The council is the aviation technical education's representative in Washington and regularly advocates for common-sense regulation with executive branch personnel, including Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Education officials. ATEC's specific legislative priorities are as follows:
Ensure a smooth transition to the new regulation governing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certificated aviation maintenance technician schools. Seventeen months after Congress directed the FAA to remove and replace the current Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations part 147 with a community-drafted, performance-based regulation, the new rule has been promulgated with an effective date of Sept. 21, 2022. ATEC continues to engage with FAA officials to ensure a smooth and standard approach to aviation technical education across all local offices.
Ensure regular and reliable updates to the mechanic Airman Certification Standard. A new certification standard now drives curriculum and testing to ensure both are in alignment. But certification standards are inadequate for today's industry needs. The council will continually engage with the FAA and our industry partners to recommend changes to the standard that will close the gap between certification standards and industry requirements.
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, non-certificated 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 will work with the agency to make certification pathways available earlier in the training cycle.
Expand access to FAA airman testing. Forty percent of aviation technician school graduates do not take the 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. The council will continue to encourage the FAA to publish a revision to the Airman Certification ODA Order (8100.15) to expand FAA mechanic testing capacity for our students.
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 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.