Following Bipartisan Letter, FAA Expands Aviation Workforce Training Programs Championed by Cantwell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) move to implement two new aviation workforce grant programs, including one she co-authored and introduced to help close the aviation maintenance skills gap and fill technical aviation jobs. The FAA’s announcement comes after Senator Cantwell, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, joined Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and 24 of their Senate colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter last week urging the administration to move forward with implementing the two programs, which were authorized in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Bill.

“As we continue to grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s vital we continue to support skilling and training opportunities for our aviation workforce,” said Senator Cantwell. I’m proud to have helped lead the creation of this program, which will help train Washingtonians to fill these good-paying jobs.”

Section 625 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 authorized two aviation workforce grant programs to facilitate the development of the next generation of aircraft pilots and maintenance technicians. Cantwell co-authored and introduced legislation to create the grant program for aviation technicians, one of the two authorized programs, which will address the well-documented maintenance industry skills gap by encouraging and facilitating collaboration between schools, government, labor and industry to recruit and train the technical talent America’s aerospace sector will require to support the nation’s aviation industry. In Washington state, technical schools including Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood, Edmonds College, Everett Community College, Renton Technical College, South Seattle College, and Spokane Community College are among those that could benefit from the program.

The other grant program will focus on pilot education, supporting the creation and delivery of curriculum designed to provide high school students with meaningful science, technology, engineering, math and aviation education and encouraging America’s youth to become the next generation of pilots. Senator Cantwell has led requests for appropriations funding for these grant programs every year since the programs were first created.

Congress fully funded both programs for Fiscal Year 2020, but until the FAA’s announcement earlier this week, the aviation workforce grant programs still had not been implemented. Both programs are supported by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).