March 16, 2023

Duckworth Chairs Commerce Committee Hearing on Strengthening the Aviation Workforce


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (CST) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation—the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)—chaired today’s full committee hearing to examine the challenges facing the aviation workforce and identify solutions for improving the recruitment and retainment of workers in the aviation industry. During her remarks, she touted bipartisan efforts to increase investments in grants that would support the workforce, including legislation like her bipartisan Aviation Workforce Development Enhancement Act, and urged the aviation experts at the hearing to provide recommendations on how best to recruit and support more women in aviation. Video of the Senators remarks during the hearing can be found here, here and here.

When discussing bipartisan efforts to expand aviation workforce investments, Duckworth said: “Without a properly trained, equipped and compensated workforce, the safety of the flying public will be put at risk and the delays we’ve experienced over the past few years will seem mild by comparison. Together with my Subcommittee Ranking Member, Senator Moran, we developed and introduced the bipartisan Aviation Workforce Development Enhancement Act late last year.”

The Senator also thanked Senators Klobuchar (D-MN), Thune (R-SD), Kelly (D-AZ) and Fischer (R-NE) for their bipartisan efforts to increase federal funding for aviation workforce development: “I’m optimistic that working together we will craft a proposal that combines the best elements of our respective bipartisan bills to ensure the forthcoming FAA reauthorization empower our nation’s civil aviation system to build a strong pipeline of pilots and mechanics over the next five years.”

When advocating for increased efforts to reach out to and recruit women into aviation, Duckworth said: “I find it incredibly frustrating that only 2.6 percent of aviation mechanics in the U.S. are women. We just aren’t making the kind of progress we need – and it is even more discouraging that this is happening when we face such an acute need to grow our workforce. I know how critical it is to conduct outreach to young women while they are still in school to help broaden horizons, and hopefully inspire and prepare these young Americans for potentially high-paid careers in aviation mechanical work.”

Last year, Duckworth introduced bipartisan legislation to help meet future needs in our aviation workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Aviation Workforce Development Enhancement Act would help expand the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s current Aviation Workforce Development Grant program by increasing annual funding for pilot development and mechanic development grants, as well as provide grant funding for aviation manufacturing workforce development.