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GA groups urge Senate not to cap flight training for veteransGA groups urge Senate not to cap flight training for veterans

Aviation groups including AOPA are renewing their opposition to placing limits on flight training for veterans.
The Department of Veterans Affairs office is one of the many government agencies that have influence over general aviation. Photo by David Tulis.

In a joint letter to leaders of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, 10 general aviation associations urged the full Senate to reject calls to place limits on flight training benefits for veterans.

GA groups fight to protect flight training funding for veterans.The letter noted that aviation training provides a path to a well-paying civilian career and urged lawmakers to ensure that veterans can use their benefits for flight training, adding that “absent significant personal financial resources, no veteran can attain an aeronautical college degree that includes earning a commercial pilot license.”

Such flight training programs do not qualify for federally backed student loans and financial institutions often treat them as unsecured loans with high interest rates.

“Given the pressing need for pilots in this country across all sectors, a cap would be counterproductive not only to veterans but to our nation’s economy,” the May 17 letter said.

To help address concerns about flight training benefits, the signatories offered to work with the Veterans Affairs Committee and the Senate to establish a joint working group including Veterans Administration officials, aviation associations, collegiate educators, and flight training providers.

The letter was sent one day after the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee approved the Veterans First Act without the controversial cap on flight training.

“We appreciate the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee’s leadership on this issue,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Our veterans have earned their benefits and they should be allowed to use them to pursue the education and career of their choice—including a career in aviation.”

In addition to Baker, the was signed by the leaders of the Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Association of State Aviation Officials, National Air Transportation Association, National Business Aviation Association, Air Line Pilots Association International, Air Medical Operators Association, and The Association of Air Medical Services.

AOPA and others had previously opposed provisions in the House Veterans Employment, Education, and Healthcare Improvement Act ( H.R. 3016) capping flight training benefits at $20,235, a figure too low to allow students to earn a commercial certificate needed to begin working as a pilot. Despite objections that legislation passed with the cap intact.

The full Senate must now vote on the Veterans First Act. If it passes, the Senate and House will have to reconcile their differences and reach agreement before the legislation can become law.

Elizabeth Tennyson

Elizabeth A Tennyson

Senior Director of Communications
AOPA Senior Director of Communications Elizabeth Tennyson is an instrument-rated private pilot who first joined AOPA in 1998.
Topics: Advocacy, Capitol Hill, AOPA

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