Chair Larsen Opening Statement at Aviation Subcommittee Hearing on “The Future of America’s Aviation Maintenance and Manufacturing Workforce”

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- House Aviation Subcommittee Chair Rick Larsen (WA-02) delivered the below opening statement at today’s House Aviation Subcommittee hearing entitled “Looking Forward: The Future of America’s Aviation Maintenance and Manufacturing Workforce.” You can view Chair Larsen’s opening statement here.

Remarks as prepared for delivery

“Good morning and thank you to today’s witnesses for joining the Aviation Subcommittee’s discussion on the “Future of America’s Aviation Maintenance and Manufacturing Workforce.

“At the beginning of the 116th Congress, I set a forward-looking agenda for this Subcommittee, “Aviation and Aerospace 2050,” to focus on fostering technological innovation, ensuring safety and improving the nation’s competitiveness in the global aviation and aerospace marketplace.

“To ensure the United States remains at the forefront of aviation and aerospace, industry, federal agencies and Congress must continue to explore how to recruit and train the future aviation workforce.

“Maintenance and manufacturing are key reasons why the U.S. aviation industry is such a powerful economic engine.

“This topic hits particularly close to home for me.

“The Pacific Northwest is the aviation capital of the world.

“In my home state of Washington, more than 136,000 highly skilled aviation workers produce an estimated 1,400 aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) each year.

“Snohomish County, where I was born and raised and in part represent, is home to nearly 50 percent of aviation and aerospace jobs in Washington state.

“In 2018, Congress passed the longest Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization in decades.

“The bipartisan five-year law includes a comprehensive workforce development title to support important aerospace jobs across the U.S., and to help the aviation industry prepare and diversify its future workforce.

“Among its provisions, the law:

“Authorizes a key aviation maintenance workforce grant program to support the education and recruitment of aviation maintenance technicians,

“Establishes a Women in Aviation Advisory Board to encourage women and girls to pursue rewarding aviation careers, and

“Includes my provision to create a new Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Task Force to encourage high school students to enroll in aviation manufacturing, maintenance and engineering apprenticeships.

“On today’s first panel of witnesses are Kate Lang, the FAA’s Senior Advisor for Aviation Workforce Outreach, and Heather Krause, the Government Accountability Office’s Director of civil aviation issues.

“Ms. Lang, I expect your testimony will offer substantive updates on the administration’s efforts to swiftly implement the FAA reauthorization bill’s workforce requirements and other efforts to address aerospace workforce-related challenges; and

“Ms. Krause, I look forward to hearing more about barriers to enhancing the workforce development pipeline.

“While globalization and the emergence of new markets present opportunities for American aviation, there are challenges.

“For example, according to the Aviation Technician Education Council, 30 percent of the Aviation Maintenance Technician workforce is at or near retirement age.

“Although today’s hearing focuses on the U.S. aviation maintenance and manufacturing workforce, the issues faced by U.S. aerospace employers are reflective of broader issues across the industry.

“Witnesses on our second panel play important roles in the aviation maintenance and manufacturing pipeline.

“I have also seen how federal funding is having a positive impact on the recruitment of a more diverse aviation maintenance workforce in Washington.

“Women currently make up less than 3 percent of the aviation maintenance workforce nationwide.

“With the aid of a National Science Foundation grant, Everett Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Training & Education Center (AMTEC) is partnering with local school districts and the aviation industry to increase recruiting of women into its aerospace technician programs by 30 percent over the next three years.

“I have also visited the Edmonds Community College’s Washington Aerospace Training & Research (WATR) Center located at Paine Field in my district, where, with the help of GI Bill benefits and other financial assistance programs, students learn the skills necessary for high-wage, high-demand aerospace and manufacturing jobs in just 12 weeks.

“Aviation High School and Vaughn College in New York are innovative educational leaders whose programs produce future aviation maintenance technicians and engineers. 

“Mr. Jackson and Ms. Devivo, I look forward to hearing more about your efforts, and what the FAA or Congress can do to improve outdated maintenance curricula and reduce the amount of debt for students.

“Key employers like Delta Air Lines and Republic Airways will shed light on recruiting and retaining skilled workers.

“Mr. McDermott and Ms. Donati, I am interested in hearing more about your companies’ work to expand the pipeline of qualified workers, particularly to women, people of color and other historically underrepresented groups.

“Lastly, manufacturers like Gulfstream depend on a skilled workforce to remain competitive in the U.S. and abroad.

“Mr. Neely, I look forward to hearing your recommendations on addressing the skills gap and what is on the horizon for the U.S. maintenance and manufacturing workforce.

“The future of America’s aviation maintenance and manufacturing workforce is bright, but it is clear Congress can do more to ensure the U.S. remains at the forefront of aviation and aerospace.

“Today’s hearing provides this Subcommittee the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to supporting U.S. jobs and the aviation workforce.

“Improving skills training and diversifying the aviation workforce is an all-around win for employers, job seekers and the aviation and aerospace sectors.

“Thank you again to today’s witnesses, and I look forward to our discussion.”