ICYMI: Senator Reverend Warnock’s Aviation-Focused Legislative Package Takes Flight, Aims to Bring Georgia’s Aviation Economy to New Heights

Last week, Senator Reverend Warnock announced a legislative package to address his top aviation priorities, including reinvigorating the industry’s workforce

The Senator recently visited DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Chamblee to hear from aviation workers on the need for greater federal investment for workforce training, recruitment 

Senator Reverend Warnock joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in introducing aviation workforce development legislation, including provisions of his AIRWAYS Act, aimed at helping recruit and train pilots, aviation manufacturing workers, and mechanics

Senator Warnock to Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Georgia is a top aviation state in our country”

Washington, D.C. — Last week, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee which is responsible for overseeing the nation’s transportation policy, introduced new legislation to address America’s workforce shortage, starting with a widely understaffed aviation industry, and to strengthen the aviation sector as Congress plans to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Senator’s new package of proposals is headlined by the Advancing Inclusion and Representation in the Workforce of Aviation and Transportation Systems (AIRWAYS) Act, legislation designed to help grow and strengthen the aviation workforce by expanding opportunities for educational institutions and their partners to help establish a resilient and representative aviation workforce pipeline. The Senator’s AIRWAYS Act was drafted in response to a widespread and multifaceted aviation workforce shortage, and the continued lack of diversity throughout the aviation industry. The bill aims to reduce the costs and barriers to training and education, improve career and training access, and support equity and inclusion in the training pipeline for the entire industry, including for pilots, aviation maintenance, and aviation manufacturing.

See more coverage of Senator Reverend Warnock’s aviation-focused legislative package below:

Atlanta Business Chronicle: Warnock: Diversifying aviation workforce is key to safety

June 15, 2023 

  • Sen. Raphael Warnock has high aims for his home state’s aviation sector. This week he introduced a package of bills to improve the diversity and environmental profile of the industry. Improving the airline industry will not just benefit Georgia economically, Warnock told Atlanta Business Chronicle. It’s the right thing to do for ethical, safety and environmental reasons. “We need the aviation sector to look like America,” Warnock said.
  • One part of Warnock’s legislative package — the AIRWAYS Act — aims to recruit and train a diverse aviation workforce. It would provide grants up to $1 million for aviation workforce recruitment projects, including outreach to elementary school students as well as post-secondary scholarships and apprenticeships. The bill would prioritize grants to increase the number of minority, female, and veteran aviation workers.

  • “That’s not just a justice issue, although it is — it’s also a safety issue,” Warnock said. “How we get the best and the brightest talent is to make sure that there’s a path for kids regardless of their neighborhood or their ZIP code.”
  • “We don’t have enough pilots and mechanical engineers and mechanics. That has clearly has safety implications,” Warnock said, noting many pilots and other aviation workers are nearing retirement age.

  • The U.S. senator also wants to see the aviation sector reach net zero emissions and thinks alternative fuels are key to that goal. That drove his new AAERO (Advancing Aviation Emissions Reduction Opportunities) Act, which would increase grant funding for SAFs, or sustainable aviation fuels. These biofuels produce less than half the emissions of conventional jet fuels.
  • “We cannot have a serious conversation about getting to net zero with carbon if we don’t address the aviation sector,” Warnock said. “I want to see us get more aggressive on that front.”
  • Warnock is optimistic about his bills’ chances of passing. The workforce bill has the support of Delta as well as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a drivers’ union that includes UPS workers, and other trade associations. The AAERO bill encouraging SAFs has support from both Delta and LanzaJet.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Warnock backs bills to boost aviation workforce, sustainable jet fuels

June 15, 2023 

  • Ezekiel Andrews has spent more than a decade pursuing his dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot, but he hasn’t given up. It can cost $100,000 or more to become an airline pilot. “Unless you really come from a wealthy background, it’s almost an impossible endeavor,” Andrews said.

  • U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock mentioned Andrews, who he met during a visit to PDK Airport, as the type of person that inspired him to introduce legislation in Congress for federal grant funding to support aviation programs in colleges, vocational schools and high schools — including for scholarships or apprenticeships for future pilots, aircraft mechanics and aviation manufacturing professionals.

  • Andrews “had that light in his eyes that I see in young people when they’ve found something that they want to do, that they’re passionate about. For him, that’s flying,” Warnock said. “It shouldn’t be that difficult… What I’m trying to do is increase the pipeline, and for young people who want to enter into this space, there are just limited pathways.”

  • “Georgia is a top aviation state in our country,” Warnock said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I consider it a top priority of mine to strengthen Georgia’s position.”
  • The Georgia senator is also backing legislation for a study seeking recommendations to update the aircraft certification process to make it more timely and transparent. He said that could help companies like Savannah-based Gulfstream Aerospace.
  • Warnock wants to get his legislative proposals included in the FAA reauthorization bill, which must be passed every five years and thus becomes a vehicle for a variety of aviation legislation.

Georgia Public Broadcasting: Taxpayer dollars at work: What your U.S. senators from Georgia are doing for the week ending June 16
June 16, 2023

  • Warnock introduced a new bill, the AIRWAYS Act, to improve aviation workforce development. According to a June 13 press release, this bill is “aimed at helping recruit and train pilots, aviation manufacturing workers, and mechanics.”
  • The AIRWAYS Act is a part of Warnock’s “aviation-focused” legislative package said to be his “last effort to empower Georgia’s vibrant aviation economy.”
  • Warnock, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee overseeing transportation, announced on Thursday that the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program would give $17 million in federal grants to smaller airports in Georgia. 

41 NBC (WMGT-Macon): Sen. Warnock introduces plan to address aviation job creation
June 23, 2023 

  • U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock wants to address the nation’s aviation workforce shortage, and he says it starts with Georgia.

  • The Georgia Democrat is introducing a legislative package to address the aviation industry’s workforce shortage and the need for more training and recruitment. The legislation is aimed at helping recruit and train pilots, aviation manufacturing workers, and mechanics.
  • “America has a worker shortage problem, particularly in aviation,” said Senator Warnock. “The current aviation workforce shortage is not only a challenge to confront, but an opportunity to seize by investing in the next generation of aviation workers—and I believe the entire education system has an important role to play in getting it done.”
  • In an interview with 41NBC, Warnock says development starts with getting more people access to training and educational programs like the one at Middle Georgia State University’s School of Aviation in Eastman.

  • In February 2023, MGA’s Eastman campus received two million dollars in congressional funds to expand its aviation program. Improvements include modernizing the school’s flight simulators and providing students with better training technology.
  • “Now is the time to act to revitalize the industry and support a modern and representative workforce, and to showcase to young Georgians the career options available for good-paying jobs in a critical sector of our economy,” said Senator Warnock.