News Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) introduced bipartisan legislation to address the nationwide shortage of airplane pilots, mechanics and other positions in our aviation workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation would also work to strengthen the pipeline of pilots serving regional airports, including the five airports across Kansas participating in the Essential Air Service program.

The Aviation Workforce Development Enhancement Act would help expand the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s current Aviation Workforce Development Grant program by increasing annual funding for pilot development and mechanic development grants, as well as provide grant funding for aviation manufacturing workforce development. This legislation will work to make certain the pipeline of talent within the aviation industry will remain strong for years to come.

“The state of Kansas is renowned for its aviation industry, but it’s only as strong as our workforce,” said Sen. Moran. “Further investment into these important programs and expanding the eligibility to the aviation manufacturing sector will work to strengthen the talent pipeline and prevent disruptions within this important industry.”

“As a pilot, I know that investing in aviation-focused workforce development programs helps attract and retain the best talent and keeps our nation at the forefront of global aviation innovation,” said Sen. Duckworth. “With our nation’s aviation workforce hard hit by the pandemic, I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Moran to help grow the pipeline of future pilots, mechanics and manufacturing workers to help the aviation and aerospace industries meet the demands and challenges of tomorrow.”

According CNBC, citing an estimate from consulting firm Oliver Wyman, the aviation industry is experiencing a shortage of as many as 8,000 pilots, approximately 11 percent of the total workforce. The same estimate suggested a shortage of 30,000 pilots by 2025. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, in 2020, FAA issued 30 percent fewer airplane mechanic certificates than the agency did in 2019. That same report found new certificates increased in 2021, but demand for airplane mechanics still outstripped supply. Additionally, according to a 2020 GAO study, half of FAA certified mechanics and repair technicians as of 2018 were over age 50.

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