Credit: Official photo / U.S. House of Representatives
Three Georgia U.S. House members co-sponsor Aviation Workforce Development Act
U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) talks about federal legislation that would add training at commercial airline schools as qualified expenses under tax advantaged investment accounts that are used to save for colleges and universities.
Three members of Georgia’s U.S. House delegation have signed on as original co-sponsors for federal legislation aimed at producing more airline pilots and technicians.
Among them is Democrat Lucy McBath, who worked for three decades as a flight attendant for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.
The bill will add training at commercial airline schools as qualified expenses under tax advantaged investment accounts, known as 529 Plans, that are used to save for colleges and universities.
“We just need to be giving our young people more opportunities to chase their dreams and chase their dreams in a way that also builds our economy and that strengthens our travel industry,” McBath said. “And we need to make sure that this education is affordable.”
Georgia Republican Mike Collins is the legislation's author and introduced the bill in Congress. Georgia Republican Drew Ferguson is also an original co-sponsor.
McBath hopes the bill’s bipartisan support will create a path forward for it in the House and Senate.
“The Aviation Workforce Development Act is a commonsense proposal to give Americans who want to pursue a career in aviation, on the ground or in the air, the same tools as those seeking four-year degrees with zero increased cost to taxpayers,” Collins said.
The proposal comes as the airline industry struggles with staffing shortages, fueled partly by growth in the travel industry but also by retirements of pilots aging out of their careers.
The bill could benefit Georgia companies like Delta, which expects to see 500 retirements each year for the next few years, and Savannah-based Gulfstream Aerospace, which has endorsed the bill.
Delta recently announced a partnership with a Florida-based flight training school to increase the supply of pilots coming into their employment pipeline. Delta is currently hiring about 200 pilots per month.