Congress Heads into FAA Reauthorization Year, ATEC Chimes In

Reauthorization is the process by which Congress provides funding and operating authority for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and typically serves as a vehicle to address a range of aviation issues. The last reauthorization bill was approved in 2018 and authorized the FAA for five years (it was the first five-year authorization since 1982). That authorization is set to expire September 30, 2023.

Ahead of the October deadline, Congress is actively soliciting industry input. These deliberations provide a relatively rare opportunity for the council to propose and move legislative priorities that further aviation technical workforce initiatives.

The council’s legislative committee has identified and communicated the following priorities for consideration in the next FAA reauthorization bill:

  • 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, including mechanic certification. The collaborative process is threatened by recent and overly restrictive interpretation of the Administrative Procedures Act, specifically language on ex parte communications. ATEC asks Congress to implement recommendations submitted by a call-to-action subgroup in direct response to congressional request that call for timely publishing of time-critical safety information and continued engagement with community partners to continually improve the ACS and accompanying guidance materials.


  • Support a skilled and dynamic aviation workforce by increasing workforce grant program funding. In the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, Congress established the Aviation Workforce Development Grants program. The program was massively oversubscribed with more than 350 applicants for just $10 million in available funds in the first round of distributions. The council encourages Congress to expand the program as recommend in the Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Report, by allocating $50 million in the next FAA reauthorization bill. ATEC also recommends expanding eligibility to including non-profit organizations, clarifying that part 147 schools are eligible for grants and that a past award grant doesn’t bar you from a future grant, allocating funding to FAA personnel to run the program; improving transparency and industry engagement; and creating a mechanism to share case studies about how grant money has been put to use.


  • Provide mechanic trainees the opportunity to take a portion of the FAA mechanic test earlier in their training cycle, to support and encourage aviation maintenance programs in high school. Under the current regulatory framework, high school aviation maintenance programs may not—unlike their pilot program counterparts—refer their students to an FAA-approved testing center to take the general written knowledge test. This is a disadvantage to high school maintenance programs who cannot take advantage of the generally adopted consensus that individuals completing a portion of required testing earlier in the training cycle are more likely to ultimately become certified. The council requests that Congress direct the agency to modify part 65 to allow applicants to sit for the general knowledge test prior to meeting those experience requirements


  • 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. The council asks its legislative leaders to direct the FAA to create a military competency exam that will provide a pathway to mechanic certification for existing servicemen and women, similar to the pathway available to military pilots.

For more detail on the above priorities, click here.

Plan to join us to push these important initiatives at the Fly-In, taking place September 19-22 in Washington DC.