The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved legislation to establish the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation Act (H.R. 3482) on April 28. Nearly 200 organizations across all aviation and aerospace sectors expressed support for the creation of the NCAA in a letter to the committee.
The House bill was introduced in May 2021 by Reps. André Carson (D-Ind.), the late Don Young (R-Alaska), and House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen (D-Wash.). The bill has sixty-two bipartisan cosponsors, and more than half serve on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
The NCAA would be a private not-for-profit entity and no general fund taxpayer dollars would be used to support it. Rather, it would be financed by those who use our nation’s aviation system and contribute to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. The center can also receive private sector contributions and would be prohibited from involvement in any political or legislative activity.
The center would serve as an independent body to facilitate collaboration and cooperation between all aviation and aerospace sectors, as well as related partners, to coordinate, promote, and support the future of aviation. The collaboration among commercial, general, and military aviation sectors is seen as necessary to address looming workforce shortages.
“I am pleased to see this bipartisan aviation legislation advance through committee,” Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said. “It has been clear for some time that more must be done to build and sustain our workforce if we want to remain world leaders in aviation, and creating the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation will help us do just that.”
A recent Boeing commercial study found that more than 600,000 new pilots and 625,000 maintenance technicians will be needed to fly and maintain the global commercial fleet over the next 20 years.
The Republican Leader of the Committee, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) added, “We all know that we’ve got to take significant steps to address the shortage of pilots, mechanics, and other workers throughout aviation, and this bill is an important step in that effort. By bringing government and key stakeholders all to the table, the NCAA will work to guide people to careers in aviation. In turn, the NCAA will help foster a vibrant aviation community and keep the United States at the forefront of this field that we pioneered and have led the world in for over a century. I appreciate the work that AOPA has put into this effort, as well as the Members of Congress who’ve led on this bipartisan legislation, including the late Don Young, and I look forward to seeing it move through the legislative process and become law.”
The NCAA would bring the industry together to address workforce shortages by shaping a generation of new pilots, aerospace engineers, unmanned aircraft systems operators, aviation maintenance technicians, and other professionals.
“As Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, I am focused on investing in an innovative aviation system that creates jobs and will last into the 2050s and beyond,” Rep. Larsen said. “A National Center for the Advancement of Aviation will foster greater collaboration and technological innovation in U.S. airspace, improve aviation safety, boost U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace, and prepare the next generation workforce to meet the demands of the aviation economy. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure the future of aviation remains bright.”
Focusing on several key areas for the benefit of all aviation the NCAA would enable education efforts through the development and deployment of STEM-based aviation curriculum in middle and high schools. AOPA’s high school aviation curriculum is now being taught in over 300 high schools in 48 states. This curriculum provides teachers with the tools and training needed to educate the next generation of aviation professionals.
To directly help address workforce shortages including pilots, maintenance technicians, and technical personnel, the NCAA will serve as a center of collaboration to leverage and share expertise and best practices among all industry sectors. The center would also assist veterans in transitioning to productive aviation sector opportunities.
As an enabler of cooperation, the center would also serve as a repository for research conducted by institutions of higher education, research institutions, and other stakeholders regarding aviation and aerospace workforce matters.
“We are thrilled that the Committee has moved this important legislation forward and brought the NCAA one step closer to fruition,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “We need this important Center of collaboration to bring about real solutions to the workforce challenges the aviation and aerospace industries, including the military, are currently facing and will be in the decades to come. I am also pleased that STEM aviation curriculum for our schools is a key component of the Center’s work and applaud the committee for its foresight and its continued recognition for the NCAA’s need.”
A Senate companion bill was introduced in May 2021 by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).
H.R. 3482 now awaits further action by the House and Senate before it is sent to the president to be signed into law.