Senator Reverend Warnock Introduces New Bill to Bolster Aviation Workforce Development As Part of Aviation-Focused Legislative Package

Today, Senator Reverend Warnock is announcing a legislative package to address his top aviation priorities, including reinvigorating the industry’s workforce

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

Last week, 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

This new legislative package is Senator Reverend Warnock’s latest effort to empower Georgia’s vibrant aviation economy 

Senator Reverend Warnock: “Aviation workers help keep our communities connected. Now is the time to act to revitalize the industry and support a modern and representative workforce”

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduced new legislation to address the nation’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 theAdvancing 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.

“America has a worker shortage problem, particularly in aviation. 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. That is why I am proud to introduce the AIRWAYS Act to help more schools train students from all zip codes to work in the aviation industry,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “I am also proud to have recently joined a bipartisan cohort of my colleagues working to strengthen investments that will develop the aviation industry’s workforce, and I am glad to see that bill included many of the provisions I championed in my AIRWAYS Act.Aviation workers, from pilots, to mechanics, technicians, and more help keep our communities connected, and 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.”

The robust package will also include legislation designed to increase the production of sustainable fuels and eliminate emissions, as well as a bipartisan bill to authorize additional flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). Additionally, the Senator’s new legislative package also includes a proposal to study opportunities to improve the timeliness, transparency, and performance accountability in the FAA’s certification and review processes—strengthening safety, improving the flying experience for consumers, and welcoming new entrants into the aviation economy.

As a member of the Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FAA, Senator Warnock serves a key role in shaping aviation policy for Georgia and the nation. And with more than 108,000 employees across 800 different aviation companies, including industry giants such as Delta, Gulfstream, and Lanzajet, and home to the world’s busiest airport, Georgia is one of this country’s most important aviation states. But there is a workforce shortage affecting our aviation industry: Overall, Reuters found that aerospace employment in the U.S. is 8.4 percent below pre-pandemic levels, a reality that threatens to add additional stress to a recovering industry. Underwriting the aviation workforce shortage is the persistent lack of diversity across the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), only a small percentage of the aviation workforce – a percentage disproportionate to the demographic breakdown of the entire American workforce – identify as women or racial/ethnic minorities.

Key highlights of Senator Reverend Warnock’s new aviation package:


  • This aviation workforce development bill establishes a grant program to support the education, recruitment, and workforce development of aircraft pilots as well as aviation maintenance and aviation manufacturing technical workers. The AIRWAYS Act includes specific direction that these grants be awarded primarily to public and non-profit educational institutions, or other entities that serve an educational purpose, and prioritizes grants that:
  • Encourage the participation of populations underrepresented in the aviation industry, including veterans, women, minorities, and individuals in economically disadvantaged geographic areas and rural communities.
  • Encourage participation of populations underrepresented in the industry to address the workforce needs of rural and regional airports.
  • Strengthen aviation programs at minority serving institutions, a public institution of higher education, or a public postsecondary vocational institution.

“Today’s path to becoming a pilot or aircraft maintenance technician is often not as supported or financially achievable as other careers–and so we commend Senator Warnock for introducing the AIRWAYS Act,” said Captain Patrick Burns, Vice President – Flight Operations & System Chief Pilot, Delta Air Lines.“At Delta Air Lines our workforce development pipelines, including our Propel Pilot Career Path Program have long been a part of our culture and story with the goal of developing and training the next generation of aviation professionals. Having a federal grant program for aspiring pilots and aviation professionals to access has never been more important as we work to build a diverse and inclusive aviation workforce of the future.”

“A major challenge facing the aviation industry is the shortage of qualified candidates for many career paths,” said Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport General Manager Balram “B” Bheodari. “This legislation will mitigate those challenges by providing educational resources for future aviation workers. Additionally, the AIRWAYS Actwill advance the legacy of Atlanta’s late Mayor Maynard H. Jackson Jr. by increasing opportunities in the industry for underrepresented communities.”   

“The Teamsters are proud to endorse the AIRWAYS Act. We have to increase job opportunities in aviation to more people, especially individuals underrepresented in the industry, including women and minorities,” General President Sean O’Brien, International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “We must always be fighting for good-paying, union-represented careers for as many Americans as possible. The Teamsters have been long-term supporters of the Aviation Workforce Development Grants and a grant recipient for our Aviation Basics program, and our union is committed to do everything possible to expand workers’ access to and diversity in the aviation field.”

The AIRWAYS Act is cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). The legislation is also supported by several organizations and entities including Middle Georgia State University, The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the Georgia Airports Association, Delta, Gulfstream, the Association of Flight Attendants, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the Air Line Pilots Association, and the GA/SC Airport Coalition. 

Advancing Aviation Emissions Reduction Opportunities (AAERO) Act

  • Today, aviation represents up to 12 percent of the nation’s transportation-related emissions and 2 percent of all global CO2emissions. Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) are jet-caliber biofuels that produce less than half the emissions of conventional jet fuel and are widely regarded as our best chance to rapidly and dramatically reduce aviation sector emissions. Senator Warnock’s AAERO Act proposes to ramp up production of SAF and other low emissions aviation technology with critical investments in new facilities and scalable technology in order to meet our national climate goals and eliminate aviation sector emissions by 2050. 

“Delta Air Lines applauds the leadership of Senator Warnock to grow the nascent market for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and looks forward to continued engagement on policies that will reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within the aviation sector,” said Pam Fletcher, Chief Sustainability Officer, Delta Air Lines.“At Delta we have committed to replacing 10 percent of our traditional fossil fuel with SAF by 2030, but in order to achieve this important goal we need sensible policies like the AAERO Actthat will help spur investment and deployment of lower carbon intensity fuels and technologies.” 

“As a sustainable aviation fuels company building a plant in rural Georgia, LanzaJet applauds this work. The aviation industry has the opportunity to decarbonize the entire sector, and the AAERO Actwould catalyze and de-risk the scale-up of a US sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) market,” said Jimmy Samartzis, CEO, LanzaJet. “The AAERO Actrepresents a bold commitment to decarbonize aviation and supports the Administration’s goal of three billion gallons of U.S. SAF production by 2030. This work not only supports important climate change efforts, it also enables energy security and builds economic development across rural America. We applaud Senator Warnock for his leadership in introducing the AAERO Act and supporting a future net zero aviation industry.” 

FAA Advancements Act

  • The FAA has led numerous rule-making committees to create or amend regulations to airworthiness standards, but there has been a lack of transparency and certainty in its certification and review processes. The bipartisan FAA Advancements Act takes steps to reestablish the FAA as a leader in aviation innovation and safety The bill directs a study designed to provide recommendations for updating aircraft certification to reflect the complex nature of modern aircrafts, as well as improve the timeliness, transparency, and performance accountability in the review processes.

The FAA Advancements Act is co-lead by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS).

The Senator’s legislative package also includes the Good Jobs for Airports Act, which the Senator co-sponsored in March, to ensure airport service workers earn living wages and benefits; the State and Local General Sales Tax Protection Act, which would bolster local tax revenues on aviation fuel to help fund local schools and infrastructure projects, as well as bipartisan legislation aimed at helping airports fund the replacement of firefighting foam containing toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances that can cause adverse health effects.

A longtime champion for Georgia’s aviation priorities, Senator Warnock is working to include these legislative proposals in this year’s FAA reauthorization. In April, Senator Warnock met with local aviation workers and leaders at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Chamblee, Georgia to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing folks on the frontlines of the aviation industry. This year, Senator Warnock has announced a series of federal investments in Georgia’s airports and aviation economy, including April’s announcement of $3.4 million for Georgia’s small, rural, and regional aviation infrastructure. In March, the Senator announced a similar investment of $1.5 million from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) to be administered by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). Last year, Senator Warnock secured $13.5 million to update nine airports across Georgia, including Augusta Regional Airport and Columbus Airport. The Senator also previously announced $6 million in grants from the Department of Transportation to improve the travel experience at the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included roughly $619 million for Georgia’s airports to improve efficiency, upgrade terminals, and more.