SBC Examines Workforce Shortage in Aviation Industry
WASHINGTON – Today, the House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce held a hearing to examine the pilot and mechanic shortage in the aviation industry, specifically within small businesses. While the shortage has been widely documented, the impact to small firms operating as part of this pipeline remains unexamined.
“With airlines growing and their need for pilots and mechanics ever increasing, small businesses are particularly vulnerable to losing their workforce at a faster rate than their competitors. The point of this hearing is to hear the stories of those who have boots on the ground, and to also inform those who are entering the workforce that aviation is a viable option for their future. Our economy needs pilots and mechanics and our witnesses are here to tell you that they are hiring people like you, right now,” said Subcommittee Chairman Steve Knight (R-CA).
Witness Testimony: Addressing the Aviation Workforce Shortage First-Hand
“Recruiting and retaining the next generation of aviation professionals is the most pressing strategic challenge facing the aviation maintenance community,” said Brett Levanto, Vice President of Communications for Aeronautical Repair Station Association. “Indeed, technical skills development is a long-term threat to the health of every industry dependent on design, construction and maintenance capabilities. For aviation businesses – large and small – the development, production, operation and maintenance of the world’s safest transportation system depends on a skilled, dedicated and knowledgeable workforce that is personally invested for the long term.”
“Despite the growing passenger levels we have been experiencing in Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, many other small communities around the country have been less fortunate,” said Martin Lenss, Airport Director of Eastern Iowa Airport. “Between July 2013 and July 2018, 37 airports in the continental U.S. lost all commercial air service. In addition, 26 communities lost 75 percent of their air service. These, and numerous other data points, tell us we have a real and growing pilot supply issue that threatens to leave more communities with fewer commercial airline options. The most at-risk in facing this challenge are the regional airlines and the communities across the U.S. they serve.”
“There may never be a better time to become a commercial pilot and pursue a career in aviation,” said Sarah Oberman Bartush, CMO of Channel Islands Aviation, Inc. “The pilot shortage has only just begun, and it is already creating hardship on small businesses like mine. Something must be done to bring light to this situation and to encourage the airlines to work with both the charter operators and flight schools rather than just constantly swooping up their talent.”
“The aviation technician shortage could be just as disruptive as the pilot shortage for small business,” said Kenneth Witcher, Dean of the College of Aeronautics Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “Small repair shops, who need skilled labor, will find themselves unable to compete for the dwindling supply of experienced technicians due to increased wages offered by the larger Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) organizations. These smaller shops typically do not have the resources/capability to provide the on-the-job training necessary for workers just entering the industry. If these manufactures are unable to recruit a skilled workforce, it could have a ripple effect impacting the large aircraft manufacturing companies globally.”To read the full witness testimony click here and to watch the full hearing click here.