Miss. Senator Joins Bipartisan Push for USDOT, FAA to Implement Two Workforce Grant Programs

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today joined a bipartisan push for full implementation of two aviation workforce grant programs created by Congress in 2018 to expand the development of the next generation of aircraft pilots and maintenance technicians.

Hyde-Smith is among 20 Senators who signed a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Director Steve Dickson calling for the implementation of workforce grant programs authorized in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act.  The FAA pilot education and aviation technician programs received full funding in the FY2020 appropriations cycle.

“The COVID pandemic only fortifies the need for our nation to be proactive in training aircraft pilots and maintenance technicians.  I consider this a strong growth area in Mississippi and believe these grant programs could help advance this training in our state,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

In their letter, the Senators ask that the grant programs be launched by the end of the current fiscal year to begin providing workforce training in the aviation industry, and help the industry partner with local governments, schools, and other organizations to provide training.  The success of the programs would help close the current skills gap preventing Americans from accessing these good-paying jobs and spur future economic activity.

“The ongoing pandemic-related economic disruptions only heighten the urgency and need for these programs.  Due in particular to the increased pace of aviation sector retirements in recent months, when industry business conditions return to pre-pandemic levels, the need for pilots and technicians will be more acute than before,” the Senators wrote.

A copy of the letter, led by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), is available here.

Last fall, Hyde-Smith joined federal and state officials in announcing a $2.0 million Economic Development Administration grant to Pearl River Community College to help construct a new Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Academy at the Stennis International Airport.  Another $3.9 million in state and local matching funds are being invested in the project, which is expected to help create 469 jobs, retain 550 jobs, and generate $5 million in private investments.

Press Release