There’s a lot of industry discussion these days centered around the growing pilot shortage. Perhaps somewhat less talked about is the similarly increasing scarcity of qualified aviation maintenance personnel. Which, if you think about it, might be even worse. Even the best pilots are really going to struggle to fly broken planes.
In an attempt to make up some ground, a bill to create an aviation maintenance workforce development program was introduced in Congress last Wednesday. The bipartisan bill, which was sponsored by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Richard Bluementhal (D-CT), Jerry Moran (R-KN) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), would provide grants for things like new educational programs that teach technical skills, scholarships and apprenticeships, outreach to students and under-represented populations and career transitions for veterans.
The bill would allocate $5 million a year for the program with individual grants capped at $500,000 each. Grant proposals will be reviewed by a committee to be set up for that purpose. Many aviation groups have already spoken up in support of the program, including AOPA, GAMA and NATA.