In late February, U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced Bill 3360 to the Senate, which would establish a National Center for the Advancement of Aviation (NCAA) where stakeholders could work together to coordinate, promote and support the development of aviation and aerospace within the United States. The bill is currently under review by the Committee on Finance.

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As a federally chartered, not-for-profit entity, the center would foster collaboration between private and governmental organizations to ensure the development and sustainability of the aviation workforce, the conduct of research and development of new aviation materials, products, and procedures, the coordination of the dissemination of grants for the development of aviation and aerospace-oriented high school STEM education curriculum, and to leverage the knowledge of other organizations and federal agencies.

“In the more than 100 years since Wilbur and Orville Wright conducted their historic flights at Kitty Hawk, our nation has seen aviation in the United States grow, powered by the individual passions of pilots, aviators and countless others,” Inhofe said in a statement. “The NCAA will advance a collaborative process to promote aviation in the United States and assist in the development of the next generation of aviation and aerospace workers.”

The NCAA would support aviation and aerospace education efforts and provide resources to aviation curriculum developers so all educators have the tools and training to ensure their success in the classroom. Establishment of the center would help ensure that next generation pilots, aviation maintenance technicians, and other aviation professionals are educated by highly qualified, passionate professionals and are prepared with the knowledge and tools to pursue fulfilling careers in aviation and aerospace.

“As a pilot, I know that investing in aviation-focused education and workforce development programs helps attract and retain the best talent and keeps our nation at the forefront of global aviation innovation,” Duckworth said in a statement.

The center would serve as a “collaborative forum to leverage expertise from all sectors of the aviation and aerospace industry to develop and deploy a workforce of pilots, aerospace engineers, unmanned aircraft system operators, aviation maintenance technicians, or other aviation maintenance professionals needed”. It would empower youth-oriented aviation and aerospace programs and training models to stakeholders to create the next generation of aviation professionals. It would also serve as a forum for symposiums and conferences to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration across the industry and “empower the engagement between and among all engaged stakeholders to pioneer future advancements for the aviation and aerospace community”.

The NCAA would also become a central place for economic data, safety data, and research efforts related to the aviation and aerospace industry, which could give a full perspective on aviation and aerospace information that can be used to improve safety efforts.

In a letter to the lawmakers, more than 130 aviation trade and advocacy groups, commercial airlines, pilot unions, state and airport representatives and other aviation stakeholders showed their support of the bill. Supporters included Women in Aviation International, FedEx Express, National Business Aviation Association, International Air Transport Association, The Boeing Company and much more.

“Sens. Inhofe and Duckworth are proven aviation champions, and their support for this important bill underscores their commitment to ensuring the industry’s future is bright,” said National Business Aviation Association President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We are proud to support this legislation and look forward to doing all we can to ensure its passage.”