Inhofe, Hatch, Cantwell, Blumenthal Introduce Bill to Modernize Aviation Maintenance

US Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced a bill to improve training programs at aviation maintenance technician schools. The legislation requires the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to modernize the mandated curriculum, which has not been updated in five decades.

“The aviation maintenance industry supports skilled, high-paying jobs around the country. Yet, employers face a costly training gap when hiring new employees because the FAA’s required curriculum hasn’t been updated in over 50 years to reflect technological progress,” Inhofe said. “This legislation will update regulatory standards and make it easier for schools to turn successful students into productive mechanics on the flight line or maintenance floor.”

“I am pleased to join my friends in introducing legislation that will help bring aviation maintenance curriculum into the 21st century,” said Hatch. “These updates are long overdue. Our proposal ensures that technician students have access to the training they need to keep pilots and passengers safe.”

“More than 19,000 aviation maintenance workers in Washington state are powering our state’s industry-leading aerospace businesses, and the need for aviation mechanics continues to grow. That’s why it is critical we modernize aviation maintenance training curriculum to foster cutting edge innovation and maintain the highest levels of safety,” said Cantwell.

“This bill will ensure that the next generation of aviation maintenance workers are trained and prepared for good, skilled jobs in this growing industry,” said Blumenthal. While planes are becoming more sophisticated, the curriculum for aspiring aviation mechanics remains antiquated. Aviation maintenance mechanics are the backbone of a safe and functioning aircraft, and this bill—truly a no brainer—will modernize technician training and ensure that the Federal Aviation Administration makes long overdue updates to curriculum standards.”

Statements of Support:

A variety of airlines support the bill, which was also endorsed by dozens of industry leaders in a letter sent to Congress this week.  

The letter has been signed by the following organizations: the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, Aerospace Industries Association, Aerospace Maintenance Council, Aircraft Electronics Association, Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, Airlines for America, Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance, Aviation Maintenance Technician Association, Aviation Suppliers Association, Aviation Technician Education Council, Cargo Airline Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, International Air Transport Association, Modification and Replacement Parts Association, National Air Carrier Association, National Air Transportation Association, Professional Aviation Maintenance Association, Regional Airline Association, and Women in Aviation International.

Industry Letter

“In an age where technological advances are constantly driving innovation for safer and more efficient aircraft, schools are mandated to teach antiquated and inconsequential subject areas. Seeing no regulatory relief is in sight, the undersigned organizations strongly support your legislation requiring the agency to modernize aviation maintenance technician training.”

Gil West, Delta Airlines Chief Operating Officer

“Delta employs more than 10,000 aviation maintenance professionals who power our airline’s industry-leading reliability, so it’s critical that their education keeps pace with the technological advances in today’s modern commercial aircraft, as this legislation introduced by Chairman Hatch and Senators Cantwell, Blumenthal and Inhofe boldly intends to require.” 

Mike Thompson, SkyWest Airlines Chief Operating Officer

“With over 100 new aircraft in our fleet and 2,000 maintenance professionals, SkyWest looks forward to enhanced educational curriculums that prepare technicians for today’s modern operating environment.”

Background:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations dictate what educational institutions teach aspiring aviation maintenance mechanics. These curriculum requirements, however, have not been updated in over fifty years.

This bill requires the FAA to update mandated curriculum taught at aviation maintenance technician schools (governed by part 147 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations).

Industry bears the cost of retraining aviation maintenance technician graduates to complete basic tasks required to maintain a modern, sophisticated aircraft.

The outdated curriculum and necessary retraining upon entry into the workforce likely contribute to the looming shortage of aviation maintenance technicians that threatens to undermine the growth and competitiveness of one of the most important sectors in our economy.