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Bipartisan bill would spur transportation careers

Promoting Service in Transportation Act to boost job awareness

Bipartisan legislation intended to draw attention to careers in the transportation industry and to diversify the workforce was recently introduced in the House of Representatives.

Photo by Mike Fizer.

The bill authorizes the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop and publish a series of digital, print, and broadcast media public service announcements highlighting the need for more professional airline pilots, air traffic controllers, mechanics, railroad workers, truck drivers, and other transportation industry professionals as the world becomes increasingly more mobile.

Reps. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Don Young (R-Alaska), and Angie Craig (D-Minn.) jointly authored H.R.5118, known as the Promoting Service in Transportation Act, to boost awareness for thousands of aviation jobs that will need to be filled.

“The aviation industry will need more than 800,000 pilots, 769,000 technicians and nearly 20,000 air traffic controllers to meet demand over the next 10 years,” Larsen wrote in a news release.

To meet these goals and to develop a more diverse workforce, transportation opportunities should be better promoted to all Americans, the bipartisan leaders announced in a news release November 15.

Boeing’s annual Pilot and Technician Outlook identifies air travel trends for the next 20 years and includes the need for 914,000 cabin crew members in addition to the 1.57 million pilots and maintenance specialists—figures that are likely to rise as the current professional workforce approaches retirement age.

The median annual wage for airline pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers was $140,340 in May 2018, and commercial pilots earned an average of $82,240, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics research

“In Washington state and across the country, transportation means jobs,” said Larsen. “As demand continues to grow, it is important all Americans are aware of the career opportunities available in the transportation sector to grow the next generation workforce,” he added.

Young noted that Alaska depended heavily on aviation for transportation, commerce, and commodities. “When it comes to transportation, Alaska’s unique geography can present many challenges that require a first-rate transportation workforce to overcome,” he said. “Our aviation industry is essential to Alaska’s economic health, and we must continue to be able to meet the demands of this critical sector.”

Craig said the legislation “aims to attract young people across Minnesota's Second Congressional District to exciting and in-demand local career opportunities such as the district's air traffic control facility in Farmington, and our regional aviation hub, the Minneapolis–St. Paul Airport.” She added that the transportation industry faces “workforce and diversity challenges that we must address now."

AOPA previously reported that female pilots make up about 7 percent of all certificated pilots and the Philadelphia Tribune noted that African-Americans account for less than 3 percent of commercial U.S. pilots. 

The campaign will highlight aviation and land-based transportation career opportunities with additional emphasis on increasing diversity.

AOPA was among the supporters of the bill, along with the National Business Aviation Association, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, the Aviation Technician Education Council, the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and the Transport Workers Union.


David Tulis
David Tulis
Senior Photographer
Senior Photographer David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a private pilot with single-engine land and sea ratings and a tailwheel endorsement. He is also a certificated remote pilot and co-host of the award-wining AOPA Hangar Talk podcast. David enjoys vintage aircraft ad photography.
Topics: Advocacy, Capitol Hill, Career

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