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House approves federal aerospace, STEM education center

National Center for the Advancement of Aviation advances

The U.S. House of Representatives on September 28 overwhelmingly passed legislation to establish the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation. This bill would help the aviation and aerospace industries collaborate on programs that will ensure the aviation workforce is well trained and prepared.

Legislation headed to the U.S. Senate for final approval would establish a federal center to support aviation STEM education and help address shortages of pilots, technicians, and other aerospace professionals. Photo by Chris Rose.

The bill would also help introduce our nation's youth to aviation science, technology, engineering, and math curriculum and assist our military veterans in transitioning to opportunities in the aviation sector.

The National Center for the Advancement of Aviation Act (H.R.3482) was introduced by Reps. André Carson (D-Ind.), the late Don Young (R-Alaska), and House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen (D-Wash.).

The NCAA would serve as an independent body to enable cooperation among all industry sectors to coordinate, promote, and support the future of aviation. The NCAA is seen as a necessary initiative to shape a generation of new pilots, aerospace engineers, unmanned aircraft system operators, aviation maintenance technicians, and other professionals.

A recent Boeing commercial study found that more than 600,000 new pilots and 610,000 maintenance technicians will be needed to fly and maintain the global commercial fleet over the next 20 years.

The NCAA will have an enormous impact on young people as it will foster educational efforts through the development and deployment of STEM-based aviation curriculum in middle and high schools. AOPA’s High School Aviation STEM curriculum is now being taught in over 400 high schools in almost every U.S. state. This curriculum provides teachers with the tools and training needed to educate and inspire the next generation of aviation professionals.

As an enabler of cooperation, the center would also serve as a repository for research conducted by institutions of higher education, research institutions, and other stakeholders regarding aviation and aerospace workforce matters.

“We applaud House passage of this much-needed bill and appreciate the vision of its sponsors. This is not a government entity, and it is not funded by general taxpayer funds, but it does recognize the need for all sectors of the aviation industry, including military aviation, to collaborate on areas that will ensure that our aviation industry remains vibrant and competitive,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “I am especially gratified that developing STEM aviation curriculum for our nation’s youth is recognized as a key component of the center’s work.”

Nearly 200 organizations across all aviation and aerospace sectors expressed support for the creation of the NCAA in a letter to the House committee in April 2022.

A Senate companion bill was introduced in May 2021 by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). H.R.3482 now awaits further action by the Senate before it is sent to the president to be signed into law.

Alyssa J. Miller

Eric Blinderman

Senior Director of Communications
Eric Blinderman is AOPA’s Senior Director of Communications. Eric joined AOPA in 2020 after several years at leading marketing/communications agencies in New York and is looking forward to putting his newly minted private pilot certificate to work.
Topics: Aviation Education Programs, Capitol Hill

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