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December 12, 2019

Inhofe, Moran, Duckworth, Capito, Young, Bustos Introduce Bill To Promote Advancement in Technical Aviation Training

US Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.VA.), introduced a bill this week to improve education and training programs at aviation maintenance technician schools. The Promoting Aviation Regulations for Technical Training (PARTT) 147 Act of 2019 would establish performance-based regulations to ensure aviation maintenance education institutions have the flexibility to teach core curriculum reflective of the ongoing technical advances and innovation happening across the aviation and aerospace industry. Reps. Don Young (R-Ark.) and Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Innovation in the aviation and aviation maintenance industries has led to safer and more efficient aircraft. However, outdated regulations have prevented schools from implementing modern curriculum to teach students the skills necessary to maintain and repair modern, sophisticated aircraft,” Inhofe said. “I am proud to introduce this legislation today which would empower schools with the flexibility to teach core curriculum reflective of the technical advances happening across the aviation and aerospace industry, would reduce restrictive government regulations, and would ensure schools are graduating successful students into productive mechanics on the flight line or maintenance floor.”

“Allowing educational institutions the flexibility to create and implement curriculum reflective of the continual advances in the aerospace industry is critical for a student’s ability to be prepared for success in their future careers,” said Moran. 

“We’ve seen amazing innovation and advancements in the aviation industry over the past 50 years and to keep pace, we need to make sure our workforce is prepared to meet today’s technical demands,” said Duckworth. “This legislation will help promote the development of performance-based curriculums needed to modernize education programs and help develop the next generation of highly-skilled aviation maintenance technicians. I’m proud to join leaders like Senator Inhofe and Representatives Bustos and Young on this important effort.

“This legislation updates 50 year old regulations and ensure aviation maintenance education institutions have the flexibility to teach a curriculum that reflects the ongoing technical advances happening across the aviation and aerospace industry. This is especially important for the emerging aerospace industry West Virginia. Our state is home to industry leaders such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, Bombardier, and dozens of others that all need a skilled manufacturing workforce. I’m proud to join my colleague, Senator Inhofe on this legislation and I am confident that this bill will go a long way in improving the training programs at maintenance technician schools,” Capito said.

“When it comes to transportation, Alaska’s unique geography can present many challenges. Aviation is one of the most important means of traveling our state, and the demand for air travel requires a strong workforce of both aviators and the mechanics who support them,” said Young. “Current FAA regulations mandate a particular curriculum for maintenance technicians, but this curriculum has not been meaningfully updated in more than five decades. Our aviation sector looks almost nothing today like it did 50 years ago, and modernization is critical. The Promoting Aviation Regulations for Technical Training 147 Act is a fix that is long overdue. Bringing our maintenance technician curriculum into the future is crucial for attracting and maintaining our mechanics, and I am proud to be supporting this legislation. I would like to thank Senators Inhofe and Duckworth, in addition to Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, for their partnership on this important issue.”

“We must improve the pipeline from training to the workforce – like the innovative partnership between Rock Valley College and AAR at the Chicago Rockford International Airport in my district – which plays a major role in the economic well-being of our region,” Bustos said. “This legislation will allow for a smoother, more efficient transition to the workforce and ensure aviation students have an up-to-date curriculum. I hope this legislation moves forward swiftly to foster collaboration between industry and educational institutions in order to keep up with advancements in technology.”

Full text of the bill can be found here

Stakeholder Support:

A number of stakeholders wrote a letter of support for The PARTT 147 Act of 2019, which can be viewed here.

A letter from Oklahoma stakeholders can be found here.

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.

- The Promoting Aviation Regulations for Technical Training (PARTT) 147 Act of 2019 would direct FAA to promulgate a new part 147 that would establish the requirements for operating an aviation maintenance technician school certificated by FAA and the general operating rules for those holding that certificate. The bill would not change the requirement that entities operating an aviation maintenance technician school must hold an FAA certificate.

- 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 should not become a contributing factor 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.



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