership role in getting the program authorized. Here’s how:

(1) Identify your representative and senators by going to https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members

(2) Determine whether your representative and senators signed on the bill.

(3) Click here to download ARSA’s Excel file with contact information for the staff members in each congressional office responsible for aviation and education policy issues.

  • The Excel file has two sheets, one for the Senate and one for the House (click the tab on the bottom left of the screen to move between sheets).
  • To find the name and contact information for the transportation and education staffers in your representative and senators congressional offices, simply find the name elected official’s name in “Column F” of each sheet.

(4) Open a new email.

(5) Copy and paste the name of the appropriate House or Senate staffer into the “to” line of the email.

(6) Chose one of the following four emails and copy it into the body of the email:

Click Here for a Message to Members of the House of Representatives

In the subject line of the email, write:

Thank You for Cosponsoring the Aviation Maintenance Workforce Bill (H.R. 5701)

In the email body, write:

Dear STAFFFIRSTNAME:

I’m writing to thank Rep. REPRESENTATIVELASTNAME for co-sponsoring H.R. 5701, a bipartisan bill that addresses a major threat to the U.S. aviation sector: the skilled technical worker shortage.

I’m extremely pleased that H.R. 5701 was enacted into law as part of the FAA reauthorization bill (H.R. 302) and am very grateful for the leadership role that Rep. REPRESENTATIVELASTNAME played in getting the job done.  

If the technician shortage persists, it will undermine the efficiency of the U.S. aviation system and make it more difficult for U.S. companies to capitalize on opportunities in the growing global aerospace market.

I sincerely appreciate your leadership in addressing this issue. Now that the grant program is law I hope your office will encourage the Department of Transportation to quickly initiate it and that you will work to ensure Congress appropriates the full $5 million authorized for the program.

Thank you again. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME
YOUR TITLE
YOUR COMPANY
YOUR ADDRESS
YOUR PHONE NUMBER

Click Here for a Message to Members of the Senate

In the subject line of the email, write:

Thank You for Cosponsoring the Aviation Maintenance Workforce Bill (S. 2506)

In the email body, write:

Dear STAFFFIRSTNAME:

I’m writing to thank Sen. SENATORLASTNAME for co-sponsoring S.2506, a bipartisan bill that addresses a major threat to the U.S. aviation sector: the skilled technical worker shortage.

I’m extremely pleased that S. 2506 was enacted into law as part of the FAA reauthorization bill (H.R. 302) and am very grateful for the leadership role that Sen. SENATORLASTNAME played in getting the job done.  

If the technician shortage persists, it will undermine the efficiency of the U.S. aviation system and make it more difficult for U.S. companies to capitalize on opportunities in the growing global aerospace market.

I sincerely appreciate your leadership in addressing this issue. Now that the grant program is law I hope your office will encourage the Department of Transportation to quickly initiate it and that you will work to ensure Congress appropriates the full $5 million authorized for the program.

Thank you again. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME
YOUR TITLE
YOUR COMPANY
YOUR ADDRESS
YOUR PHONE NUMBER

Who Should You Contact for More Information About This Issue?

If you have questions about the grant program or contacting Congress, please contact ARSA Executive Vice President Christian Klein at christian.klein@arsa.org or 703.599.0164.

ARSA