The National Center for the Advancement of Aviation Act is backed by AOPA and more than 180 organizations and would create an independent center to foster cooperation and collaboration among the primary aviation sectors (commercial, general, and military).
The bipartisan House bill (H.R.3482) was introduced by Reps. André Carson (D-Ind.), Don Young (R-Alaska), and House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), along with Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii), Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-D.C.), and Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.). All serve on the House Aviation Subcommittee except for Mullin.
As the airline sector rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic, it faces a long-term shortage of qualified professionals. The NCAA will support all corners of aviation, addressing workforce needs, expanding opportunities, and improving safety.
“The NCAA is supported by virtually the entire aviation industry and has been introduced in both the House and Senate with significant bipartisan support. It’s needed now more than ever, and we fully support it,” said AOPA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs and Advocacy Jim Coon. “Benefits of the NCAA will be far-reaching and will ensure that the United States remains the leader in aviation.”
The NCAA, among other things, would help the industry overcome talent shortages by shaping a new generation of professionals, encompassing pilots, engineers, unmanned aircraft systems operators, aviation maintenance technicians, and others. The center would also create the resources needed by curriculum developers to integrate science, technology, engineering, and math education, and leverage knowledge and expertise among industry sectors. In addition, the NCAA would house a central source for economic and safety data research, enable greater opportunities for apprenticeships, and help military veterans and others transition to well-paying aviation technical jobs.
“I’m honored to join my colleagues in reintroducing our legislation to help expand knowledge and good ideas across various aviation sectors,” said Carson. “Our bill helps break down the information silos that still persist across commercial aviation, general aviation and military aviation sectors, which will help improve safety and best practices, and expand opportunities for people interested in the aviation workforce. America’s aviation industry has broken barriers, created good jobs, and made our world better-connected. As air travel bounces back from the pandemic, it’s imperative that we pass this legislation to help expand that legacy and strengthen the industry.”
“Alaska’s geography is incredibly unique. For a state that is 2.5 times the size of Texas, Alaska has about the same amount of public road mileage as Delaware. Approximately 82% of Alaskan communities are not served by a road system, and the state owns and operates 235 rural airports. As a result, aviation is [a] central part of our state’s transportation culture,” Young said. “The need for pilots in our state will only continue to grow, and if Alaska’s aviation sector is to prosper, 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 Congressmen Carson and 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, particularly as we continue negotiating a potential infrastructure package. This Congress, I will continue working to get this bill across the finish line so that the dreams of Alaska’s future pilots can take flight.”
“In Washington state and across the country, aviation and aerospace mean jobs and are key to economic recovery,” Larsen said. “A National Center for the Advancement of Aviation would 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. As Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure the future of aviation remains bright.”
No general fund taxpayer dollars would be used to support the NCAA. The legislation calls for funding the initiative with a very small contribution from the aviation trust fund, which receives funding from the actual users of the aviation system through fees and fuel taxes. It is also anticipated that private sector funding would be provided. Users of the national aviation system currently pay for nearly all the costs associated with the operations of the FAA, air traffic control modernization, and airport construction projects. Moreover, the proposed center would be prohibited from involvement in any political or legislative activity.
The center would allow the FAA to focus on its core priorities such as aircraft and airman certification and safety regulations, as well as addressing the need to reform and adjust the designated pilot examiner program, fixing the special issuance medical process, ensuring that our airports remain safe and vibrant, and continuing to modernize our air traffic system.
AOPA will continue to keep members up to date as both the Senate and House bills move through the legislative process.