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Momentum grows for creation of National Center for the Advancement of Aviation

Bipartisan legislation to address challenges in the aviation and aerospace industries in the United States was introduced in the House of Representatives on October 6.

A mechanic repairs a small aircraft. iStock photo.

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.

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.”

Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.). Photo courtesy of Office of Rep. André Carson.

“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.”

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). Photo courtesy of Office of Rep. Don Young.

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.”

Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.). Photo courtesy of Office of Rep. Rick Larsen.

“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 representing all segments of aviation support the legislation.

Alyssa J. Miller
Eric Blinderman
Senior Director of Communications
Eric Blinderman is AOPA’s Senior Director of Communications. Eric joined AOPA in 2020 after several years at leading marketing/communications agencies in New York and is looking forward to putting his newly minted private pilot certificate to work.
Topics: Advocacy, Capitol Hill, Aviation Industry

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