A group of bipartisan lawmakers in the US House have introduced a bill to expand the ranks of skilled aviation maintenance technicians in the US.

The bill, called the Aviation Maintenance Workforce Development Pilot Program Bill, is intended to stave off a looming shortage of maintenance workers by launching a pilot program that would allocate $500,000 in grants to aviation workforce development programs run by governments, industry and academia.

The legislation was introduced by Rep. Sam Graves (R–Missouri) with co-sponsors Markwayne Mullin (R–Oklahoma), Brenda Lawrence (D–Michigan) and Daniel Lipinski (D–Illinois).

“As a pilot and an ATP [airline transport pilot-certified commercial pilot], I have seen firsthand the importance of having a skilled workforce of aviation technicians and mechanics,” Rep. Graves said in a statement May 9 when the bill was introduced. “This legislation provides a viable path forward to address the skills gap and ensure the United States remains a world leader in the aviation industry.”

The bill is similar to a bill introduced in the Senate by Sen. James Inhofe (R–Oklahoma) in March, although the House bill would allow high school students to participate in the workforce development pilot program.

“The professionals of the aircraft maintenance workforce are imperative to keeping our nation’s aviation system the safest and best in the world,” Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Illinois) said. “This program will help recruit and train the next generation of aircraft mechanics.”

The legislation has the support of close to two-dozen groups representing a wide cross-section of the aviation industry, including commercial and general aviation, cargo airlines, regional airlines, repair stations and others.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Ben Goldstein Ben.Goldstein@informa.com