On March 13, 2019, the aviation maintenance industry honored U.S. Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) for addressing the chronic shortage of technicians threatening to undermine the growth and vitality of America’s aerospace sector.
Last year, Graves and Lipinski were lead sponsors of H.R. 5701, which created a new federal grant program to help recruit and educate aviation technicians. The legislation was ultimately enacted as Sec. 625 in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization law signed by President Trump in October 2018.
In presenting the Aeronautical Repair Station Association’s 2019 Legislative Leadership Award, the association’s President David Latimer, senior vice president of regulatory compliance for HAECO Americas, stated that the program demonstrates how good people collaborate to address pressing needs regardless of party affiliation and despite any evidence of ideological difference – a fact ARSA’s team observed in its industry-wide coalition building supporting the grant program.
ARSA members have identified the technician shortage as one of the top strategic challenges facing the aviation maintenance industry. The new program is designed to facilitate collaboration among businesses, labor organizations, schools and government to address the challenge. In a recent letter to Transportation Secretary Elain Chao and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, 40 aviation organizations called on the administration to request full funding for the technician program and a related pilot education program in the president’s proposed FY 2020 budget.
The award presentation took place in conjunction with ARSA’s Legislative Day – a component of the association’s Annual Conference. More than four dozen executives from leading aviation maintenance companies met with lawmakers to urge Congress to appropriate the funds needed for the Department of Transportation to initiate the grant program.