Legislative Priorities

Ensure FAA airman certification standards (ACS) are maintained in support of aviation safety and industry workforce needs. The ACS are a product of a highly successful, decades-long collaboration between the FAA and industry stakeholders to clearly define what a person needs to know, say, and do to obtain airman certification. ATEC asked Congress to ensure FAA reauthorization bill provisions are implemented including directing the agency to carry out industry recommendations on maintaining and updating ACS and reengaging the ACS working group to ensure testing and training remain correlated.


Support a skilled and dynamic aviation workforce by increasing workforce grant program funding. In the 2018 FAA reauthorization bill, Congress established the Aviation Workforce Development Grants program, authorizing $10 million in funding for pilot and maintenance workforce development programs. The 2024 reauthorization bill allocates $15 million for each of the three programs and would also expand eligibility to including non-profit organizations and any part 147 program (whether it is considered an institute of higher education or not). ATEC encourages Congress to appropriate funding as set forth in the reauthorization legislation.


Implement initiatives that will expedite service member transition into civil aviation careers. ATEC estimates the civil aviation industry is capturing less than 10 percent of exiting veterans with aviation maintenance experience. More can and should be done to ease the burden experienced by veterans with valuable experience but no clear path to civilian certification. ATEC encourages Congress to ensure implementation of 2024 reauthorization bill provisions directing the agency to create a military competency test and associated ACS and better leverage the Joint Services Aviation Maintenance Technician Certification Council (JSAMTCC).


Stand Up the National Center for the Advancement of Aerospace. ATEC supports a national, independent forum to facilitate collaboration and cooperation between all sectors of aviation to coordinate, promote, and support the future of aviation and ensure the U.S. remains a global aviation and aerospace leader and encourages Congress to appropriate dollars in line with funding set forth in the FAA reauthorization bill.


Expand access to FAA airman testing. Forty percent of aviation technician school graduates do not take the oral and practical exam necessary to receive FAA mechanic certification—access to FAA-designated examiners is one of the largest barriers to student testing. The agency has proposed expansion of its Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program to include examiner delegations, which would allow schools to manage FAA testing delegates and meet student demand. Unfortunately, the policy approval process is stalled. The council asks legislative leaders to engage with agency officials to expedite review of Revision C to the Airman Certification ODA Order (8100.15) and expand FAA mechanic testing capacity for our students.


Provide access to general knowledge testing earlier in the training cycle. Under the current regulatory framework, high school aviation maintenance programs may not refer their students to an FAA-approved testing center to take the general written knowledge test. ATEC proposed a modification to part 65 to allow applicants to sit for the general knowledge test prior to meeting experience requirements. In addition, Congress has asked for an “evaluation” of aviation maintenance curriculum, an “assessment” of opportunities to allow a high school student to take the general knowledge exam, and submission of working group recommendations to “facilitate the approval of aviation maintenance curriculum for use by a high school or secondary school educator.” ATEC encourages lawmakers to ensure FAA carries out these provisions.


Include aviation technical programs as STEM fields across all federal agency classification systems. For example, the Department of Homeland Security does not include all aviation maintenance programs to be considered a “STEM field of study,” which limits students’ ability to apply for visa extensions to work in the U.S. after graduation. Aviation technical program codes are absent from similar lists maintained by the Department of Labor, meaning they cannot take advantage of STEM-focused programming or all the downstream benefits of having that categorization. The council asks congressional representatives to ensure aviation maintenance programs are designated as STEM programs across all federal government agencies.


Direct certification efficiency through systematic reforms. Currently, DMEs input redundant information across three systems for a single oral and practical test. Mechanic applicants and examiners operate outside the web-based system used for other airman certifications, leading to mailed applications due to the absence of electronic signature capabilities. Unlike their pilot counterparts, mechanic examiners lack comparable discretion during exams, resulting in standardized oral questions often irrelevant to the practical project at hand. ATEC urges the agency to transition mechanic applications to a web-based platform and grant DMEs equivalent discretion in examinations as enjoyed by pilot counterparts, streamlining processes and improving relevance in testing procedures.