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American Aviation Act Introduced to Provide Pilot Training to Veterans

Flight Training Airplane

A bill introduced by U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) seeks to provide flight training services to America’s military veterans seeking civilian pilot positions. If enacted, S. 3322 would provide grants to veterans who are not already military pilots for flight training. The bill would have the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) manage the grant system.

“Commercial aviation is currently facing a real need for qualified pilots and our legislation will help meet that need by connecting veterans with flight training schools like UND,” said Sen. Hoeven. UND refers to University of North Dakota.

Under S. 3322, schools would need to have established pathways to employment with commercial air carriers to be eligible for the grants to recruit and enroll veterans. Additionally, the school would also need to hold a restricted airline transport pilot (R-ATP) letter of authorization. For a school to qualify, they will also be assessed on:

  • The school’s success/pass rate
  • The total estimated cost per veteran to complete the eligible school’s program
  • The anticipated time from start of training under the eligible school’s program to employment
  • The school’s graduate placement percentage
  • The school’s use of advance technology and simulation

If approved, eligible school’s would be able to use the grant funds:

  • To recruit and enroll veterans for flight training services
  • To provide guidance and flight training services to the veterans enrolled, including additional training required to reach proficiency
  • To provide applicable program tuition, books, training materials, and equipment

“The largest barrier to becoming a commercial airline pilot is often the financial cost associated with training,” said Elizabeth Bjerke, associate dean of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at UND.“ Bjerke added that the funding would allow UND to provide flight training to 100 veterans annually.

The bill has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Greg started his professional pilot journey in 2002 after graduating from Embry Riddle. Since that time he has accumulated over 8,000 hours working as a pilot. Greg’s professional experience includes flight instructing, animal tracking, backcountry flying, forest firefighting, passenger charter, part 135 cargo, flying for a regional airline, a national low cost airline, a legacy airline, and also working as a manager in charge of Part 135 and Part 121 training programs.

Greg Thomson