Senate Bill Could Help Revitalize the Industry

Legislation offers financial and rule revision incentives.

New legislation, proposed by senators Jim Inhofe (pictured at AirVenture 2018) and Tammy Duckworth, will offer grants of as much as $500,000 to organizations ready to help.James Inhofe/Facebook

There is no end to the number of people around the world who want to see the U.S. aviation industry thrive. Last week, two U.S. Senators, Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. joined the bandwagon of supporters by introducing a bill titled, “The Securing and Revitalizing Aviation Act (S.3270), to address the need for pilot development and encourage more individuals to enter the field of aviation and for other purposes.”

A provision within the SRAA legislation would create an aircraft pilot education program to help high schoolers join the workforce through aviation-related courses taken at their school for credit. The bill is also designed to increase the number of designated pilot examiners, while enhancing due process protections for pilots who already possess an airman certificate. Pilots who fly volunteer missions and FAA designees not covered under current agency regulations could also see improved immunity coverage. The new bill would grant the NTSB fresh authority to review FAA denials of airmen certificates.

Should S.3270 become law – the legislation was recently sent to committee for discussion – the FAA will also create a $5 million grant program each year to support the education of future pilots, as well as the development of the aircraft pilot workforce for fiscal years 2019 through 2023. That could mean as much as $500,000 per grant in any one of those years to an airline, academic institution or flight training school, a state or local government agency or an organization representing aircraft users, owners or pilots.

Additionally, because seaplanes often conduct operations in a variety of lakes and rivers around the nation, S.3270 would require seaplane-rated pilots to take a free online course focused on aquatic species mitigation to detail how pilots can help prevent the spread of unwanted water-based life from one location to another. The FAA has also agreed to pick up the cost of ATC services at airshows and events. In the past, the FAA has charged organizations like the EAA as much as $500,000 for the ATC personnel needed to staff AirVenture.