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Aviation groups oppose bill limiting flight training for veterans

AOPA and six other general aviation groups sent a joint letter to House leaders opposing legislation that would make it harder for veterans to pursue aviation careers.

The Veterans Employment, Education, and Healthcare Improvement Act (H.R. 3016) would cap flight training tuition and fee benefits at $20,235, a move the Feb. 9 letter warns will “cause immediate and alarming changes to collegiate flight-training degree benefits for our nation’s military veterans.”

“There are great jobs in aviation and our nation’s veterans have earned a right to pursue those opportunities,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “By capping flight training benefits, this legislation would effectively put flying careers out of reach for many vets.”

Without a sizeable, out-of-pocket investment, “a veteran would be unable to attain an aeronautical college degree with a commercial pilot license,” the groups wrote.

The letter also acknowledged “abuses” at a small number of flight schools affiliated with collegiate degree programs but urged lawmakers not to let those issues limit access to flight training for veterans.

“We wholeheartedly agree with the goal to strike a balance and control excessive costs,” the letter said. “However, capping education and training for pilots will harm veterans and limit their employment opportunities in the aviation industry.”

The bill was placed on the “suspension calendar,” which is normally reserved for noncontroversial legislation—a move that some industry observers claim was designed to push the measure through the House without sufficient discussion. Debate on bills on the suspension calendar is limited to 40 minutes.

In addition to AOPA, the letter opposing H.R. 3016 was signed by the Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Air Transportation Association, National Association of State Aviation Officials, and National Business Aviation Association.

Last year, AOPA and other aviation groups spoke out numerous times to protect flight training benefits for veterans.

Joe Kildea

Joe Kildea

AOPA Senior Director of Communications
Joe is a student pilot and his first solo flight was at AOPA’s home airport in Frederick, Maryland. Before joining AOPA in 2015, he worked for numerous political campaigns, news organizations, and the White House Press Office.

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