Bipartisan legislation backed by a host of aviation organizations including the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on October 6 to address challenges in the aviation and aerospace industries.
The National Center for the Advancement of Aviation (NCAA) Act of 2020, H.R.8532, would create an independent center to facilitate collaboration among commercial, general, and military aviation sectors to address the mounting workforce challenges facing the industry.
“NASAO is pleased to join the rest of the aviation
community in urging Congress to create the National Center for the Advancement
of Aviation (NCAA),” noted NASAO President and CEO, Greg Pecoraro. “At this
critical moment for our economy and the aviation industry, emerging
technologies are joining more traditional aircraft to create exciting new
jobs and opportunities. The nation will need a workforce prepared to take
advantage of these opportunities to ensure the United States remains the world
leader in aviation and aerospace.”
The NCAA would help develop and deploy a workforce of pilots, aerospace engineers, unmanned aircraft systems operators, aviation maintenance technicians, and others. The center would provide resources to curriculum developers working to integrate science, technology, engineering, and math, leveraging knowledge and expertise among industry sectors. The center would also serve as a central repository for economic and safety data research. In addition, the NCAA would enable greater opportunities for apprenticeships, and help military veterans and others transition to well-paying technical jobs in the aviation industry.
H.R.8532 was introduced in the House by Reps. André Carson (D-Ind.), Don Young (R-Alaska), and House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen (D-Wash.). Carson and Young also serve on the Aviation Subcommittee.
An identical, bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this year by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), both pilots. The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.).
“AOPA is proud to join the aviation and aerospace industries in support of this legislation,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “As an industry, we must ensure that we are prepared to meet the demands for highly qualified professionals in all sectors of general, commercial, and military aviation—including pilots, mechanics, and technicians. All are needed and vital to ensure the U.S. aviation industry remains competitive and prepared for the future.”
“I am honored to join my colleagues in introducing this common-sense, yet bold piece of legislation,” Carson said. “Indiana is known as the crossroads of America. And thanks to our world-class airports, that nickname applies to our state’s skyways, as well. We need to keep growing and improving this sector, but obstacles persist. Too often in the past, innovation and lessons learned in various aviation sectors have not been shared in a collaborative or timely manner, especially in the face of rapid developments in new technology. Our bill helps break down silos across commercial aviation, general aviation and military aviation sectors that will not only improve safety and best practices, but also expand opportunities for those interested in the aviation workforce—the young and not so young, from those just starting out, to those with experience who want to move into other types of aviation work. I urge all of my congressional colleagues to support this bill, so we can ensure this industry creates opportunities and sparks passions for years to come.”
Young added: “Alaska’s geography is incredibly unique. Because of this, aviation has become a central part of our state’s culture and transportation needs. The need for pilots in our state will continue to grow, and if Alaska’s aviation sector is to succeed, we must ensure that the next generation of aviators, mechanics, and other professionals have the training and support necessary to succeed. As a pilot myself, I am proud to introduce this crucial legislation alongside Representatives André Carson and Rick Larsen. Our bill takes important steps to promote aerospace education, develop our next generation aviation workforce, and improve the safety of our skies. This legislation is urgently needed, and I will continue working to get it across the finish line so that the dreams of Alaska’s future pilots can take flight.”
“In Washington state and across the country, aviation and aerospace mean jobs,” said Larsen. “A National Center for the Advancement of Aviation would foster greater collaboration and technological innovation in U.S. airspace, help improve aviation safety, boost U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace, and prepare the next generation workforce to meet the demands of the 21st century aviation economy. As Chair of the House Aviation Subcommittee, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure the future of aviation remains bright.”
Even as the airlines continue to struggle in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commercial aviation industry still faces a long-term shortage of qualified professionals, encompassing pilots, technicians, and maintenance professionals.
More than 130 organizations, including the National Association of State Aviation Officials, support the legislation.