Helo Industry Would Suffer Under Proposed Legislation, Groups Say

By Staff Writer | September 16, 2015
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Five associations warned that legislation proposed to amend the Post-9/11 GI Bill "would have enormous detrimental impact on the aviation industry—and especially the helicopter sector," according to a joint statement submitted yesterday to the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. The Senate Committee is holding a hearing on the draft legislation today. The statement—jointly written by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Association of State Aviation Officials and National Business Aviation Association—urged that the Committee consider options other than capping VA flight-training benefits at roughly $80,000 per year, which is well under the estimated costs necessary to complete helicopter flight training at participating colleges. Such a measure, it argued, would reduce the pool of veterans entering the industry "in the midst of a worsening pilot shortage," and that in turn would eventually shrink the job pool for support workers such as maintenance technicians, dispatchers and business managers. Legislation had been proposed in response to a small number of helicopter flight schools charging extremely high training costs to the VA. "We do not dispute that there were some instances of the VA being charged far more than is necessary for some veterans' flight training," the statement read. But among other alternatives, the statement said the VA's current "85/15" rule, whereby 15 percent of all flight-degree students must be enrolled not under VA benefits, could keep training prices manageable if enforced uniformly.

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